What’s a “comparative thinking thought shift”… besides a mouthful?
I’m glad you asked!
Comparative thinking thought shifts revolve around comparative thinking. And as the name suggests, comparative thinking is when we use comparison to analyze and understand. It’s something that we’ve been doing the majority of our lives. And it’s become so inherent, we most likely don’t even realize we’re doing it. More about comparative thinking here.
While comparative thinking is beneficial in a lot of areas, it can be negatively impactful in others. And when it’s negatively impactful, it packs a big punch! We are better able to achieve our goals and emotional well-being when we recognize unhealthy thoughts and we shift them (this is where the “thought shift” of “comparative thinking thought shift” comes in).
Below are 3 thoughts that are created with comparative thinking as well as three counter thoughts to help you shift unproductive or negative comparative thoughts.
Comparative Thinking Thought Shift 1
“They have everything going for them, I wish I had their life?”
“I’m glad they have a good thing going, what can I do to make my situation better?” or “I’m glad they have a good thing going, in my life, I’m grateful for…”
Sometimes we see someone on social media or someone in our social group who seems to have it all. Because we are so used to comparative thinking we likely start comparing ourselves to that person. This can be negatively impactful because we may then start to believe that our life sucks compared to theirs. Which can lead to us forgetting all about them and end up just thinking that our life sucks.
Of course other’s are going to have different things than you. You have different things that others too. You want something they have and they want something you have. It’s how it works. I mean, Kylie Jenner the billionaire (who seems to have it all) mentioned that she wishes she had more privacy—I certainty would NOT want her life.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. Also, focus on what you can do to make your situation better. And always, always, always(!) remember: things typically look better from the outside looking in.
Comparative Thinking Thought Shift 2
“Someone would love what I have. So I can’t be sad and I need to be happy”
“I am having these feelings for a reason and I need to explore them.”
We’ve been encouraged since childhood to compare our situations with others. Remember those starving children in Africa? The ones we were told about as we force down food even if we were full a.k.a. ignored our body’s intuition. This kind of encouragement is negatively impactful and can lead to us invalidating our feelings. It can also bring about feelings of shame for being who we are, or have us feeling stuck. Not to mention this it’s reliant on negative, external validation (trust me here, it’s no bueno).
Forced positivity is the fucking worst. It’s so negatively impactful I wish that there was an automatic mute button that would auto activate anytime anyone would start to spout it. Just because someone else may like what you have does not mean you need to disregard your feelings. Our feelings tell us things. And if you are feeling strongly about something it’s an opportunity to explore those feelings and why you are feeling them. It’s an opportunity to get unstuck.
Feelings are NOT meant for you to ignore and stuff down because a fictitious person somewhere may like what you have. I mean, they could also hate it, then what?
Comparative Thinking Thought Shift 3
“Nothing will ever be as good as…”
“I appreciate the past and I will continue to make great memories.
Things typically seem a lot better when we look back. We tend to focus on the positive things we’re going to miss instead of the negative things we are better off living without. So someone’s annoying ass attitude, inability to communicate and loud chewing may go to the foreground while their cute giggle or laugh may cling to the forefront.
After something ends: a job or a relationship, or even a certain period in our lives, it may be very tempting to compare. And it can have us feeling bummed out if we start to feel like things will never be good again. However, things will be good again… If we let them. If we are focused on the past, and focused on how things will likely not be good again, then, well, they likely won’t be good again. Remember, your thoughts become things.
So when you meet someone new, or start a new job, or if something ends, while it’s tempting to compare to previous experiences, try to keep an open mind.