We live in a society that is nested within a hierarchical structure that rank orders individuals based off of a myriad of arbitrary and non-arbitrary measures of value. In other words, society ranks the individual’s value based on their job, financial status, social caste, relationship status, fame, and power; regardless of whether this is fair or not, it is the reality of the human experience. This is important to understand as a precursor to the discussion of avoiding comparisons to other people because this knowledge shows that playing the comparison game isn’t just an unwise idea to avoid, but that our proclivity to engage in this categorizing is actually reinforced by society. To take it even further, evolutionary biologists and evolutionary psychologists believe that the serotonin system actually developed as a way to better adapt to these hierarchies; in other words, the ability to rank order objects and even people is built right into our biology. With all this being said, we can begin to understand why avoiding comparisons is such a difficult task!
Throughout life we are often told by people wiser than us, “don’t compare yourself to other people, just do the best that you can do!” While this makes perfect sense, applying it and putting it into action is an entirely different story. Because human beings have a need to sense where they are in the world, not physically, but in terms of their value, we necessarily look to our neighbor as a point of reference. We think, “well, my car is definitely nicer than John’s, but it’s nowhere near as cool as Suzy’s!” In this simple example, we can see how we rank order ourselves in comparison to others on a daily basis. If we pay close attention, we might be shocked at the frequency at which we engage in this kind of self-classification. This, however, is a recipe for disaster. There is one approach and one approach only that is sufficient in providing an accurate reading of our own value and progress in society; we must only compare ourselves today to that of who we were yesterday. If we can learn to adopt this perspective, we will find ourselves less anxious, stressed, and depressed because we won’t be setting unrealistic expectations, but instead, the expectations will be dependent on what we did or didn’t do and not someone else.
Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474