“Compare and despair” goes the well-known aphorism, neatly capturing in three words the torrent of anguish we experience when our sense of self comes from making comparisons to those around us or those we read about in magazines. Whether we’re on the Tube, walking down a busy street, waiting at a GP’s surgery or lying on the therapy table enjoying gay massage, there’s a danger we could start comparing. Someone might be younger, prettier, richer, happier (or happier looking at any rate), brighter or cleverer than we are. And so it begins. We compare ourselves unfavourably to our fellow men and women and as a consequence we suffer. It’s galling, and it can have devastating effects. It changes how we feel about everything from our families to our pet projects. We might procrastinate dreadfully, self-sabotage, and become bitter.
It’s tempting to think that if we compare ourselves the other way (ie favourably), then we’ll get the opposite result. If we look around us and decide that we’re better, more attractive and more intelligent than others, then won’t we feel great? No. It doesn’t work like that. We might, at best, get a quick fix, a surge of self-satisfaction that leaves us purring for a few minutes. But it’s a case of live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword. If we rely on favourable comparison in order to feel good about ourselves, we will inevitably see-saw from favourable comparison to unfavourable comparison. It is simply not possible to confine our comparisons to the former (unless we’re sociopathic). At some point, sooner rather than later, we will switch from favourable to unfavourable comparison. We will feel horribly unstable. It’s vital that we find a way to have a stable sense of self that comes from within.
It’s important to remember that when we ‘compare and despair’, we may be working on false assumptions. Joe Bloggs over there looks happier than us. But we can’t know that for certain. We’re making assumptions because he’s smiling and looking pleased. It’s superficial and it’s what’s known as ‘comparing our insides with someone else’s outsides’. It’s an innately flawed way of assessing our surroundings. That person who looks so carefree and happy may just be putting on a good show. It’s entirely within the realms of possibility that he or she may be dealing with private anguish, private insecurity, private fear.
Instead of fuelling your insecurity through comparing, it’s time instead to focus on yourself. You have talents and you have worth. As you give up the ‘comparing’ bug, you’ll notice that your capacity to feel happy for others increases. You won’t feel threatened by someone else’s success. Giving up comparing means you also give up making favourable comparisons. Favourable and unfavourable judgements are two sides of the same coin, and you can’t have one without the other. Both of them have to go. Of course, we can’t exercise complete control over the snap judgements or first impressions that go through our minds. But we can step back from them instead of buying into them. Get yourself ready for giving up this way of thinking by booking a relaxing treat like gay massage London and then you’ll be good and ready for this new way of life.