“The key to success is comparing yourself to everyone, everyday. Then let that anxiety and fear propel you to work harder, faster, and with more motivation.” ~ Guy Who Had a Nervous Breakdown at 27
Obsessive Comparision Disorder, the new OCD, is a phrase I coined way back in 2012 here on All Groan Up and then wrote about it in my book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties.
I’d argue that Obsessive Comparison Disorder is the smallpox of our generation. 9 out of 10 doctors agree obsessive comparison disorder is the leading cause of devouring a whole box of Thin Mints while watching reality TV.
So what exactly is Obsessive Comparison Disorder, what are the side effects, and more importantly, is there a cure?
Obsessive Comparison Disorder
Obsessive Comparison Disorder is a phrase I’ve coined to describe our compulsion to constantly compare ourselves with others, producing unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us to depression, consumption, anxiety, and all-around joyous discontent.
Like having to run outside to light up a cigarette, our addiction to comparing is uncontrollable and killing us.
We used to have to wait until our ten-year reunion to look each other up and down to see how much worse or better off we were than they. But now with the beautiful invention of Facebook we have the opportunity to compare ourselves to everyone. Every. Single. Day. What a blessing.
The Side Effects of Obsessive Comparison Disorder
Obsessive Comparison Disorder is the leading cause to buying things we shouldn’t.
Obsessive Comparison Disorder makes us look through every picture of friend’s “My Life is Awesome” Facebook album, depressed because our life looks nothing like “it’s supposed to“.
Obsessive Comparison Disorder devours with Bubonic-Plagueness creativity, energy, and peace — three vital characteristics you are going to need to live your life well.
Comparison makes us obsessed with trying to ghostwrite other people’s stories instead of writing our own.
3 Ways to Cure Obsessive Comparison Disorder
1. Put on Blinders
If you look at a horse that’s carrying a carriage out in public, the horse will usually have blinders on. Blinders keep them from being distracted or freaked out by the noise of the peripheral. Blinders force them to focus on what’s exactly in front of them, and nothing else.
We all need a set of blinders. We need to be forward-focused. What set of blinders can you put on that will help you look straight ahead?
What if we took all the energy we waste comparing ourselves with those next to us, and just ran?
2. Cut back on Facebook and TV
Want to know a sure-fire way to cut your Obsessive Comparison Disorder in half?
Cut your Facebook and TV time in half. This is the best set of blinders money can’t buy.
Facebook and TV take your Honda-Sized comparison problem and turn it into a Hummer — guzzling energy for no good reason other than to try and look cool.
3. Celebrate What You Do
Celebrate what you do. Don’t obsess about everything you don’t.
Someone’s always going to have bigger boobs, bonuses, and boats.
We need to celebrate on the ship we’re sailing, instead of drowning as we attempt to swim to someone else’s.
What’s something you recommend for curing Obsessive Comparison Disorder?
Fantastic article and so needed in this age of Facebook where you can Internet stalk each and every friend or enemy, undetected. Great tips too. It takes an inner strength and desire to change, to put on the blinders and focus on our own lives, but so incredibly worth it once we can take that first step forward! Thank you for amazing material to read each and every week.
Thanks Sara! Appreciate the kind words
Very enlightening article. It got me thinking about the other psychological affects Facebook has able to impact on our society through its many features. Eg bullying thru comments and ability to make pages, discriminate because of how you look or spend your time off. But it has also allowed us to connect with the primary school best friend. I’ve downloaded your ebook and can’t wait to read the published version.
Really liked this article. With 10 sisters in law, all around the same age, comparison seems to come with the territory. Who’s the skinniest, prettiest, best baker, most organized, who’s kids are dressed the best, behaving the best, and it gets even worse when there’s a few pregnant at the same time (who’s gain what???). This made me think about my own life, and now I’m determine to focus on just that!
Awesome Kimberly. Thank you! 10 sisters in law. I can only image the crazy comparison going on
I’m nearly 60 years old and was emailed a link to this article by my 26 year old daughter. It reminded me of when I was in junior high gym class. We were all supposed to close our eyes and stand on one foot for as long as we could to test our balance and coordination. So we all started out. I have no idea right now how long I actually stood on one foot with my eyes closed, but I remember that it was incredibly easy. I felt like I could do it all day.
I could hear my classmates dropping and thudding on the gym floor one by one as I effortlessly continued standing on one foot. Finally I heard no more thudding and all was silence. After a short length of time, I began to hear snickers and giggles and outright guffaws. What was going on? Why were they laughing? Did I look stupid? Were my gym shorts ripped? In the span of just a couple minutes a huge array of mortifying possibilities flew through my mind. Finally, tormented beyond endurance, I pretended to lose my balance and flopped onto the floor. When I opened my eyes, I discovered that only I and a male classmate had been left standing. I had been so worried about looking stupid, that I had purposely allowed myself to be pressured into coming in second.
Thanks Katrinka for sharing this story. What a great metaphor for the way we sabotage ourselves to appeal to what we perceive others want/look like/care about. Thanks again. Glad your daughter sent you towards All Groan Up. Thank her for me.
Thank you so much for this article!! I really needed to hear it. And thank you so much for the phrase “What if we took all the energy we waste comparing ourselves with those next to us, and just ran?” I am wanting to get into running and this gives me a new perspective on it, one that I like a lot and one that I think will help me. Comparing myself to others is one of my biggest vices, if not THE biggest, and when you sit down and think about it, it really does take up a LOT of energy. It takes what could be positive energy which you could take to improve yourself and your life, and turns it into something extremely negative and heavy. Probably why I feel tired all the time 🙂 Again, thank you so much for this article. It has inspired me 🙂 This was the first article of yours that I have read, and I look forward to reading more!
I love this website, it’s a Godsend… but I can’t help but laugh when this article encourages us to “Spend less time on Facebook”, and then encourages you to share it on Facebook with the Like button at the bottom. XD
Ha. Yep, the irony and paradox of living in such a social media, connected world, while yet desiring to remain sane and healthy, always is pulling on me.
This is exactly why I deleted my Facebook account, so thank you for reinforcing it for me. It’s been a few months now and I still think about it sometimes, like I’m missing out on things or worrying that I lost contact with a lot of people on there. But I figure, the people who should be in my life are already the ones that I keep contact with, and all those other FB “acquaintances” have no real place in my life.
I highly suggest getting rid of Facebook or at least stop checking/updating it 50 times a day, I’m sure you won’t regret it. There’s no good reason to know every little thing about everyone’s lives! The world never used to work like that 🙂
“There’s no good reason to know every little thing about everyone’s lives!”
Well said Michelle. My wife deleted her Facebook account a year ago and hasn’t looked back.
I also realized recently that the key to evacuate my hyper obsessive comparison disorder is to find things that I really really love to do, to a degree that I could be ok with just being suck at them and still enjoy doing them. Then I can be really free from comparing myself to others, because the joy lies in doing those things instead of achieving some sort of end results.
Great wisdom Tian. Well said
Okay, I wasn’t going to leave a comment because I never do on any sites, but I have to here. I have been drowning in this, all of this you’re writing about. I just read a whole bunch of articles on this site and by the end, crying happy, relieved tears. THANK GOD I’m not a basket case. Why am I only finding this reinforcement and reassurance now?? How are you not everywhere, everyone knowing about this? I found this by accident. And the relief I feel in just a half hour of reading is astounding. All I wanted to hear. You’ve said all I have needed desperately to hear. xxx
Wow! Thank you Sarah! So glad you stumbled onto All Groan Up and found it encouraging. That’s awesome. Make sure to join the community and snag the free 21 Secrets for your 20s ebook as well: http://allgroanup.us7.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=a82e3f8b2415ccc804a2f28bf&id=456be045d3
I think the thing that helped me the most with my Obsessive Comparison Disorder was reading Mark Driscoll’s “Who Do You Think You Are” People may have mixed views on him, but this book is all about reorienting your identity to be centered around Christ. I ended up realizing and tackling more of my personal identity issues than I knew I had, including comparing myself to others all the time.
I usually try to find one thing about me that is ‘better’ than someone when I compare myself to them. This book helped me come to a point where I now see on an eternal scale, which levels the playing field for all of us sinful human beings.
This just summed up my life right now. Social media and I have a super disfunctuonal love/hate relationship lol
Basically summed my life up in a couple lines -_-
Will definitely be cutting back. Will be difficult as I use social media to expose my online business. How can I edit my feeds so they don’t distract me tho? The wedding posts are killing me and my relationship.
Hi, Kitty. You might have figured this out, but it’s as simple as unfollowing people. Go to your friends’ pages. Click on “Friends” to see a list of options. Click unfollow. Done! Now you can choose whether you want to know the details of someone’s life.
Hi, Paul. I love your book 101 Secrets for Your Twenties and your emails! They are full of humor and wisdom. Obsessive Comparison Disorder may be the plague of our generation (and Facebook does NOT help), but I believe it is also a teenager and a 30+ adult problem. We humans have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. I think that’s why the Bible says it’s not wise for us to compare ourselves to others. I struggled with it in high school. It tanked my self-esteem. I thought I would be less insecure as an adult, but I still put others on a pedestal while putting myself down. This article has made me realize I’m not the only one struggling. Thank you for writing on topics that speak to my issues.
Hello My name I s Stephen. This is a real eye opener for me. I always wondered what it was that was making me feel depressed and anxious about life instead of celebrating the life I’ve been given. Been worried most of it. I know now that when I compare my self and realize I’m not measuring up I say I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you and thank you. I put this out here in the hopes it will heal me some how in some way. Thank you for this understanding what now I know what I would like to be heald of for ever and never to return again. Amen! Cast your care on him for he cares for you and the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep our hearts and minds through Christ that strengtheners us.
Thanks for sharing Stephen and I’m honored this article helped!
Wow I can see myself in quite a few of the people whom have shared their stories in the comments. My brother and sister n law have pointed it out to me quite a few times whenever I am doing it….I didn’t even realize I was doing it and how often I was comparing myself to others. For me I think it stemmed from being an identical twin. Most of my life I was referred to as the twin(s) instead of by my name, or are you the good or bad twin? We had same PE classes for a few years and they would always pair us together, really hated that! Ex: girls wrestling we always tied. They had the class do a headstand contest and out about 30 kids we were the only ones still on our heads and then it became a competitive contest between US and we could stand there on our heads till class was over cause neither one of us were going down. Little did our teacher or fellow classmates know that we had these contests at home on a regular basis!
We would compare boobs and oh my goodness we were pregnant at the same time, so we compared everything from boobs to stomachs and hips! To make matters worse we ended up buying the same car without even consulting with the other and decided to race each other from Washington to Idaho; I get pulled over and she got flagged over (I was winning ; ) the officer ask for my license & registration told me to hold on and walks to my sisters car to ask the same and I tell you he was just like in disbelief he had us get out of our cars and stand next to each other. His first question was did we plan this? (as he is looking at us and our 6/7 month pregnant bellies) Checking out our cars ( matching 76’ Datsun B-210s) And I swear none of this was planned but my car would’ve beat hers even if we wouldn’t have been pulled over. Good new is we didn’t get hurt or a ticket and the officer I’m sure had a great story to bring back to the station!!! Keep in mind that this incedent was over 30 years ago insurance was not mandatory, we didn’t have the luxury of cell phones or computers only business people had those. So as I ponder in my mind, my OCD I am chuckling at the conversation I had with my sister on the phone today of comparing our teeth and which side they were missing from “left or right” “top or bottom “ how often we are having hot flashes. Twins have the same DNA so could this disorder be genetic? I think the biggest side effects are 1) What if’s 2) second guessing yourself all the time 3)Worry prone & depression (I group these two the same as they seem to hit me at the same time)
*** Most importance is to just love yourself (there was a point in my life I didn’t know how)
I realize this is an old article, however it’s a fantastic discussion on many other levels I hadn’t thought about. Thank you for posting
well ok this article was good but its still not helping me a lot , you see i am so much obssesed with comparision with rich kids that even when i hear the word rich i start comparing , and it has now started to give me inferiority complex , whole day i compare and feel inferior about myself , i used to have friends but since corona my college also went online and it made me sit in a room where i started to compare more and more and now my life and my mind is so miserable i fear doing anything because the time i start to learn or travel or meet or do anything i start comparing and once i start comparing there is no end to it , though i have taken some steps i have already deleted all my social media but i think my mind has beccome so miserable it still keeps comparing if anyone is reading this comment and if you have any idea how to solve it please do let me know , this problem is killing me from inside i have become suicidal because of this disorder
Hello i must commend you because you are very strong even if you don’t believe it yes you are…you are still very much alive and there can be changes it all starts with gratitude when the episode begins just start appreciating what is going on well in your life as small as your nose that you can freely breath with, we spend so much time looking at other peoples life forgetting we are doing well in our own way. Trust me the grass is not only greener on the other side but it has thorns underneath it. Be grateful be contented With the help of God you will come out if it. Love yourself, trust yourself and appreciate yourself you only got you.