Avoiding the Comparison Trap

Avoiding the Comparison Trap

- in Parenting

One day I was sitting on an airplane, and I had a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. We got into a conversation about personal finances and how comparison can drive people into life and financial ruin. She told me that she lives in an exclusive neighborhood that got caught up with keeping up with one particular family.  This family had the largest mansion in the subdivision.  Therefore, everyone in the community tore down their mansions and rebuilt bigger mansions.  The family who everyone compared themselves to, bought a yacht. Therefore, every other family purchased a yacht too. Then when the first family upgraded their yacht then every other family upgraded their yacht as well.

However, everything wasn’t what it seemed. Little did they know, the household everyone compared themselves to didn’t have the money they appeared to have. When the couple got divorced, it turns out, they weren’t dividing assets. Instead, they were dividing debt. Everyone in the neighborhood went deep into debt trying to outshine each other and keep up with a family that couldn’t afford the lifestyle they appeared to have. 

I know a similar story of a woman who was an Instagram influencer. She incurred $10,000 of debt buying expensive clothes, bags, vacations, and jewelry just to show off pictures on Instagram. She was always traveling across the globe promoting a life that most people would desire. However, the truth is that she couldn’t afford it all. It wasn’t real. 

These may sound like extreme examples, but I share these with you to help you to understand the dangers of comparing yourself and your journey to someone else’s.

What lessons can we learn from these stories? In this post, I’m going to explore two big lessons I learned.

Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s movie trailer 

Looking at someone else’s life only shows us the movie trailer. For example, have you ever seen a movie trailer that looked amazing, but when you saw the movie it was terrible and was nothing like the trailer? 

That’s because the trailer is designed to get you excited about the movie by showing you the best parts. Conversely, just because the trailer is good, it doesn’t mean the movie is good. Even if the movie is good, the outtakes, mistakes, and parts that don’t work well are left on the cutting room floor. It’s the same on social media and in life. Most people only show you the movie trailer of their lives – the highlights. They usually don’t show the things in their lives that aren’t going well. Therefore, we end up comparing our entire movie to their movie trailer.  

These days, we can get swallowed up by the trailers of other people’s lives on social media. We become so fixated on them that we forget the race we were called to run—our own lives. We end up seeing what other people are doing in their business or on their Facebook and Instagram profiles, and then we think to ourselves, maybe we need to do something different? 

The saddest part about this is that we lose our ability to be genuinely happy for other people because every time we see them achieve or celebrate something, we compare it to what we have. 

I went through the same thing and I found myself resentful for other people’s wins and I began to appreciate my wins and the things I had.  However, I realized I wanted to be someone who could be happy for someone else and someone who was secure in the path that God called me to be on. 

Decide what is important to you financially 

If you see someone on social media—or it might even be in real life—if they have something, evaluate your emotions.  Does seeing what that person has trigger feelings of envy, insecurity, or competition?  Do you immediately want to go out and buy something of your own to feel better or one-up the other person?

For example, maybe you see a mom on Instagram taking her child to Disney and then you think, “You know what, maybe I need to take my kid to Disney too—because she’s doing it.” You might see another kid wearing name brand clothes and think, “Oh, you know what, my kid also needs to wear name brand clothes, and maybe not even just any name brand clothes, but a better name brand than that kid.”

When those types of feelings come up, you have to recognize them, stop them in their tracks, and do something differently. If you don’t they can end up destroying your finances, relationships, and peace of mind.

I used to think as a kid, “Man, It isn’t fair that I don’t wear name brand clothes. I’m never going to do that to my kids. I’m going to make sure they wear name brand clothes, they’re going to stand out in their name-brand clothes.” As I got older, I realized my parents valued education. They loved making sure my sisters and I were enrolled in enrichment programs that allowed us to advance our education. They focused on things they believed would help us grow and achieve later on in life.

Therefore, decide what is important for your family, your finances, and you.  Then, become confident in the decisions you make as a mom, be satisfied in how you choose to spend your money, in ways that will enhance your children’s education, enhance their experiences, and feel surrounded by love. Once you make that decision, put on your blinders and don’t worry about what other moms are doing.  Rest knowing that you are making the best decision for your family.

Please leave a comment to let me know how this helps you.

About the author

Aisha Taylor is a single mother of twins who helps corporate moms create the financial foundations to support turning their idea to income so they can exit their full-time job, walk in purpose, and spend more time with their children. Aisha has been featured in Black Enterprise, Jet Magazine, ESSENCE, Go Banking Rates, and The Detroit Free Press. To connect with Aisha, visit www.myideatoincome.com or email [email protected]

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