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Scientists may argue whether negative thinking causes or only contributes to depression and anxiety, but no one suggests chronic negative thinking is beneficial.
One type of negative thinking is comparison. Comparing the self to others is immensely mood deflating for negative thinkers since they always come out the loser.
To help our self eliminate this comparative habit of thought we can remember the saying, “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” It is never wise to compare the way we feel to the way others look.
When we feel anxious, panicky, hopeless, or worthless, and compare our self to people who appear to be doing well or have their act together, we naturally come up short. We conclude we are defective, weak, or a loser. The ironic thing is, if we are good at hiding our own inner turmoil, other people may think we are doing well—and feel worse by comparison.
It is human nature to make comparisons. Children and adolescents naturally compare how they feel to the way others look, and this can become a thought habit carried into adulthood. Unfortunately, it is not a helpful habit. We will either think of our self as worse than someone else, or as better, and neither is good.
As we mature, most of us learn that all human beings have problems and difficult emotions that must be held in as we go about our daily business. It seems that knowing this would free us from comparing how we feel with how others appear. Yet, we can still feel short-changed or as though something is wrong with us when our eyes believe others are doing better than we are.
“Comparison is the death of joy,” wrote an astute observer of the glories and foibles of humanity, Mark Twain.
If we are experiencing anxiety or depression joy may seem an unreachable goal presently. However, we can bring joy closer by letting go of habits known to dampen it, such as comparing our insides to other’s outsides. At least we will not be contributing to our distress by believing something the eyes are not designed to see.
Photo credit: TheBusyBrain
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