The Hidden Price You Pay When You Compare Yourself to Others

The Hidden Price You Pay When You Compare Yourself to Others

It’s not just an old saying—comparison really is the thief of joy.

We’ve all been there. Scrolling through social media, we see a friend posting pics of their picture-perfect vacation or announcing their new relationship, new baby, new house, or new promotion. In those moments, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing our own lives to theirs. But this seemingly harmless habit can have a surprisingly negative impact on our well-being.

The Downside of the Upward Gaze

Evidence suggests that comparing ourselves to others actually stunts our ability to achieve what we desire, rather than speed it up. So why is it so easy to fall prey to the habit? And what are the potential effects? Let’s discuss.

Comparison: A Perfectly Natural (Yet Dangerous) Pitfall 

First, and thankfully, science says that you’re not weird for making those unhelpful comparisons. Social Comparison Theory, a concept developed by psychologist Leon Festinger, suggests that we naturally assess our own standing by comparing ourselves to others. It’s kind of how we survive. While this can sometimes be motivating and even necessary, indulging too much in comparison often leads to negative feelings, doing more harm than good. 

The problem comes when we compare our weaknesses to others’ strengths. We see someone’s perfectly curated social media or hear about their seemingly effortless achievements and feel inadequate. This can chip away at our self-esteem, leading to an ever-present sense of dissatisfaction.

Anxiety and Depression

Comparison can be a decisive trigger for mental health issues. When we compare ourselves to others, it leaves us vulnerable to getting caught in a loop of self-criticism and negative thoughts. These ruminations amplify anxiety and can even contribute to depression. Constant pressure to measure up to others creates a toxic cycle of negativity. 

Interestingly, the evidence that comparison is taking a toll on you mentally shows up almost immediately in your body. For example, scrolling while in bed might seem like a relaxing wind-down activity, but are you really relaxed? Next time you catch yourself in a social media–fueled comparison spiral, make a quick scan of your body. Are your shoulders raised? Is your jaw a little bit clenched? Is your breathing shallow? These are all evidence that your mind is not at ease and is sending signals to your body that you are not safe. 

Diminished Self-Worth

Constantly comparing yourself every time you scroll is like withdrawing money from your checking account—your self-worth checking account. There’s only so much money in there, and every time you think, “Wow, our vacation looks pretty dumb compared to theirs,” you withdraw some currency from that account. 

So often we see the best versions of other people’s lives, while neglecting the struggles and challenges they might face behind the scenes. This distorted perception can make our own achievements feel insignificant, leading to a sense of diminished self-worth.  

Strained Relationships

One of the worst parts of the comparison trap is how it affects our relationships. Comparing turns other people into competition. The constant pressure to keep up with the Joneses, fueled by upward comparisons, can breed jealousy and resentment. This mentality creates an unhealthy sense of competition, making it difficult to celebrate the successes of friends, family, and colleagues— damaging relationships and making it harder to find genuine joy in others’ accomplishments.  

The worst part is, at the end of the day, our relationships are what sustain us and beautify our lives. In our pursuit to either match or discredit the accomplishments of those close to us, we chip away at those relationships. And when we lose the stuff, and the fancy vacations are just memories, we are left empty because we’ve neglected to connect meaningfully and vulnerably with others—something the comparison game cannot allow. 

It’s Great to Be You—Embracing Your Own Journey

While comparing ourselves to others may seem like an ingrained habit, there are ways to break free and cultivate a sense of inner peace. Here are some tips to help you find harmony within:

  1. Focus on your journey, not the destination. Set personal goals and celebrate your progress, big or small. Each step you take toward your aspirations is a success.
  2. Practice gratitude. Take time each day to appreciate the good things in your life. Gratitude fosters a sense of contentment and helps shift your focus away from what others have that you lack.
  3. Embrace your uniqueness. We all have our own strengths, talents, and experiences that make us special. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  4. Limit social media consumption. Take breaks from social media platforms that might trigger feelings of inadequacy. Focus instead on real-life connections that nurture your spirit.
  5. Surround yourself with positive influences. Seek out people who uplift and support you, who celebrate your successes and encourage your growth.
  6. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness exercises like meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to detach from negative comparisons. By focusing on the present moment, you can cultivate a sense of peace and acceptance.
  7. Reframe your thinking. When you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, challenge those negative thoughts. Ask yourself if the comparison is truly fair, and if it serves you in any way.
  8. Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. We all make mistakes and experience setbacks. Treat yourself with the same understanding and support you would offer a close friend.
  9. Celebrate others’ successes authentically. When someone you care about achieves something great, find joy in their accomplishment. This shift in perspective fosters genuine connection and reduces the sting of envy.
  10. Incorporate natural health supplements. Promote harmony between your mind and your body by consuming natural ingredients.

Finding Balance: A Natural Approach

We believe in supporting your journey toward well-being. Our natural supplements are formulated with ingredients that can help nurture your inner peace. Ashwagandha, for instance, is an adaptogenic herb that can help manage stress and anxiety, promoting emotional balance. 

By combining natural solutions with a conscious effort to break free from the comparison trap, you can cultivate a sense of inner harmony and self-acceptance. Remember, true happiness comes from focusing on your own unique journey, celebrating your progress, and nurturing your inner balance. 

You Are Enough

The pressure to keep up with others can be immense. But remember, you are on your own unique path, with your own set of strengths and challenges. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for unhappiness. Instead, focus on your own growth, celebrate your achievements, and embrace the beautiful journey that unfolds before you.

At Natural Balance, we believe that fostering a sense of well-being starts from within. By prioritizing self-care, practicing mindfulness, and celebrating your unique journey, you can cultivate a sense of welfare that starts from within.


  • “Social Comparison Theory,” Psychology Today,
  • Magda Murawska, “The Dangers of Comparison,” The Albert Ellis Institute,,feelings%20of%20diminished%20self%2Dworth.
  • Hasaan Mansoor, “The Risks of Social Comparison: How Comparing Ourselves to Others Affects Our Mental Health,” Linkedin, June 4, 2023,
  • BetterHelp Editorial Team, “Social Comparison: Benefits and Risks of Comparing Yourself to Others,” BetterHelp, April 24, 2024,
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