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The Harm in Comparing Ourselves and Our Recovery Journeys to Others

When we’re struggling with addiction and mental illness, we often develop toxic mental and emotional patterns that hurt us, that limit us and that impede our growth. One of the most common is our tendency to compare ourselves to other people and to compare our recovery journeys to theirs. We feel competitive with other people. We feel threatened by people we assume are happier than we are or who appear to be healthier and further along in their recoveries. We envy their health and success and feel inferior to them. We start to hate and resent them. We look down on them to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. We suffer from low self-esteem, and we lack confidence and self-worth. The tendency to compare ourselves to others is often a reflection of unhealed wounds we haven’t yet addressed. Our relentless thoughts of comparison, competition and envy are usually a symptom of something much deeper.

For many of us, our pattern of comparing ourselves to other people in recovery stems from deeply rooted fears of inadequacy, inferiority and unworthiness that originated from some form of traumatic experience. Trauma can destabilize us, make us feel unsure of ourselves, and contribute to our self-hatred and insecurity. When we haven’t healed our wounds, we seek out any possible way to make ourselves feel better, to provide ourselves with some comfort and relief. Our anxiety and our fears make us compare ourselves to other people and compete with them, and we’re constantly looking around to see what other people are doing, how they’re doing, and if they’re faring better than we are. We might believe that determining who is better and who is recovering more successfully will help us to feel better about ourselves. We might think that we’re not doing our best if we’re not competing against other people. Our subconscious fears are so intense they cause us to seek mental and emotional relief from our pain with the distractions of envy and competition. In the moment, we might feel reassured knowing we’re doing better than others are, or we might feel a twinge of vindication when we see someone else suffering. On the other hand, when we feel as though we’re falling short and can’t compare, we feel depressed, ashamed and inadequate. Over time, our tendencies towards judgment of other people and of ourselves begins to weigh on us, and we start to see just how much we’ve been hurting ourselves.

Comparing ourselves and our journeys to other people’s means we’re focusing our attention outwardly rather than inwardly. We’re giving our energy to competition rather than to introspection, self-reflection and self-development. We’re giving precious time and internal resources to the wrong things, to external distractions rather than to our own internal healing. We’re worsening our mental and emotional health. We often feel compelled to turn to our drugs of choice for solace, so we’re exacerbating our addictive patterns. In the process of comparing ourselves to other people, we’re giving ourselves more pain to have to heal from. We  accumulate layers of pain from our deep insecurities and self-rejection. We’re not loving and accepting ourselves. We’re not giving ourselves the internal environment of love, compassion and understanding that we need in order to get well.

As we’re working to recover from addiction, we’ll need to heal our self-perception and grow in self-love, so that we can shed our destructive patterns of comparison and competition. We want to become so self-loving that we feel driven to focus on ourselves and our own path. We want to be able to see other people succeeding and wish them well, rather than coveting their success, envying them and begrudging their blessings. We want to have compassion and understanding for people when they’re struggling, rather than gaining satisfaction from their pain. We want to elevate our consciousness and transcend the limitations of our wounded ego minds that tell us we’re separate from each other and in competition with one another. As we heal, we see that competition is an illusion, and we’re actually all in this together. We stand to gain so much from other people and their experience, knowledge and wisdom. We can use everything we learn from their stories as tools in our own personal development. Their life experiences can become part of our recovery survival guide. When we stop comparing ourselves, we start seeing how much we could actually be helping one another and lifting each other up rather than trying to bring each other down, and bringing ourselves down in the process. We start seeing all of our commonalities and all of the universal elements of addiction, the struggle and pain, the heartbreak and disappointment of defeat, and we begin to have more compassion for the people who are going through the same things. We start to seek out people who can relate to us, empathize with us and understand us, and we start to reach out to people who might need our support. We start to form connections where before we felt divisiveness. We start to want to extend our love to other people, when for so long we were withholding it from them. We begin to want to see other people with love and light rather than judgment and envy.

At The Guest House Ocala, we are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse, process addiction, anxiety and depression in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.