One of the most “popular” mind games that so many of us play is also the game that causes destruction and pain. This is the game that nobody wins.
The Comparison Game.
You might play it too.
Do you compare yourself to others?
At a party, do you look around at the other men or women and judge how attractive/thin/fit/muscular/successful you are compared to them? This can make or break your night!
Do you think about your partner's exes and think about how you believe you measure up against them? Whether it's performance in bed, appearance, how much money you make or how deeply you love your partner, you might spend a lot of time trying to figure out how you stack up against your partner's past loves.
Do you compare your partner with others?
Do you line up your current partner's behavior and words against your memories of those of your ex to see how similar or different they are? If your partner says something that reminds you of your ex-- who betrayed you-- it could feel like a fait accompli that this relationship is just as doomed!
Do you congratulate yourself on finally picking a great partner compared with how mean/self-centered/lying/cheating/dull/passionless (or other adjectives) your ex was? This can feel good in the moment and it's fine to notice your growth.
But, this continued focus will keep you with one foot stuck in the past which makes it really difficult to fully engage with your relationship in the now.
The comparison game can happen frequently or occasionally. It can be about any number of personality or achievement attributes. You might mostly deem yourself (or your partner) to be the “winner” or “loser.”
Still, the habit of comparing yourself or your partner to others is one that will cause trouble in your relationship, will trigger and inflame jealousy and will undermine your confidence and self worth.
Every. Single. Time.
Even if you judge yourself as better than others in some way, you'll probably feel fearful about keeping that edge. If you are sure that your current partner is the best you've ever had, you might be so focused on how he or she is not your ex, you're going to miss out on connecting in the here and now.
It's natural to look for external indicators of how you're doing in life. Most of us grow up feeling some sense of how we “rank” with our peers. Comparing a current experience with the past provides a frame of reference that can be helpful in some ways.
But, while it's natural and normal to play the comparison game, it's not beneficial to spend your time or energy doing this.
Remember, YOU get to choose what you will focus on and practice.
The more you practice the dangerous comparison game, the more your sense of self-worth or appreciation for your relationship will be dependent on how you believe you compare.
It's a tenuous and shaky foundation for both self esteem and a healthy, happy relationship.