SOCIAL COMPARISON Theory: Mental barriers of SUCCESS (Part 2)

We compare ourselves with others and then make judgments about how successful we are based on these comparisons.


There are two types of comparisons that we do:

Downward comparisons (with those who seem to have it worse than we do)

Upward comparisons (with people who seem to have it better than us)

Making downward comparisons often make us feel better about ourselves and our accomplishments. But when we make upward comparisons we feel bad about ourselves and unaccomplished.


According to the paper published in the journal Science, reported that quote “activation in brain areas related to reward respond to relative differences in wealth even more than absolute amounts.” what this means is that when many Silicon Valley millionaires compared themselves to the billionaires, they felt deprived because they can’t keep up with the billionaires.


Another study conducted in 2014 in which researchers did neuro-mapping subjects to identify the activity of social comparisons, and the study revealed similar results to the paper published in the journal Science.

They also revealed that whenever we interact with others, we judge them and whenever we make such judgments, we compare them with ourselves, other people, or internalized personal standards.

Countless social psychological experiments have shown that comparative thinking plays a ubiquitous role in person perception and social cognition as a whole. Simply put, we can always find an area in which we’re not as good as others, such as appearance, athletic skill, or career achievement.

Comparisons puts a lot of pressure on us to either be the same or better, but we fail to take into account the different circumstances of others people and ours.


What would life be like If you could afford a daily chef, a life coach, and a personal trainer, you would likely be as fit as the movie-stars or the models. That would be a dream, wouldn’t it? But all these luxuries are not available to all and therefore comparing ourselves to the movie-stars or models is kind of a recipe for disaster.

The movie-stars and models have a full time job and its purpose is for them to look good and be fit. Most of us have a totally different purpose and its to manage competing priorities like going to work, managing their business, and spending quality time with family.


There are 3 things that Entrepreneurs and Creatives compare most often to: 

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Risks and Profitability
  • Yourself


Creativity and Innovation

All creatives and innovators reach the point in their process where it feels that everything has been done already.


Now you start to compare your creativity with other and doing this starts to drain your creative energy, because if they are better than you, you will envy them or admire them so much that you idealize them and then panic. If they are not better then you will look down on their creativity. Both ways are not helping you advance or adding anything to you.


Innovation doesn’t come from envy or judging others. It comes from within you and by brainstorming with your team and staying authentic to yourself or your brand.


Risks and Profitability

Risks and profits are always compared, but these two things go hand in hand. If you take risks and you learn from them by recovering from the downfalls. This recovery will then create your and your brand’s character. Now if you compare your risks and decide to take similar risk that another person took, you might not be able to recover from the downfalls of that risk because of numerous missing variables.


Because in your risk The main person that initially took the risk is not the same, time is not the same, mindset is not the same and many more. If you won’t go and take the same risks that other person did, because you two are totally different then why should you compare your profits and revenue to them.


Comparing Yourself

Unfortunately, parents often compare kids to their siblings and those labels can become our self-image. Comparisons like you’re the athletic one, while your sister has the brains.

Comparisons are oversimplifications of the complexities and the gifts we all possess as human beings. The best comparison to make is what you know now and what you are doing today, that takes your individual circumstances and personal ability to respond to current challenges into account.

Entrepreneurs often look at the founders of other companies and compare their own experience and expertise to others. Remember everyone starts from zero, all of us had different challenges in our personal and professional lives. Today who we are is the  byproduct  of  us overcoming or experiencing personal and professional challenges.

We can be inspired, motivated and even learn from others but have a mental barrier that the other person had certain experiences, and expertise, therefore they are better or will be more successful than you is incorrect.

There are many podcasts out there and at the time of launching we did make this mistake, of comparing ourselves to the greats of the podcast and blogging world. For a moment that even made us discouraged, but identifying and acknowledging that at some point they started from zero as well.

We have many advantages that other might not, or the people who are successful in podcasting and blogging space maybe had their own personal advantages. So focus on your authentic self and what you bring to the table vs comparing yourself to others who are more successful.

Experience, Adaptability and Knowledge are the key but nothing beats good old Hard-Work when applied correctly.

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