The Comparison Demon, pt 2

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I recently read a post on the Crowing Crone Joss blog entitled, “The Comparison Demon”. This got me thinking about one thing she said in particular: “you shouldn’t be so awesome, it makes me feel bad.”

This was in reference to comparing one’s own work to that of another of superb quality, although those aren’t the words that were used. The comparison results in the former feeling badly that his/her own work doesn’t meet the quality of the latter and, hence, “makes me feel bad.”

She said, “All the time you are thinking that the work, the skill of other people makes you look bad, you are reflecting back to them an energy that says your work is resulting in negativity in my life.”

I thought that was wonderful insight. It’s the blame game.

What we are in effect doing by having that sort of attitude is trying to put a guilt trip on the more talented person so we might feel better about our own work, which we have judged to be inferior. Of course, the other person may never even know of this attitude; therefore, the only one generally being hurt by it is the one who possesses it—i.e., the sender.

Yet, if the other person is aware of that jealousy, it may or may not affect him/her. It depends on the emotional nature of that person.

Nevertheless, I think the comparison demon, to use Crowing Crone Joss’s terminology, is a very prevalent attitude among many people today, especially among the artsy crowd, who tend to be somewhat sensitive about their own art anyway. Been there, done that. But it’s not limited to the artsy crowd.

I have found that trying to improve oneself can definitely be threatening to some of those supposedly “close” to us. I think this is because one person’s change can be threatening to another’s comfort zone.

In a relationship, particularly among those who might not be, say, quite emotionally mature, one gets “used” to how the other behaves, even if that behavior tends to be negative. This is typically seen in abusive relationships that go on for years.

As strange as it may sound, if one partner begins to make an effort to improve him/herself, it is often the case that this is met with suspicion and negativity. Hence, what is meant for a positive thing can turn out to be negative in the eyes of the other partner.

Unless the person trying to effect the change is really committed to that change, it becomes easy to fall back into more familiar territory, one in which both parties will feel more “comfortable” and “safe”.

For instance, in my second marriage, the comparison demon was my wife. After we were divorced, she admitted what I felt all along. She told me she was always comparing me to the guy she went with before we met. Ironically, it was he who dumped her. Obviously I came out on the losing end of that comparison.

Comparison is most often an unconscious thing and sometimes it’s hard to get a handle on in order to effect a change. But as Winston Churchill once said to the students at Harrow School in England where he once attended, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give in. Never give in. Never give in. Never give in.”
Comparison is a demon, as Crowing Crone Joss said. It can demonize the receiver and it definitely demonizes the sender. No one wins. Yet, if one is firmly entrenched in its sticky grasp, it is very difficult to let go of. It is even more difficult to get rid of if we are not even aware that we have the problem.

Here’s the thing: One doesn’t generally want to hear that he/she has a problem. They’ll argue tooth and nail that they don’t have a problem and, likely as not, will try to put the problem on the other person. Or, they’ll bring up some other problem, real or imagined, the other person has in order to deflect the conversation away from their comparison demon, or whatever.

So, what does one do should he/she be involved with another who is a comparison demon? Well, the answer varies and I definitely do not have all the answers. I may not have any of them.

At my present level of emotional maturity (I only hope it’s better than it used to be), if I were in a relationship with a comparison demon, I would flee as fast as Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:12). Hopefully, however, I wouldn’t be leaving my garment in her hand, as did Joseph. 🙂

It almost doesn’t do any good to try and discuss this situation with another for reasons already mentioned. One can try. I would never say don’t try.

I guess it all boils down to how much one is committed to the relationship, good or bad. Perhaps we can start a discussion and come up with some other ideas. I’m open.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Crowing Crone Joss
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 18:22:44

    no one wins the comparison game. best not to play!


  2. MargeKatherine
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 09:55:31

    Maturity is the key word,isn’t it? Knowing one’s self and expressing like or dislike because of life experiences, not because of petty ‘What if” thoughts. Wonderful post that got me to thinking about comparison demons.

    I think it’s part of human nature to keep looking and wondering but that can be done in a small compartment of your brain while the rest of your being is living in the ‘here and now.’


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