I was taken by the topic of this book, because I do believe comparisons can be harmful, like the old quote says “Comparison is the thief of joy”. But, I did not love this book. The book begins with several chapters of normalizing comparisons, talking about how it’s our own perceptions and thinking that make comparisons negative, and distinguishing between upward comparisons (comparing ourselves to people we perceive are better) and downward comparisons (comparing ourselves to people we perceive as worse). He goes into great depth about the research on comparisons, and how social media impacts the comparisons we make. All of this is interesting, but not really practical help.
The practical help comes later in the book and is basically a CBT (cognitive behavioral) approach to working with our own thinking in terms of comparisons. The tools are that when we make upward comparisons, we need to pause and figure out if we can be motivated to be better by this comparison or if it’s just hurtful. And then we either make a plan to be better, or let it go. Similarly, if we’re making a downward comparison, we figure out if this comparison can help us be more empathetic or if it’s just to stoke our ego, and then either become more empathetic, or let it go. He suggests that it’s most helpful to compare ourselves with ourselves – our past self being the downward comparison and our ideal self being the upward comparison. Lastly, he discusses what to do if the comparison we are making is valid – if we really are worse or better than someone, with the techniques being largely the same.
This book might be useful if you have no idea how CBT therapy works and have never worked with automatic thoughts and replacing those thoughts with more constructive ones, or if you really, really struggle with comparisons. But I feel like the tools here are pretty basic and really don’t address any of the underlying issues with comparison (although he does talk a bit about self-esteem). It’s a quick read and interesting, but there aren’t in-depth exercises like some of the other self-help books that I’ve reviewed and unless this topic is of extreme interest, I’d skip it.
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