Why Comparing Yourself to Others Stifles Recovery

Why Comparing Yourself to Others Stifles Recovery

It’s normal, and perhaps inevitable to try to gauge your progress by looking around and seeing how others are doing. It’s hard to know if we’re heading in the right direction, especially when trying something new. While comparing yourself to others might be tempting, it can make recovery more difficult. Here’s why.

Comparisons are divisive. When you want to know how your recovery is going by comparing yourself to others, you typically look to other people in treatment or other members of your 12-step group. The problem with that is you start to see others as rivals when really you are on the same team. You may even resent someone else’s success, especially if that person has about the same time sober as you. No one likes to feel left behind. A better attitude is to be happy for some else’s success in sobriety because if she can do it, you can do it. Being part of a supportive group is far more important in the long run than checking off accomplishments. 

You never know the whole story. Even if you start treatment or start attending 12-step meetings around the same time as someone else, you don’t really know whether any comparison you make with that person is valid. She may be representing herself in the best possible light, sharing her successes while downplaying her struggles. She may have had some advantages you didn’t have. Meanwhile, you are likely more preoccupied with your own struggles, perhaps neglecting to notice your successes.

Comparing makes you depressed. There are really two kinds of judgments you can make when you compare yourself to others. You can either decide you’re doing better, which makes you feel smug, or you can decide you’re doing worse, which makes you depressed. No one likes to be around someone who thinks she’s better than others and feeling depressed is no way to stay sober. Comparisons imply there is something inherent in who you are, that you’re somehow not as good. Recovery is more about accepting who you are and improving what you do. It’s perfectly fine to look at someone who has made progress you admire and think, “Ok, she is more involved in meetings and seems to feel great; maybe if I get more involved, I can feel better too.” Looking for what works is not the same as comparison.

Recovery is not a zero-sum game. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your chances of success. If anything, it improves them. Just as having friends who still use can drag you back into addiction, having friends who are doing well can drag you forward into recovery. When your team wins, you win too. 

Offering a full range of recovery and mental health services, Detox Center of Colorado offers “Expanded Recovery” to enrich our clients’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Detox Center of Colorado fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today for more information: 303-536-5463

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