Is Something Wrong with Me? | Strategies to Gain Perspective When Feeling Less Than

family individuals Oct 25, 2019

Am I good or bad at social interaction? Am I as happy as my friends? How did she get that promotion over me?

It is amazing how many aspects of our lives we compare to the experiences of others. Comparisons are natural when we are pitting apples against apples. Sadly, most of the comparisons we make in life are between two unlike things. Our weaknesses to their strengths. Our overflowing laundry basket to their picture-perfect Instagram feed. You get the idea! Sadly, this can lead us to feel as though we don’t measure up, when in reality we may just be equipped with different coping abilities. 


The Coping Comparison Conundrum 


“This situation didn’t even bother him, but it’s wrecking me. Why is he so much stronger than I am?” 

Questions like this stem from coping comparisons, and I hear them all the time. The truth is that no two people are exactly alike. Many things determine our coping threshold for small but significant stressors and traumatic experiences alike. For example, a young person who was guarded from family challenges might struggle to resolve strife as quickly as a peer who was exposed to disagreements. Genetics have a role to play as well. Were you raised in a family that responds to crisis with calm, or chaos? Traumatic experiences can also change a person’s innate coping capacity, causing it to either increase or decrease depending on how that experience was resolved. Another major factor in handling challenges is personalization—how close is the chaos to my family or my situation? If the answer is “very close,” then naturally that challenge will be more difficult to address. 

All of the things mentioned above impact how comfortable we are with chaos. Needless to say, it is impossible to know how all of these factors come into play in the life of another person, which is why drawing conclusions about why he or she seems to interpret chaos differently isn’t a very fruitful exercise. What we do know is that no two people experience an event in the same way.


What did you see? What were the sounds? Were there smells that stood out? What do you remember touching? Was there any taste to the stuff in the air?

Based on their sensory experiences, every individual will tell the story differently. Considering all of this sensory input and each of our individual backgrounds and life experiences, how could any two people have the exact same response to chaos? 

Every chaotic event offers the potential to grow and establish good peering habits and coping methods (learn more about building a buffer here). However, no two people will ever experience a chaotic event in the same way. Rather than asking, “Is there is something wrong with me?”, identify what doesn’t feel right and determine to deal with it in a way that offers growth on the other side.   

The first step toward making a necessary change is acceptance. The next step is executing a plan to make sure that change occurs. 


Food for Thought

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
— Nathaniel Branden
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
— Joseph Campbell
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