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No Comparisons: Why We Shouldn’t Judge the Quality of Our Sobriety Against Other People’s

It’s easy to compare ourselves to other people in the program. We naturally see the highlight reel of their lives in meetings and feel like ours doesn’t measure up.

They may drive up in a nice car, share about good things happening in our lives, and they never seem to have any issues. Meanwhile, we may feel stuck in a rut in our sobriety, and there’s not much to show for it. We think something must be wrong with us.

However, don’t be discouraged. There’s no rule that we have to measure up in light of what sobriety has provided for other people. Instead, we should measure our progress with where we were yesterday, not against another person’s external display.

Let’s keep the following in mind when we think our sober progress isn’t enough when someone else seems to have it all.

People Naturally Tend to Adtervise the Good and Ignore the Bad

Even among a group of fellow alcoholics, people can’t shake off the tendency of the “normie” world, which is to boast about the good things and hide the bad. It’s a form of self-preservation and a lack of humility.

Our faults and mistakes make us human and draw people to us. Not many can relate to someone who aces life and finds no trouble in their daily affairs.

Much like social media or a company event, people bring to the rooms their ideas about what makes good interaction. They believe that there’s no difference in a room of recovery alcoholics than a neighborly content of keeping up with the Jones’. Give them space. They may soon come around to understanding that the rooms are one of the few places in the world to get real and get honest since we’re all in the same boat.

In other words, we come to the rooms with the same mission and glaring defects that we want to solve, and the old-timers realize that no heights of economic, social, or material status can put us ahead of anyone else in the quality of our recovery.

You Only See A Single Hour Snapshot of Their Lives

Again like social media, you’re only shown a small slice of others’ lives, the parts they want to show you. You don’t get to see the other 23 hours of their day and complete knowledge of how they’re doing.

So to compare yourself to someone’s “highlight reel” is a sure path to misery. It’s not helpful when you don’t see all of the raw footage of other members’ lives. We all have raw footage, and there’s no shame if you do too.

People Have Winning Streaks

After accumulating time, we have periods of immense luck, success, and a feeling of having “made it.” This feeling is natural but temporary. Someone may legitimately have entered into a period of immense success, and we may be jealous.

Cheer up. We may soon come across such a period in our lives. The primary prerequisite is to stay the course, putting one foot in front of another. We should focus on the small wins as we clean up our past.

We don’t usually receive all of the promises and gifts of sobriety flooding into our lives at one time. Instead, it’s more of a gradual process as we incrementally improve on small areas.

The Pink Cloud Blinds Us to our Problems

The Pink Cloud is especially prevalent among newcomers. It may be the first time in their lives when they’ve put together substantial sobriety time, such as a few months or a year.

Our feelings of health, improved sleep, and better finances have a way of triggering a type of euphoria that life is good. And why shouldn’t it? It may be the first time in our adult lives when we experience the good things of living responsibly.

We think we can conquer all of our problems in a few hours, and we get irritated when we discover they may take a long time to unravel. We become infatuated with recovery and shun anyone who seems to struggle with it as failures. However, when we suddenly feel better, we can switch to feelings of invisibility.

People in the pink cloud can stay there a while and irritate anyone who takes a more holistic and realistic view of sobriety as a long-term drudge to improved living. The honest take is that sobriety brings difficult times and good times. Focusing only on the good puts us in a place of danger. We may shun the more challenging work of looking at our character defects, making amends from our past, and helping others.

Alcoholics Bring Dential to Their Perception of Reality

Our most glaring defense mechanism, denial, is slow to leave. Many alcoholics still rely on it to avoid more painful work.

A large part of this denial is to hide where we’ve gone wrong or continue engaging in destructive behavior. So the one in denial puts up a rosy facade.

An easy way to recognize someone in this state is that they avoid all talks of what’s going on in their lives. They keep the conversation superficial and focused on other topics besides themselves. You may be able to get them to open up by sharing what’s going on in your life as an icebreaker.

Everyone Has Ups and Downs and Boring Stretches of Sobriety

Let’s face it. Most of the time, sobriety is a party every day. The world expects us to become average members of society, from which we took a long hiatus. Eventually, our friends and family get used to the fact that we’ve become sober. Our miracle of sobriety loses its novelty, despite the gift that it still is.

So as we settle into our newfound life, we might get irritated by anyone who’s struck gold in recovery. We become somewhat closed-minded in understanding what makes strong, long-term recovery, rather than accepting someone else’s joy at a new job, new spouse, or successful home runs.

Let’s not get too complacent in how we think recovery should appear on the outside. We’ve probably had our fair shares of delight and loss of grounding, and we were welcomed just the same, with patience and tolerance. We should leave room for others to experience the same and stand by for them when they return to the ground.

Comparison Makes Us Feel Worse in Most Cases

At all times, we can pick highlights from members’ lives to make us feel worse about our situation.

Somewhere out there, someone is always doing better than us in a particular aspect, and we’ll find it if we are looking for it. However, it won’t do us much good knowing this unless we humbly learn from their experience. Dwelling how other people have bested us leads to misery and despair and paralyzes us in our progress.

If we’re looking for ammo to beat ourselves with, there’s plenty of it constantly. Filling our minds with this ammo isn’t going to do us much good.

Strive to Learn and congratulate Rather Than Minimize

If we remain humble, we can learn from the success of others. Perhaps they’ve overcome a problem we are dealing with and have powerful lessons to share with you. If we remain open to their story, rather than bitter, we can gain an edge over what may be a confounding issue that has held us up.

Congratulating someone on their success, even if it doesn’t feel genuine, also has a way of releasing us from jealousy. It cleans up our side of the street in a way that we don’t rain on their parade. We have to act the part of someone who shares the good and bad with others to gain the benefits.

Other people also have a strong sense of when another person feels envy. Perhaps they may be trying to arouse that feeling in others selfishly. It’s better not to paint yourself in their eyes as a stumbling block. They’ll still count you as an ally after it’s all over or try to share the spoils with you. Remember, the feelings of euphoria are always temporary, but your reaction often leaves a permanent impression in other people’s minds.


We’ve covered why it’s a useless endeavor to score the quality of our sobriety against other people’s. We don’t get to see the whole story of their lives. We forget that there are ups and downs in everyone’s lives. Or we may get stuck in fixed ideas of what sobriety should look like.

Though the natural pull is to become angry and jealous, a better approach for our sanity is to measure our progress against our past, seeing how far we’ve come. Another protective measure is to congratulate others on their success, even if it doesn’t feel authentic. The act removes us from dwelling on envy and leaves a better impression in the other person’s mind.

Focus on tending to your own small steps of improvement. Let’s not get wrapped up in a feeling of a rat race of keeping up with other members. The rooms are a place to recognize our flaws and work on them, even if some members appear to treat it as a popularity contest and a place to show off to boost their egos.

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