Comparing yourself to others is a familiar human tendency regardless of it dampening our confidence. We not only catch ourselves comparing but often experiences others doing it. We experience others trying to persuade us by using comparison, just consider television commercials for facial cream, politics, and beauty contests.
We tend to compare our houses, incomes, body shape, manicures, cars, walk, talk, friends, social media hits, and the list goes on. The habit of comparing ourselves to others may have started in kindergarten when we noticed that a certain kid had more toys or a prettier Mom.
We felt less than and then we grew up. But the habit continues, especially when it comes to comparing our emotional pain to others. In therapy counselling sessions it is not unusual to hear, “But what I went through is nothing compared to others.” I tell them, “That may be true. At the same time there is little you can do about others’ suffering, but you can embrace healing for yourself. That will make a better world.”
The shame and vulnerability researcher and author Brené Brown has said that comparison is inevitable. In her book, Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution, she wrote:
Comparative suffering is a function of fear and scarcity. Falling down, screwing up, and facing hurt often lead to bouts of second-guessing our judgment, our self-trust, and even our worthiness. I am enough can slowly turn into Am I really enough? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that fear and scarcity immediately trigger comparison, and even pain and hurt are not immune to being assessed and ranked. . . Hurt is hurt, and every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us..
There is also the habit of comparing ourselves to how much other people do or don’t do. A colleague recently told me, “Other people do so much more than me.” It seems in every circle there is a Robust Roberta or Hardy Harry. They put in long hours, accomplish much, and seem to effortlessly dance up Mount Everest! The result of all this comparison is diminished confidence.
We lose confidence when we believe we would be better people if we felt, thought, and acted like those we compare ourselves. We can’t. You are you and I am me. We don’t know the internal experience of others. We can merely guess. Of course, we can be inspired by others and learn from them. Then we can meld their performance into our own capacity, personality, lifestyle, and goals.
The Reality of Comparison
- Some people take very little down time and may even thrive on the fly. It’s hard to keep up or connect with them. Some of them may be at risk of burn out. Most literature would describe people like Roberta and Harry as having Type A personalities.
- Some people run like a race car and periodically collapse in an engine breakdown. This accelerate, breakdown, an then accelerate, breakdown rhythm may or may not work for them. Connecting with them is often when they need your help.
- Some people move and talk in a relaxed flow like a gentle brook. In their company we may feel either bored or peaceful.
People in each of these three speed categories vary in their effectiveness at work and in relationships. Your job is to catch yourself when you start comparing yourself to them and others. As the adage goes you can’t compare apples to oranges not to say you work or live in a fruit bowl.
Consider this: when you compare yourself to someone you consider smarter, more attractive, or more successful or you compare yourself to someone you consider less smart, less attractive or less successful than you, you are still where you are. You are still you!
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
- Our mentors and heroes model how to best negotiate, listen, act courageously, generously and compassionately, or any other number of success behaviors. It’s up to us to decide which of those activities we do in ease, bring satisfaction, and leave room to maintain connection to ourselves and our loved ones.
- We can decide our satisfactory level of our daily pace and accomplishments.
- Avoid celebrating only the busy, busy, busy life. Honor your body’s particular need for sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
- Follow your own passions rather than listening to your inner chattering of should’s, must’s and have to’s. Consider making some days lazy and hazy.
- No cat compares her daily mouse catch to others. She opens her eyes, peeks, decides if she is inspired or hungry. Then after the hunt she often returns to her nap.
- Tomorrow awaits a demonstration of your way to do you. Robust Roberta and Hardy Harry just might learn something watching!
- Now your strengths and compare how you have used them over the years. That’s the way to do comparison, noting your progress.
In conclusion, catch yourself, when you can, comparing yourself to others and risking living an inauthentic life. Remember, no one in the world can do a better job of being you than you. Bottom line, muster the confidence to show up!
Please check out these related posts:
- How to Challenge ‘Not Good Enough’ Thoughts
- Book Summary: Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Parent, and Lead.
- The Keys to Boost Your Attitude of Gratitude
Patricia Morgan MA CCC helps her readers, clients, and audiences lighten their load, brighten their outlook, and strengthen their resilience. To go from woe to WOW email a request.
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