“No one makes you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt
When I knew I wanted to write on this subject, I was a little intimidated. For good reason, I believe.
To uncover and call out all the destructive forms of “comparison” in all its layers and intricacies? That’s a big task to take on, for anyone. But out of all the things we need to address to ourselves, comparison is the elephant in the room. So, here we are.
Let’s start with a little bit of reflection. How exactly do you think comparison has affected your life lately?
You are certainly not alone if the only thing comparison contributes to your life is mostly negative. Feelings of discontent, jealousy, unworthiness, and sadness often stem from when we ourselves compare our behind the scenes moments to the social media highlight reels of another.
So, why exactly do we continue to compare if it has such awful consequences?
Well, first off, because it’s easy. It’s the most second nature thing that we can do. We are always wondering how we rank with people. But, again…it would be so much easier if we didn’t concern ourselves with the constant need to be best. Why do we do it?
Is it because we feel our worth somehow increases if we have the perfect hair, the perfect teeth, the perfect job, the perfect home? Is that why we idealize those we feel do have all those things and more? Do we really think that’s the end all of living? Or is life really about who you are, first and fore most?
It’s easy to say to yourself, “yes! Life is about who you are on the inside, not the outside.” But, when it comes down to the way we live? We contradict ourselves completely, by glorifying any well dressed, rich, and beautiful person like they aren’t entirely as human as we are.
The thing is, if we base our worth on feelings of worth, we will always be on a see-saw of emotions. We will never have a firm foundation of identity and we will never grasp our real worth.
So how are we going to address this comparison monster?
By getting to the heart of comparison, and debunking every little lie it whispers in your ear.
The perfection illusion
The people we compare ourselves to seem to have it all. At least, all that we think we are lacking. Whether that be the looks we think we don’t live up to, or the travel photography we wish we could have taken in person, whether it be the friend that seems like they have it ALL together…
We all are attracted to the ultimate “if only’s” in life. If only I looked like that. If only I had that job. If only I were that outgoing ALL the time. If only I were that perfect. Every time we allow ourselves to think like this, we are bashing who we are in the worst way possible, and truthfully…undermining all the good parts about us as humans.
The truth is, the same people you may be comparing yourself to in everyday life could just as well be comparing themselves to you, just in different ways.
When have we become so harsh on ourselves that we create an observational task force on what features look better on others, than the ones we own? Or the aspects of our life that seem to be less than ideal, compared to the ideal in other people’s lives?
We are not continually in competition with our fellow man.
Believing we are in constant competition will most definitely have detrimental consequences to our own personal growth. Or at least our CONTENTMENT with our own personal growth.
Viewing life as one big competition is a mistake that threatens to take away all the potential encouragement and genuine happiness we could be feeling for others when they succeed!
All of us humans, are at different stages in growth and development. When you hit a certain age, usually many of your friends are at different stages in life. So, don’t beat up on yourself for not being at a certain stage yet, or not feeling you “have it all together” right now. Seriously, who DOES have it all together right away? We learn as we live.
When you remind yourself that you are not in competition with every person that comes along, you give yourself room to SUPPORT others! Be encouraging of others! Love others! It’s extremely freeing to realize this. This struck me even more, when just the other day a friend was telling me about something new and important going on in their lives, and I got so overwhelmingly and genuinely excited for them!
They told me, “I’m so glad I could tell you and you’re excited about this! Because I told someone else and they weren’t excited. Actually, I think they were jealous.”
I thought, wow. I’m so glad I could be supportive of this friend. What IF I would’ve let the comparison game dominate? That would’ve been an awful mistake. Because the way I reacted is exactly how I would want my friends to react to excited news I would share with them! Support your friends. Be happy for them. Don’t compare. Don’t compete. (And trust me, this is coming from an athlete. You know how hard not competing is for me sometimes)!
Comparison Kills Contentment
This was told to me by one of my favorite middle school teachers. Comparison kills contentment. I’ve carried that with me ever since then, and it has become so much more prevalent when I realized just how true it is through everyday life. Keep this knowledge with you and pull this saying out from the corners of your mind whenever you need that reminder.
Don’t ever allow yourself to feel inferior by the good qualities another soul possesses. The good qualities in another does not equal the lack of good qualities in yourself.
You yourself have a billion gifts and good qualities about you. Many you’ve yet to learn about! So, please, take the time to hone them, focus on your growth, and embrace all the unique aspects that make up yourself as a person.
There are indeed forms of healthy comparison.
Have mentors and role models before you, that exemplify a life worth living. There are indeed healthy reminders of how to live life. So, follow those healthy reminders wholeheartedly, because your life is a life worth living well.
So, how should we go forward and conquer UNHEALTHY comparison once and for all?
By following these steps every time the comparison bug starts to rear its head.
Acknowledge we are not in constant competition with our fellow man.
Acknowledge that we are on a unique journey and timeline of life, all our own.
Acknowledge comparison, more often than not, kills valuable contentment in our own personal growth.
Acknowledge that the existent of good qualities in another person does not equate the lack of good qualities in yourself.
I hope you can carry these lessons with you, as I try to carry them with me, as well.
A lot of times a writer writes something important like this, they are writing from experience, and they are also writing to remind themselves. So, you are not alone in this journey called life!
I wish you all the best and that you live a life content in the progress you are making.
Until next time,