The Disease of Comparing Ourselves

About 2 minutes to read

In a recent conversation with my friend and colleague Katrina Bourke in Australia, we touched on a very important topic of how we often are in a state of comparing ourselves to others.  How we look at other people and see them as being better or worse than we are.  More often than not, we tend to become stuck on seeing them as being better than we are.  For example, you might work with someone and think, “Wow!  They really have their shit together!  They know how…  They’re so good…  I’m just useless…” and so the story goes.

When we get into a state of comparison, we don’t do ourselves any favours.  We take a moment in time to look at someone else and begin comparing ourselves and then we judge ourselves.  We put ourselves down.  We feel unworthy and believe we can’t accomplish great things and will never be good enough or get our shit together.  This does not help us in any way.  In fact, it is utter madness.  Imagine being the captain of a great ship and climbing the mast to view the horizon and look for land.  Before scaling the mast, you place a patch over your one eye, and take a small spy scope to view the horizon.  Once in position you only look through the scope in one direction completely missing the full picture. This is what we do when we are comparing ourselves to others.

The constant comparison is utterly limiting and does not help us to achieve our highest accomplishments or potential, it doesn’t even help us to be happy!  When we are in a state of comparing ourselves, we cannot enjoy who we are as a person.

In the Desiderata Max Ehrmann says:

“Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.  If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

By comparing ourselves to others, we do a great disservice to ourselves.  The constant judgement and focusing on the lack leaves us with a poverty mentality and in extreme cases low or no self-esteem and even extreme bitterness.  We are conditioned from birth to always be judging and comparing ourselves, so how to break the cycle you might ask.

I think until we develop a habit of not comparing ourselves to others we need to take it one day at a time. Therefore, I decided that just for today I would not compare myself with anyone, not look at others and think that I’m worse off or better than they are.  As Ehrmann says, there will always be those greater and lesser than we are, that’s just the way life is.  Therefore, today I am just going to be happy within myself and be joyful with what I have achieved and who I am as a person.  That’s all that I can do.  Just for today!

What about me, you may ask.  Well my advice is the same. Go forth and enjoy your day, don’t compare yourself with others and just be friggin awesome.  When you fall off the wagon, get back up, remember to focus on yourself and commit to changing this habit one day at a time, just for today!

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