“Happiness in the present is only shattered by comparison with the past.” – Douglas Horton
Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Does the comparison to others stack you favorably or does it make you feel bad and generate unhappiness and discontent?
Let me tall you a story from my past. There was a time when I was playing a lot of tennis and even considered going professional. Here was a sport that I enjoyed so much that I could play for hours and still stay motivated. In other words, I simply loved playing tennis.
It turned out that to become radically better in the sport, I needed a lot more than just practice. I needed a personal coach, funding and other support systems. Also, I was a lot younger and did not understand the deleterious effects of comparison.
Instead of comparing with others to make myself better, I compared my game with others to put myself down. In other words, I was my own worst critic and judged everything based on how other successful players performed.
The result was that in my mind, I was “not good enough” and eventually ended up not playing anymore.
I am sure that you may relate to this story because you may have not pursued something in your past because you did not measure up to others. Or you may have made yourself miserable in your mind by the continual comparison to others and how others are better.
In my opinion, There are three kinds of comparison:
A. The constructive kind: This is when you are comparing to make your game better in your life and do not feel bad that others are doing well. You see yourself as an opportunity to grow and become a better version of your past self.
Example: My neighbors have a successful side income from selling xyz online and are able to afford more and have a high quality of life.
I am happy for them and am curious that is possible to accomplish and become successful online. How can I also set up my own side income business and increase my own material prosperity?
B. Neutral comparisons: These are comparisons that have no beneficial or negative effects on you and are made by the comparing mind as a means to make sense of things in your life.
Example: Friend A has an online business and friend B has a comparable brick and mortar store and these are the results and it is interesting to weigh the pros and cons of both methods.
C. Unfavorable or destructive comparisons: These are comparisons that your discerning or comparing mind engages automatically and makes you feel bad that you do not measure up to the standards that you are comparing against.
You feel terrible that you are not good enough and that others are getting ahead and having all the fun while you are stuck in your inertia and your setbacks.
Example: Friend A has an online business and friend B has a brick and mortar store and I feel like they are highly successful.
And what about myself? Don’t even get me started on that. I feel like somehow they are getting ahead and talking all the vacations that they want and I feel stuck in my inflexible work and situations.
When we meet in a party, I feel bad as a result of listening to their success stories and secretly resent them.
When the destructive comparison overwhelms constructive comparison, it decreases our happiness and the quality of our life because we feel like we should be doing something else to measure up with others.
How and where does comparison happen?
In a parking lot where others are driving better cars.
On social media where people are posting updates about their “perfect” lives.
Online or offline where people have influence and are well liked or have a big fan following.
At work, if peers are continually being praised and given preference.
What are some of the ways that you can get the proper perspective on destructive comparison and move on with your life?
Here are come ways that I hope will be of value to you to break out of destructive criticism:
1. Realize That Comparison Can Be The Death Of Joy
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain
When you compare yourself to others and feel, you squeeze the joy out of the moment. When this comparison becomes habitual and everything you think, feel and do or accomplish is measured against someone else, it becomes difficult to stay happy.
Become aware of the relationship between joy and unfavorable comparison.
Competitive and favorable comparison is fine but if it makes you feel bad, stop comparing with others!
Instead of comparison with others, Compare against yourself to uplift your life and not to put yourself down.
2. Where Do Your Dominant Energies Lie: Are You Comparing Or Creating?
“I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.”- William Blake
I love the above quote from Blake. Blake challenges you to get past reasoning and comparing and get to the process of expressing your own creativity.
When you make it your business to tend to your story and to your garden, you do not have the time or the attention to look over the fence and feel bad about someone else’s.
This moment and this day ask yourself if your dominant attention is on comparing with others or moving forward in your goals.
Allow your dominant mental, emotional and physical energies to be directed towards taking action to make your life better and adding value to others.
When your mind automatically compares with others, become aware of it and refocus your thoughts and energy into your creative projects.
3. You Are Wonderfully Unique And Different
“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” ― Shannon L. Alder
Are you expressing your true personality?
What is your story? Are you living it?
Are you singing your true song or are you picking up on someone else’s tune?
Are you afraid to be authentically you because you are afraid to look foolish in the opinions of others?
DO you refuse to speak up for yourself because you do not think your opinion matters?
There is little doubt that you are utterly unique and wonderful. At you very core, you are pure creativity, happiness and abundance.
But years of social conditioning and comparison and trying to meet a seemingly impossible image may have left you jaded and frustrated.
I challenge you to embrace your unique personality 100% and allow yourself to express your unique blend of experiences and wisdom. Allow you to express you while being respectful to your wishes and also being respectful to others.
Embrace your authenticity.
Express your authentic self today.
End the comparison and develop your own voice and sing your own tune.
Do not feel pressured to follow the beaten path. Change things to meet your needs and wishes and choose to be unique.
Feel proud of who you are on a continual basis.
Be respectful to your inner desires and wishes by stopping comparison and allowing uniqueness.
“I accept my uniqueness. There is no competition and no comparison, for we are all different and meant to be that way. I am special and wonderful. I love myself.” – Louise L. Hay
4. Compare To The Most Radiant Version Of You And Not To Others
“Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.”― Betty Jamie Chung
Comparing to others usually does not make you feel good about yourself and increases the discontent in your life.
When you compare your present to a vision of where you would like to go and be, you have a reference point and a target to move towards. However, remember that you need to be compassionate and non-judgmental towards your present self.
You are transforming and growing into your true potential and not making “yourself better.”
Remember that it is difficult to change and transform into your highest potential when you are judging your current state.
A butterfly does not judge or compare with the caterpillar, it just transforms into it.
“Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people.” –Nido Qubein
To feel better, focus on how you can transform into your truest and highest potential and how you measure up with others.
Comparison is a trap that never ends up making you feel good.
Drop away the self-judgment and self-criticism and embrace self-acceptance.
“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” -Unknown
5. Drop The Jealousy
“Jealousy is the fear of comparison.” – Max Frisch
We have all been envious or jealous at some time of our life. A little envy or some jealousy is normal but if it begins to take over your life, it is time to drop it.
It is best to realize that jealousy is counter productive to what you want to achieve and eats you away from the inside.
Replace excessive jealousy with appreciation and gratitude.
Make a list of things going right in your life and focus your attention on them instead of a focus on lack and limitations.
Remember that the grass is always greener on the other side and what you see may not be what is really true.
6. The Reasons Behind Excessive Comparison: Getting A Different Perspective On Comparison And Insecurity
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the- scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”- Steve Furtick
When you compare your worst case-scenario with somene’s best case scenario, it always feels futile and like you are missing out on life.
However, this is not an apples to apples comparison and you may frequently overlook that fact. In psychology literature and studies, it has been shown that negativity is a stronger and stickier state when compared to positive experiences.
When you see the best experiences of others, your comparing brain readily pulls out evidence of all your behind-the-scenes experiences and serves it up as a comparative analysis. This is a battle that you cannot win.
“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself”- Max Ehrmann
Make a list of everything that is going swimmingly in your life and keep the list ready for a quick referral whenever you get convinced that others are doing a lot better than you are.
Compare the best-case scenario of others with your best-case scenario or better still just drop away the comparison and feel great about your achievements and your life.
7. Are You Falling Short In Your Own Eyes?
“Comparison are designed to make someone fall short”― Nora Roberts
In a destructive comparison, there is a winner and there is a loser. There is someone who is doing very well and there is someone who by comparison is doing poorly.
Usually we “fall short” in the pre-conceived idea and notion that we should be like a mold or be like someone else. This usually happens when you give in to your raging perfectionism and the critical voice inside that dictates you are not enough.
Enough with that! You need to become your best friend and not give yourself a hard time from right now.
There needs to be no comparison and you do not need to be the loser or fall short.
Make a pact with yourself that you are unwilling to compare yourself to others and fall short in your own opinion and view of yourself.
Become your best friend by supporting yourself and feeling proud of who you are. The more you feel great about yourself, the less you will feel short in your view.
8. When You Compare Yourself To Others, Try Empathy
“Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what they have been through .”—Sam Cawthorn.
Sometime to keep things in perspective, it is best to remind yourself that success is hard earned for others too and they have gone through difficult times to achieve it. What we see is only the end result of the success but not the trials and setbacks.
When you are able to empathize with the humanness of others and how they face everything that you face, you can more easily drop comparison and connect with them on a deep level.
You begin to see that others have gone through a lot in their lives and feel compassion and kindness towards their success and achievement instead of feeling torn about it.
Get a perspective on comparison by empathizing with the journey of others.
Replace comparison with compassion and kindness and connection with the human condition.
9. Remember That There Is No One Way When You Compare
“Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.”― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are
Comparison is like a checkmate in a chess game. The idea, thought, emotions and situation makes you feel like there is one way to be successful and one path to live.
What you are doing and your own journey seems and feels insignificant by comparison.
But the path in manifold and there are many different view points and ways to learn and be. When you realize that your way is not wrong or right but just another way, you get relief from constant comparison.
Keep your options open and be willing to consider other possibilities.
Affirm that your path may be different but still fulfilling and unique.
10. Love Yourself Unconditionally
“Love is the total absence of fear. Love asks no questions. Its natural state is one of extension and expansion, not comparison and measurement.” – Gerald Jampolsky
When you are engaging in destructive comparison, you may need some radical self-attention and love.
Often, the reason that we compare with others and put ourselves down is because we are not feeling the love and value that we are providing to others and to our own lives.
Comparison that is unfavorable makes you feel constricted, judged and unhappy. You need to reframe and realign yourself to a feeling of expansion and acceptance.
Make a secret signal to yourself that you will catch yourself or others comparing unfavorable against you and have a ritual that affirms self-love and empathy.
Do something special for yourself today.
Make a list of 5 things that make you unique and why you deeply appreciate yourself.
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” -Michelangelo
Now over to you! Please let me know in the comments below if this post resonated with you. Which idea is your favorite one and why? How do you deal with comparison in your life?
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