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Comparing Yourself To Others

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If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”.

Whatever else you do or forbear, impose upon yourself the task of happiness; and now and then abandon yourself to the joy of laughter.

  • (both poems culled from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata and Whatever Else you do poems, 1952)

If we are honest with ourselves, one of the issues we contend with regularly is the tendency to compare ourselves to others. It is a stealthy act we engage in it without realising it. Also, because we don’t have the full picture of what’s going on in other people’s lives, we make assumptions and our perceptions of people (and the things they engage in) cloud our reasoning and make us feel we have it worse than them, or that they have it better than us or that we have it better than them, whatever the case is. Remember that often, things are not always as they seem and even if you think they are, constantly measuring yourself against other people’s accomplishments will never give you a well-balanced outlook on life. In today’s post, I’m sharing 4 ways I personally address my ‘Comparison Appetite’.

  1. Knowing what is important to me. Someone else’s pursuit may be driven by a need for fame/power, while yours may be driven by a need for service/recognition/money- none of these motives are bad but what is different is our motivators. Person A’s focus might be towards the corporate boardrooms while B’s focus might be for the homeless children in the slums. The things that drive us dictate our pursuits. Is what you are doing central to your values and life goals? What makes you unique? What are your sights set on in your life? As much as you can, seek to understand your own life’s path. When you know, this is where you focus your energies on. As you pursue your life’s intent, it gets harder to feed the comparison appetite.
  2. Through effective communication and celebrating others’ achievements. How often do we compare ourselves to random strangers, celebrities or super stars? In my case, rarely. Generally, we tend to compare ourselves to people we know and people we are familiar with. I also think that admiration for someone if not curbed, can spiral into comparison and this is where effective communication helps. If I admire someone for something they’ve achieved or are doing, I let them know. I don’t believe in admiring from afar, I share my admiration of people with them. Why? Because this automatically sets the tone and foundation for my relationships with individuals, making me align my thoughts and attitude towards them, to make me more receptive to learning from them and not comparing myself to them.
  3. I remind myself that I am on my path so I should stay busy with what is intrinsically important to me. Figure out what resonates with you and play to your strengths. When you know what you are good at, you are more confident and better placed to inspire others. When you know what you are good at, you excel! Your strength may be what people admire about you, and what they perceive as their own shortcoming/weakness might be what you admire about them. People are good at different things, no individual knows it all and you can’t be good at everything. So my interpretation of this is that as long as I keep comparing my own weakness to someone else’s strength or vice versa, the comparison scale will always be tilted in no one’s favour.
  4. I tell myself to remember that people are in different stages of their lives. Good things will always happen to everyone. Understand and remind yourself that everyone has goals and we all work hard to achieve these goals. When you achieve a goal, you are happy, you know you worked hard. When someone else achieves theirs, they will be happy. Be happy for them too, it also took them some hard work. Our dreams come true at different phases and stages so at the end of the day, think about it, comparison is baseless. We are on different journeys. If you are moving forward in the pursuit of your personal goals, growing year to year (even with intangible things that can be measured), then you know you have no reason for constant comparisons.

These simple approaches keep helping me to stop myself in the tracks when I feel compelled to compare myself to others. It really takes a mind shift to effect these but honestly, they work. Hopefully they help you too.

What methods/approaches do you adopt to stop yourself from doing comparing yourself to others?

PS: I love all Max Ehrmann’s poems but Desiderata remains my favourite. Google all his poems, so good…

Image Source: Pixabay

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