Should you compare yourself to others?

Before I say anything else, the answer is NO. You can stop reading right now, or you can continue reading and find out why this is my answer.

I can almost hear you think:

“Yeah, yeah. Easier said than done.”

And I agree. Everyone I know, everyone you know, myself included, is or has been guilty of comparing themselves to others. They might be doing it right now, anytime they talk to or see someone or they might just do it from time to time. The truth is; there really is no getting away from it. Well, there is, but for most of us it involves erasing Instagram and Facebook from our phones and moving into a Tibetan monastery.

It’s as though we were programmed to compare ourselves to everyone that is not us. Of course, I could start listing all the factors that cause us to do this, but I am sure most of us are aware of them and I don’t really want to go on a rant here.

For many of us it becomes an unconscious process that affects us consciously as most of the time it leaves us feeling sad, angry or jealous. Sadly, these feelings can also cause us to form an extremely inaccurate view of ourselves, which, for obvious reasons, is something we should all avoid doing.

I don’t know if this was the case for you, but ever since I can remember, I have been told by my teachers and parents to compare myself to others. They told me I had to realise how lucky I was with what I had, by looking at what others didn’t have so that I would become more appreciative. Yet, I’m not too sure this ever really worked. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for all the good in my life, but that’s not because anyone told me to compare my ‘advantages’ to the ‘misery’ of others. Most of the time we only belief in our own judgement. The one we’ve formed as a result of endless questioning of ourselves and our own comparisons to others.

When person X tells me:

“Don’t you realise how grateful you should be with your *insert skill or feature*, look at my *insert skill or feature*”

That doesn’t really leave me feeling happy or grateful. Why would person X’s, let’s say, ‘bad skin’ make me feel better about my own ‘good skin’? In the end, whatever you think doesn’t really change anything to the judgement that I have formed way before you told me that, does it? I don’t know about you, but I only tend to believe the feeling I get when I am the one doing the comparing; whether it be sad, jealous, insecure, happy or grateful.

This is also where the contradiction lies. When people give us compliments, we don’t really take them seriously. Yet, when people criticise us… we do. The reason behind this is because we most-probably have already doubted every aspect of our body, personality, lifestyle or intellect, which means that, when someone criticises us, we suddenly find them a lot easier to believe.

Ideally, it should be the other way around, meaning that we should actually spend our time appreciating every single bit of ourselves, so we can start believing people when they give us compliments and call them crazy when they criticise us. Of course, without becoming overconfident and conceited.

This brings me to my final point; the way in which most of us compare ourselves to others; by looking at their ‘good features’ and our own ‘bad features’. This is what we should all stop doing right this second.

I wish I could have warned myself a couple of years ago that I was going to start doing this. I know exactly when the shift from being and ‘oh-so-confident’ kid that never really cared about what she sounded or looked like to my current self took place. Well, maybe to the ‘self’ from a while ago, when I started realizing all of this and living by it.

This is what I would have told myself;

“Stop jumping up and down on your trampoline for a second and listen up. Whatever happens, whomever you meet or wherever you go, remember that there really is no point comparing your looks, interests, intellect or passions to those of others. Think about it; how often does seeing how much progress and then comparing it to your own or seeing how much success someone has and then comparing it to your own ever brought you intense joy? I’m not talking about the ‘oh, I am so happy for my best friend kind of joy’. Yet, has anything ever given you more joy than seeing how much progress you have made? Be it physically or most-importantly mentally, spiritually or intellectually?”

I don’t think I would have understood a word from what I just wrote, but I’m hoping that, if you read this right now and find yourself constantly comparing to others to the point where it leaves you feeling unhappy and insecure most of the time, you’ll consider my little speech and try to let go of this nasty habit.

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