The Pitfalls of Self-Comparison
Do you base your happiness on how you stack up against a neighbor, a coworker, a sibling, a friend, or a celebrity? It is easy to think that if you had her body, her house, her knowledge, her husband, her job, her beauty, her intelligence, her personality or her money, that you’d be happy. But, that kind of thinking is a trap! When we compare ourselves with others, we presuppose that there is one right way to “be.” There isn’t. Everyone has great qualities. Everyone has great worth. And, everyone is different.
Another pitfall of this kind of thinking is that it makes comparing self with others a yardstick for self-esteem. If all of our worth is focused outside us, our self-esteem will rise and fall as external circumstances change. If we struggle with illness or aging and someone younger, richer, prettier, or smarter moves in next door, suddenly we feel worthless. And, that’s an unhappy way to live.
The truth is that there will always be someone who is better than we are in almost every area of life, just as there will always be someone who isn’t up to our level. So, we can’t compare ourselves with others without becoming either arrogant or insecure. You started life with a personalized package of gifts and challenges. No one else has lived your life, so, no one else can be compared with you—and visa versa.
If you occasionally compare yourself to others, it can be a good thing. As long as you don’t connect such comparisons with self-worth, this can inspire you to reach further and achieve more. This type of positive self-comparison motivates and drives your ambition. However, when self-comparison becomes frequent, and even obsessive, it can destroy your peace of mind.
Four Steps to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The good news is that stopping the destructive side of the comparison game is not hard. And, the more often you practice the following steps, the easier it gets.
Step 1: Become Aware of Self-Comparison
This is an important step. As I said earlier some self-comparisons can be good, but most of the time they are not.
Step 2: Isolate Good Comparisons from Bad
Exchange envy for admiration.
Step 3: Celebrate Your Uniqueness
Your value as a woman has little to do with what you look like or what you possess. When you compare yourself to someone else, you are denying your own wonderful gifts and talents. Everyone has worth, but the source of that worth is as different as each individual.
Step 4: Compare Yourself to Yourself
I am always striving to do something better than I did before. I take the lessons learned and combine them with qualities I admire in others and strive for a new personal best. I use my past success and failures as my yardstick, and don’t berate myself. I am in competition with myself, and no one else.
Remember to compare yourself with yourself first. And, when you self-compare yourself with others, start by admiring their achievements and strengths. Think in terms of awe, inspiration, motivation, and respect. Feelings like jealousy, hatred, resentfulness, rivalry, and spite feed negativity and depression. Let go of such inner darkness and you will have room to embrace the light!