I will admit it – I have a habit of comparing myself to others. Some of the time it’s against people that are more successful than me, and other times it’s with people less successful than me. But all of the time it makes me feel like shit – like shit for judging them and myself, or for not being as successful as I want to be. I want to be better, I want to be more, I aspire to be as good as my idols. I don’t want to have the same issues as the other guy, I don’t want to be an amateur…
…I want to be something more than I am, but I’m not – so I compare.
This is the truth.
I’ll think to myself: “Oh I’m more advanced than that guy fucking up over there” in order to feel better about myself because I’m still fucking up or not at the “more advanced level” that I want to be. Or I’ll think to myself: “I’m just as good as that guy who has a million likes, or 400,000 followers, or superstar clients, or a new supermodel girlfriend every month, or is teaching a large audience, etc.” because I don’t have that for myself, but I feel as if I should.
If I didn’t think I should be there myself, I wouldn’t be comparing, right?
Think about it.
Do you compare yourself everyday to the Minister of Sumplase, Nobodyland? No. Why? Because you don’t care to be where he is or have what he has. If you’re not a drummer, you’ll probably never compare yourself to Rick Allen, but if you are, you’d probably do lots of comparing since the guy is a rockstar drummer with only one arm. If you’re not into yoga, you’d never get upset at some other yogi advancing faster than you (even though “you’re more spiritual and eat salads full of kale and spirulina”).
So why do we do this?
Main Reason 1: We’re Not Really Happy
The comparisons we have between ourselves and others comes from a lack. A lack of satisfaction, fulfillment, contentment, and acceptance. We compare when we’re not truly happy. Have you ever felt so blissful that you felt the intense urge to pay attention to somebody who was more or less happy? No. You were too busy in a state of ecstasy to even notice, let alone begin analyzing your comparisons.
If you’re comparing one gift to the other, your current socks with a pair of new ones, the curves of the girl you’re on a date with to your ex-girlfriend’s, the size of your arms with the guy-at-the-gym’s, your gold card with somebody’s black card, or even your “size” to another’s – it’s a safe bet there’s some discontent or insecurity at the root of it.
This doesn’t mean I’m saying all comparing is bad. Not at all. We have a natural, ingrained tendency to compare – our brains are wired that way for survival – but when it’s compulsive and making you (or the other person) miserable, there’s something more to it that evolutionary, biological wiring.
Main Reason 2: Success Is Relative
Everyone’s definition of success is different, and everyone is working on different things at different times. Sure, somebody may be further down a path, more experienced, getting better results, and even have quantifiable evidence to show they are more successful – but what does that even prove?
Perhaps for me, my spiritual practice is well-developed and I’m a lot further on that road than a CEO’s… but then again, who or how am I to make an accurate judgement? Let’s just say he’s a millionaire CEO, so that would mean he’s more successful in that area than myself. Perhaps another person is an Olympic gold medalist, further down the athletic route than either of us. But does that athlete want to be a CEO? Does the CEO desire to be spiritual? Do I desire to be an Olympian?
The point here is that when you begin comparing yourself to others, you’re not even doing a direct comparison! Their journey is different. Their strengths and weakness are different. They have different resources. Their belief systems and emotional intelligence is different. They have different desires and priorities. Their own measuring stick may have a radically different scale than yours, where you find success in increments of 10, they may own find it in increments of 1000.
And not only that, the ego is insane in thinking it can be an accurate judge. You really have no idea. No idea at all.
So just stop. Stop comparing yourself to them, to make yourself feel better or worse, right now.
It takes all the pressure off of where you “should be” in relation to others. Now, there’s nothing wrong in admiring another and being inspired by their achievements to fuel your own desires. That’s empowering. Nay, it’s the constant judgement that’s the problem. And where does this come from? Unhappiness. You’re not happy with yourself so you begin projecting that upon other people or beating yourself up.
How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others:
- Accept yourself and where you are in life
- Accept that there’s nowhere (level, position, income, etc) you need, should, or ought to be at – so let go of the false-obligation
- Realize that our culture is based on competition and unhappiness to fuel consumerism
- Discover what’s at the root of your discontent and become happy with who you are now
- Redefine your definition of “success” to something that feels right to you, not society, your parents, or religion
- Stop reading gossip magazines, new feeds, status updates, Instagrams, etc. if they’re fueling narcissistic, egoic, envious, or depressive thoughts (hint: they are)
- At the very least, begin to convert old jealousy, insecurity, or bitterness fueled comparisons to “it’s possible for me too” or healthy motivational comparisons
- Get into thought patterns and long moments of gratitude and appreciation
It’s impractical to never ever compare anybody again – our brains are comparing machines. However, we can indeed change much of the negative and draining charges around it by addressing the root causes of our compulsive need to compare, seek validation, and find happiness in all the wrong places.
It’s hard to find somebody who is genuinely happy and in love with their life who is constantly comparing the worst of themselves to the best of others. Instead, they’re comparing where they are now with where they were and where they want to be, and using that as a means for gratitude and motivation.
Now that’s a good comparison to make… but only if you’re happy, first.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” –Steve Furtick
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