Comparing ourselves to others is something that everyone has done. We all grew up being compared to each other in school, in sports and at home. Statistics were tracked about grades, sports achievements and you may have felt like your parents were keeping track of what you had done vs your siblings. Fast forward to becoming an adult and the comparison continues. People are rated in companies on their performance and potential. Employees are rated in comparison to their peers? How is the company doing in comparison to the competition? Do they drive a nice car or have a nice house? There are a million things to compare against and in the end what is it doing for us?
Time is too short to spend time focused on comparison. Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I found this quote in an article by Joshua Becker called A Helpful Guide to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. He does a great job of highlighting the pitfalls of comparison and ideas on how to stop doing it.
Some of the key highlights about comparison for me were:
- We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
- You can control one life—yours. But when we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
- Your gifts and talents and successes and contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
There are many more in the article, but it made me stop and think about the time wasted on comparison. For the most part, it tends to make us feel like we aren’t good enough, not at the right level of success yet and when we measure ourselves against everyone else, we are behind. Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t give in to the comparison and let others make you feel bad about yourself.
Try some of the suggestions from the article instead:
- Become intimately aware of your own successes.
Whether you are a writer, musician, doctor, landscaper, mother, or student, you have a unique perspective backed by unique experiences and unique gifts. You have the capacity to love, serve, and contribute. You have everything you need to accomplish good in your little section of the world. With that opportunity squarely in front of you, become intimately aware of your past successes. And find motivation in them to pursue more.
- Remind yourself nobody is perfect.
While focusing on the negatives is rarely as helpful as focusing on the positives, there is important space to be found remembering that nobody is perfect and nobody is living a painless life. Triumph requires an obstacle to be overcome. And everybody is suffering through their own, whether you are close enough to know it or not.
- If you need to compare, compare with yourself.
We ought to strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves—not only for our own selves, but for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Commit to growing a little bit each day. And learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.
You have the decision to make in how you view comparison. You can only control the things that you do every day. If you want to change something about yourself, then do it. Just don’t do it for someone else, do it for yourself. Spend the time that you have focusing on yourself, the great things that you are doing and be grateful for what you have in your life right now.
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