Comparing things has a purpose, a definite usefulness in our lives. Like anything, however, it can be used in a helpful way or in a destructive one. If we’re talking about comparing prices, or quality of an item when making a purchase, that’s helpful. When we start comparing our progress, growth and success to others, it can leave us with a complex that doesn’t serve us in any way, shape or form.
I didn’t grow up with siblings, but that didn’t mean I was able to escape being compared to others. I was compared to cousins and schoolmates who were able to accomplish things that I couldn’t (or simply chose not to because I had no interest). Regardless of what the comparison was about, I always wondered why I wasn’t good enough just being me. Why did I need to be like someone else? Wasn’t I special enough?
Of course, there were times when I was on the winning side of the comparison game. When I would get the highest mark on a test or project, I felt good, because I felt that those marks meant I was “better than” my classmates. For a long time the need to outdo others meant more than the task itself. When I was an employee, it was often about out-performing my colleagues. I used to thrive on praise, and anytime someone was being compared to me and I was the “ideal to strive for”, my ego ate it up – BIGTIME!
Even now, when I don’t feel as insecure and feel the need to be “better than” anyone else, I sometimes still get caught up in the comparison game. Instead of using it to make me feel “less than” or inadequate, I now use it for inspiration. I’m not coming from a place of envy, wondering why they have been able to achieve something that I haven’t yet, but instead I look at it as motivation. They’ve done it, it is possible, and what I can learn from their success are the thoughts that go through my mind.
I realize now that I’m not working to be better than anyone else. I’m just working on being better than I was the day before. It’s about really taking the time to acknowledge the growth and development that I have achieved and continuously looking for ways to improve. Comparing ourselves to others in a way that disempowers us is unproductive. The reality is that unless you know the people you’re comparing yourself to personally, you have no idea what it took for them to achieve their success. Even when we have a personal connection with someone, we don’t always know the full story unless they choose to share it with you.
If comparing yourself to others is motivating and inspiring you, then by all means, keep doing it. If comparing yourself to others is making you feel insignificant and unworthy of the success that the others are achieving, then it’s time to stop doing it! Start to focus on how much you’re improving and growing every day. Your journey and experiences are unique to you, so your path to success will be yours to establish. You don’t have to be better than anyone else; you just need to continue to be the best you that you can be. ♥