Something I’ve allowed to affect my life more than I’d like, is comparison. At times I’ve found myself so preoccupied in someone else’s life that I forget to live my own. I’ve gotten a lot better at this over the last few years, and I want to share a few things to practice to have a better relationship with comparison.
First, don’t judge or think negatively about yourself if you catch yourself playing the comparison game. It is a natural behavior embedded in our subconscious psychology. As social creatures we need to understand the dynamic of where we fit relative to others, this is the entire pursuit of the ego, and it’s necessary. Comparison is okay, but being so negatively affected by it is not. So that must be the focus - To improve our comparative tendencies.
Knowing that comparison is going to happen either way, our task is to create a healthy relationship with it. You can easily do that by being intentional about how comparison is serving you. When you approach comparison from the lens of curiosity instead of judgment, you can learn a lot about yourself. You can become aware of the people, environments, and circumstances that cause you to feel insecure. You can begin to note what needs of yours need attention. You can discover that safely by being curious about the root of your motivation to compare.
Then also, to contextualize comparison, you need to realize that your perspective is limited. Any conclusions you try to draw from comparing yourselves from others, they’re going to be under informed because you simply can never know everything about anything.
This is most clear when you compare your performance to someone else’s. Let’s say you and a colleague give a presentation. You evaluate your performance one way because you know every detail that was going on in your head, the things you didn’t touch on that you meant to, etc. … Whereas with your colleague you can only judge their performance based on what they said and did. But trust me, they are in their own head as well and noticed all of the little imperfections and slips in their performance too.
At the end of the day, comparison can be harnessed into a great tool. You can see the example of others and let it inspire you. You can uncover things about yourself that you didn’t realize were true and get to work on healing or growing. And you can flex your empathy and perspective muscles for yourself and others, knowing that there’s more than meets the eye in just about everything. So don’t reject comparison in your life, use it in a healthy way to serve you and your best self.
I don’t want to just tell you about this, I want to help you with it. If you feel like you often compare yourself to others, I've put together a 3 step process that you can use the next time you have comparative thoughts. It takes only 15 minutes and will help you turn any comparison into a superpower.