Do You keep Comparing Yourself To Others? Here are 3 Things you Should Know. By Dr Linda Berman.

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Lawrence Alma-Tadema. “Comparison.”1892 Wikimedia Commons.

“Throughout life, from childhood, from school until we die, we are taught to compare ourselves with another; yet when I compare myself with another I am destroying myself.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti
Do you tend to compare yourself with other people?
 
It is natural to compare ourselves sometimes. We all do it, I am sure. However, doing so repeatedly can make us dissatisfied and unhappy with ourselves.
 
If you struggle with this issue, here are three points to consider which may be of help:
  1. The Importance Of Staying Authentic And Knowing Oneself.

6769838983_a68792f816_oMina de la Cruz . Boy Blue [2010] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”
 
Neil Gaiman

If we are able to value who we are and develop self-respect, then we will have no need to torment ourselves with distressing comparisons to others.

“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.”

Marquis de Condorcet

Through learning to appreciate our own unique and authentic self, we are less likely to feel lacking compared to those around us.

We cannot, however, be authentic unless we know who we are. Self-knowledge is crucial if we are to stay true to ourselves.

imageSvetlana reflects herself in the mirror (painting by Karl Briullov, 1836)Flickr.

“The best version of ourselves is to be our true selves; perfection is not necessary.”

 Rodolfo Peon

Often, our real self may be hidden under layers of false selves, parts of us that have developed through trying to please others, or attempting to be like our perception of people we have admired.

In time, we may feel out of touch with our own authentic selves and not know who we really are.

Often, the roots of this lie in the past. Perhaps we were compared to our siblings or friends in childhood, and found wanting…..

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Ottilie Roederstein. The Sisters [1900]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
 

“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.”

Iyanla Vanzant

Sometimes, parents may adopt a ‘divide and rule’ approach, which is destructive of sibling relationships and of each child’s self-esteem.

Comparing children to each other, or having a  ‘favourite child,’ will create resentment and rivalry.  The least ‘favourite’ child may develop a lifelong sense of not being adequate compared with  others.

Each child needs to be valued and loved for who they are, for their unique, authentic and special selves.

imageThree Sisters (Triptych – Right part) – (Henri Matisse). Wikioo.

Childhood experiences like this may have a lasting effect on us and it is important that we know ourselves well enough to recognise this.

Perhaps we have never felt ‘as good as’ others and therefore had to put an embargo on our real feelings, hiding who we genuinely were and what we believed.

Eventually, the critical voices of others who compared us negatively can become internalised- they become a part of us – and we play the same messages over and over to ourselves inside our heads.

Now this is no longer an external rebuke, it has been absorbed by us and it has metamorphosed into our own voice telling us that others are better than we are.

Such behaviour patterns and the associated feelings are hard to eliminate.

Therapy may be needed to help with this, so that we might uncover the real person beneath the layers of unfavourable comparison.

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“A star does not need to outshine its neighbour, it only needs to shine.”

R. A. Delmonico

In working on these issues in therapy, the hope is that we can free ourselves from the past and from the distressing messages, and begin to discover our authentic selves.
 
Then we may ‘shine’ and ‘bloom’ as our real and genuine selves, without the urge to compare with others.
 
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“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”
 
Zen Shin
 
When we do feel tempted to compare ourselves, it is important to bear in mind that what we see in others is only what is presented on the surface.
 
It is easy to make assumptions based on superficial impressions. We do not know what they are feeling inside; we can only make a guess.
 
What we do know is that everyone has problems and life is hard, at times, for all of us. That is part of the human condition.
 
‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.’
 
John Watson. (frequently misattributed to Plato.)
 
 
“Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.”
 
Betty Jamie Chung
  • Becoming Aware Of Envy.
We can only compare ourselves with who we were yesterday, and try to develop and grow from that.
 
Otherwise, we will find ourselves constantly envying those around us.
 
“Comparison is a slippery slope to jealousy.”
 
Danielle LaPorte
Feeling inferior to another who is the focus of one’s envy can originate in low self-esteem and feeling insecure in one’s own life.
 
Envy is a painful, miserable and energy-draining emotion and one that can be pervasive and all-consuming.
 

“Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.”

François Duc de La Rochefoucauld.

 
By developing self- awareness, it is possible to move into healthier ways of being.
 
Ask yourself, if you often feel envious, “what am I unhappy and discontented about in my own life?”
 
Try to get in touch with what might be happening unconsciously, if necessary through a course of psychotherapy, exploring where this envy really originated in the past and how it gets played out in the present.
 

“Because they feel unhappy, men cannot bear the sight of someone they think is happy.”

Schopenhauer

2. It Is Crucial To Value Your Differences.

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Cooper & Gorfer – Holding Vanesa, [2017]
 
“Do not compare, do not measure. No other way is like yours. All other ways deceive and tempt you. You must fulfil the way that is in you.” 
 
Carl Jung
Especially on the internet, there is a pressure to conform, to be like others, like film-stars or celebrities. Young people often alter their faces on special apps in order to become ‘acceptable.’
 
Such apps have titles like ‘Reshape face photos editor,’ ‘Fine you: Face Swap,’ ‘Face Changer,’ ‘Reface,’  ‘Perfect 365 ‘ and ‘Facetune.’
 
During teenage years, it is often regarded as ‘not cool’ to dance to a different tune. Young people often feel they need to be tuned in to each other and to images of perfection.
 
This distressing attitude encourages comparison, rejects difference and feeds into people’s self-dissatisfaction.
 
Being an individual is not acceptable- unless you are a trendsetter or an ‘influencer’ – and then everyone will copy you.
 

51278099616_86d2612078_oJ Louis. Pillars [2020]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

 
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Victor Brauner. The Surrealist [1947] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
 
“Where’s your will to be weird?”
 
Jim Morrison

The importance of learning to value our uniqueness, our differences, and even our eccentricities, our ‘weirdness,’ cannot be overstated here.

Comparing ourselves with others is underestimating and denying our own abilities and our individual potential.

It will, inevitably, lead to considerable distress.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” 

Theodore Roosevelt

imageThe Mexican Musicians .Raoul Dufy. Wikioo

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears however measured or far away.” 
 
Henry David Thoreau
  • Seeing The Self In The Other.
However, the fact we are different from others does not mean that there are not also similarities between us.
 
It is important to be aware of these, so that we can develop empathy for others, recognising and valuing both their differences and their similarities.
 
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Two Roma Women. 1921.Augustus John. Wikioo.
 
“Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.”
 
Alexander Smith
 
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Group of Figures. Anne Sassoon. Wikioo.
 
“Recognize yourself in he and she who are not like you and me.”
 
Carlos Fuentes
 
If we are able to recognise aspects of ourselves in other people, to see their vulnerabilities, their humanity and their self-doubting, we will be less likely to want to compare ourselves unfavourably.
 
We will know that they may be in pain. We will be able to bear in mind that everyone has their conflicts and is in some way battling with the stresses of life.
 
That is a part of the human condition, inevitable for us all.
 
“Many people covet other people’s lives without knowing what goes on inside those people’s minds.”
 
Lidia Longorio
 

3. The Importance of Self-Confidence.

24735689019_924f3abd9a_oGülin Hayat Topdemir – Untitled [2006]. Oil On Canvas. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.”

Shannon L. Alder

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

If you perceive that someone has achieved more than you, then it is important not to let that affect your confidence. There can be more than one person who does well. It does not have to be either them or you.

The truth is, some people may be more attractive, intelligent or have risen higher in their career than you.

Let that be an encouragement and inspiration for you to move forward in your own way, at your own pace. 

It is also important to remember that you do not have to aim for the ‘top,’ but perhaps try only for the next step.

“Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.”

Bernard Meltzer

Comparison does not always have to be a bad thing. It can be motivating, if you admire another who has done well.

One can emulate, learn, be inspired by, another’s achievement.

21757615053_e571f56c67_oBoris Grigoriev – Les Enfants [1922-23]

“If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Max Ehrmann

 ‘Greater’ and ‘lesser’ are perhaps not the best terms to us in this quote, and I am uncertain what they mean. But there is a truth in the sentiment that it is futile to compare ourselves with others.

  • The Importance of Self-Care.

Appreciating and valuing what you have, both inside and outside, and who you are, is crucial.

Valuing what you can do, rather than focussing on others’ talents you may not have, is an important part of self-care.

Self-care also means speaking gently to yourself and not having an inner critical voice.

It means loving ourselves, and ensuring that we are being the sort of person whom we can love; someone who is kind to themselves and others.

“If one is to love oneself one must behave in ways that one can admire.”

Irvin D. Yalom

34999478351_4e356af666_oJune Stratton. Wisteria [2016] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

 Friedrich Nietzsche

© Linda Berman.

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