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.”
- The Importance Of Staying Authentic And Knowing Oneself.
Mina de la Cruz . Boy Blue  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.
Svetlana 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.”
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…..
“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.”
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.
Three 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.
“A star does not need to outshine its neighbour, it only needs to shine.”
R. A. Delmonico
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”Zen Shin
‘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.
“Comparison is a slippery slope to jealousy.”Danielle LaPorte
“Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.”
François Duc de La Rochefoucauld.
“Because they feel unhappy, men cannot bear the sight of someone they think is happy.”
2. It Is Crucial To Value Your Differences.
“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
J Louis. Pillars Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“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”
The 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.
“Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.”Alexander Smith
“Recognize yourself in he and she who are not like you and me.”Carlos Fuentes
“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.
Gülin Hayat Topdemir – Untitled . 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.”
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.”
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.
Boris 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.”
‘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
June Stratton. Wisteria  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.”
© Linda Berman.