I’ve struggled with it most of my life. Typically, I blame it on being the middle child and coming from a broken home. But if I was being truly honest, more likely, it is simply a character flaw hidden somewhere deep in my heart.
I’ve lived most of my life comparing myself to others. At first, it was school and beauty. But as I got older, I began comparing other metrics: job title, income level, house size, and worldly successes. I have discovered there is an infinite number of categories upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to. Once we begin down that road, we never find an end.
The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. Certainly, I’m not alone in my experience. But it is a decision that only steals joy from our lives. And it is a habit with numerous shortcomings:
· Comparisons are always unfair
We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
· Comparisons rob us of precious time
We each get 86,400 seconds each day. And using even one to compare yourself or your accomplishments to another is one second too many.
· You have nothing to gain, but much to lose
For example, your pride, your dignity, your drive, and your passion.
· You are too unique to compare fairly
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.
· Comparison puts focus on the wrong person
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.
· Take note of the foolish (and harmful) nature of comparison
Take a good look at the list above. Take notice of comparison’s harmful effects in your life. And find priority to intentionally remove it from the inside-out.
Indeed, the negative effects of comparisons are wide and far-reaching. Likely, you have experienced (or are experiencing)many of them first-hand in your life as well.
How then, might we break free from this habit of comparison? Consider, embrace, and proceed forward with the following steps.
Photo: Modi Kuti
1. 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.
2. Pursue the greater things in life
Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else and remove yourself entirely from society’s definition of success.
Photo: Positive Affirmations
3. Compete less. Appreciate more
There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out. The first and most important step in overcoming the habit of competition is to routinely appreciate and compliment the contribution of others.
4. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude
Gratitude always forces us to recognize the good things we already have in our world.
5. Remind yourself nobody is perfect
While focusing on the negatives is rarely as helpful as focusing on the positives, there is an 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.
With so many negative effects inherent in comparison, it is a shame we ever take part in it. But the struggle is real for most of us. Fortunately, it does not need to be. And the freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort.
Photo: We Heart It
Ready. Set. Boss. Our daily email is pouring out inspiration with the latest #BlackGirlBossUp moments, tips on hair, beauty and lifestyle to get you on track to a better you! Sign up today.