One of the ways I used to make myself miserable was by comparing myself to everyone around me. I spent my youth trying to be the smartest, wittiest, most talented person in the room…which probably made me insufferable to my peers. Lucky for my friends and family, I’ve removed this quality from my rolodex of ideal traits. This week I’m sharing the flaws in our competitive comparison culture and how I determine my self-worth without the input of others.
Comparison Leeches on Our Relationships
Comparison is like a leech. It feeds off of our fears of not being enough and encourages us to judge and rank those around us. Comparison tells us that our worth is based off of the metrics we set while looking at others. It allows us to place ourselves as the center of a universe where everyone around us is ranked in a hierarchy. This is toxic, inaccurate and prevents us from viewing ourselves clearly.
Once we start it’s hard to stop. When we are in deep with comparison, we build our communities around our perceived value and hold everyone in our lives to this same scale. In reality this does not serve us. Not only is it a disservice to ourselves and our self-esteem but it’s also unfair to everyone in our life that we are holding to standards that they don’t even know about.
Comparison makes us narcissistic – we begin to believe that we are the judge and that we will never be good enough unless we are better than everyone else. To have a healthy relationship with ourselves and others we have to let it go.
Using Comparison to Determine Self- Worth
Back when comparison still had a grasp on me I would let it determine my self-worth. If I felt like shit about myself I would go look for someone else to compare myself to in an attempt to feel better. If someone was having an easier time than me I would come up with ways that I was still better than them. In every instance where I could have been looking at myself and how I could grow I was looking at others trying to bring them (or myself) down.
Doing this doesn’t make you a monster – I think we all do this to an extent. We try to build our self-esteem off of the success of others because the only examples we see in our lives come from external sources. It’s also important to note that being inspired by someone is very different emotionally than comparing yourself to someone. For me that concept was a game changer. Once I became aware of this I was able to stop, evaluate what I wanted and build my self-esteem from my own scale of self-worth.
Self-Worth in a Silo
Untangling from the comparison mentality is a lifelong journey. The first step was to become aware of when I was practicing comparison instead of self-reflection. The second step was to start actually working on self-reflection. To do this I started journaling. I began asking myself what I wanted, what I thought, what I liked and didn’t like about myself. What were the markers of success for me and what did I value most in a person. Once I was able to see who I wanted to be it made cutting back on comparison a bit easier. I quickly realized that the people I was comparing myself to are on very different life paths than I am. Through this I learned that I didn’t even want the things they had and I was able to figure out what I wanted instead.
I hope this motivates you to look at the ways you are using comparison in your life. Comparison is truly the thief of joy – I am happier without it dominating my mental space.
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