- Your competition is with yourself
Courtesy: Raj, trainers forum
Comparing ourselves with others creates a fake sense of being, and curbs our uniqueness and individuality. There are numerous other reasons why a constant comparison with others is a bad idea.
Comparison is the thief of joy" Theodore Roosevelt
Comparing ourselves with others comes naturally to a lot of us. It is a trait that we develop early on in our lives. Remember how our teachers used to portray the head boy/girl as the role model for all of us. We were expected to be like them. Even at home, comparisons with siblings were inevitable. The burden of expectations always bordered upon how you fared with the best performer of the team. And in case, you were the best performer, the comparison with others only created an impression of strength and superiority.
The fact that many of us indulge in comparing our life, social status, appearance, wealth, etc., with others, is symptomatic of a deep-rooted desire to be accepted by others. When we put ourselves against others, we measure our strengths and weaknesses with them. The reason comparisons don't work out is because no two people are similar. While one might be good at making money, another might be good at making friends. The point we are trying to drive home here, is that comparison between two individuals, who may appear to be equal due to the roles they play in their family or society, only creates the feeling of frustration, self-pity, low self-worth, and envy. There are other reasons why comparison with others should be avoided at all costs.
Why Comparing Ourselves with Others is Futile
Comparison creates dependency on others.
When we indulge in comparison, the way we think about ourselves becomes dependent upon how we perceive others around us. If we are doing better than A, we get an emotional boost, but as soon as we know about B's affluence, we pity ourselves for not being able to achieve much in life. Comparisons with others only create a fake sense of being, and we find ourselves trying to keep up with others at all costs.
Comparison pushes us to be 'at par' with others.
Comparing ourselves with others takes away our individuality. It forces us to do things that we ideally don't want to do.
When we engage in the game of comparison, it becomes difficult for us to think pragmatically. We are blinded by the expectations of being 'at par' with our competitors. The urge of having the same set of luxuries that others can afford, engulfs us, curbing our real qualities. We endlessly compare ourselves to our neighbors and relatives, and base our decisions on gaining a positive perception from them.
Comparison causes envy and jealousy.
Comparison is one of the major reasons for creating envy and jealousy among people. For example, it often happens that the moment we come to know that a peer or a relative has bought a new car, a feeling of envy masked by condescension overpowers us. Instead of being happy for them, we criticize their decision, and make up our mind that they have given in to imprudence, and are doomed to fail. We start making assumptions about how could they possibly afford it, convincing ourselves at the same time that they will soon be under debts. In reality, the perception that the friend will now get more respect and approval from others, pesters us from inside and creates a sense of being less-worthy from him. We constantly battle against ourselves, and look for ways to beat him in this perceived competition.
Comparison limits our potential.
When we compare ourselves with others, we subconsciously place limits on what we can possibly achieve. It results in the creation of a mental block, which prevents us from giving our 100%. For example, if X holds the university record of running a mile in 4 minutes, Y's entire focus will be on doing it under 4 minutes. By comparing himself with X, Y places a limitation on himself. If Y just competes against himself, and develops his skills over a period of time, he will be able to give his best shot, without constantly focusing on X's record. The important thing to remember is that we shouldn't base our targets on what others are able to achieve. We don't know their strengths and weaknesses thoroughly, but we do know ours, so it is prudent to make the best use of that.
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The first thing to do to stay away from the mire of comparisons is to love yourself for who you are. You may think that you are not perfect, but that is what makes us humans different from each other. As Oscar Wilde famously put it, "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." Accepting yourself with all your flaws is pertinent if you really want to experience inner peace and calmness. Being content with what you have doesn't mean that you stay in a cocoon, and shy away from taking any steps to improve your skills. What it means is that you set realistic targets for yourself, and work towards achieving them.
Realize that constant comparison is a bad habit.
The problem with constant comparison is that it is ingrained in us from a pretty young age, and therefore, we indulge in comparisons subconsciously. Ask a group of people whether they compare themselves to others, you will not get too many affirmations. When we do something far too often, without knowing its repercussions, we fail to see it as a vice. Therefore, to extricate ourselves from the web of unnecessary comparisons, we need to be aware of what we are doing. Any time you feel that you are trying to measure up to somebody, engage in self-talk, and convince yourself that this whole idea can be noxious for you. Constantly look out for such behavior, and dissociate your mind from such feelings. Over a period of time, you will see that the urge to always compare yourself with others has gone down.
Appreciate the efforts of your peers.
Try to appreciate the people you always compare yourself with. Criticizing them behind their backs may make you feel good for some time, but if you look at it pragmatically, you end up achieving nothing out of it. Instead, you can bring about a positive change in your attitude by commending the virtues of your friends, colleagues, and relatives.
Many of us view life as a competition, where you always have to fight to survive, but we should keep in mind that life is also a journey of finding our inner-self, and discovering the true potential that is inherently present in all of us. Once we focus on our individual journey, all comparisons with others cease to exist.
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