Self-comparison creates an unruly mess in the minds of many people. Have you ever looked at someone's accomplishments or possessions and wished you had what they have?
This can be either characteristics or material things. Either way, your envy or your admiration for what they have in their lives will cause you to become blind to your own wealth and trigger an immediate depreciation for what you do have. Almost entirely writing off what you have worked your whole life for.
This self-comparison runs rampant in the personal development world, and I've witnessed it amongst a lot of my peers and even some mentors. They'll uncover some revelation and deep insight about their behaviour, clear out any emotional perceptions around the pattern and free themselves of any of the mindset blocks that hold them back. Then they move on, parading all of their achievements and successes in their lives, heralding their accomplishments like badges of honour.
To me, and other insightful people, what's taking place is obvious. Once they overcome their obstacles, they find themselves having no excuse to go and do what they want and experience moments of total self-belief. Then these people compare their lives with the life of someone they look up to and admire. Once they start this self-comparison, they find themselves feeling small about how little they've achieved in comparison and compensate this feeling by parading their accomplishments and over-exaggerating what they've done in their lives.
Keeping up? I know it's a lot, stay with me.
They're caught in an elusive and vicious cycle which they are unconscious to. That is, they are overcompensating for how their lives look in comparison to someone they look up to.
My question to you — is that being authentic?
They're not owning what they see in their idol, mentor, teacher, leader. They're suppressing their own inner genius in comparison to this person. That's what comparison is.
Here's what the wise Ralph Waldo Emerson says in his essay on Self-Reliance published in 1841...
"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self Reliance 1841
What does this mean?
It means the rewards and wealth you reap from your life comes from making the most of what's given to you in your character, your will and your self-belief. It has nothing to do with what everyone else is doing on social media and the news.
What Emerson is also saying is that, for you to be able to go and get whatever you want in your life, you first have to accept what you have. Appreciate what you have and who you are, including the good and bad before you go seeking to change anything. It'll make a world of difference to the life you create.
Your envy, jealousy and admiration are your ignorance to the fact that those people are doing one of two things;
- They're either overcompensating and self-promoting to make themselves feel better about their unfulfilled life.
- They're truly living a life congruent with themselves irrespective of what other's think of them. They're ignorant to the praise and criticism they receive.
In my view, social media has given the everyday person the ability to promote a life that isn't whole and complete, which fuels this self-destructive behaviour. Did social media cause this behaviour? No. It just amplified the behaviour of society which had existed long before. Hence the idiom "Keeping up with the Jones's." Self-comparison has lasted throughout cultures of all kinds.
Why would you receive more when you're not grateful for what you already have?
The reason I say it's self-destructive is that by placing other people on a pedestal, you're subconsciously wanting to destroy what you have. You want to shut it down, throw it away or simply pretend you don't have what you have out of shame. This will ensure you never get what they have — it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
These people you compare yourself with are your reflection. They're showing you a part of yourself that you've been disowning. That changes today.
Steps To End The Self-Comparison
Look through your life like you're watching a movie. Scan through all of the different periods from childhood through to now. Find all the times you've done what you admire in others and observe the people who witnessed you owning that. Keep doing that until you see yourself doing the same thing to the same quality.
Think of a balancing scale with a bar of gold on one side and grains of sand on the other. It will take many grains of sand — instances of you owning that trait — but it will eventually weigh the same as the gold. Go and own whatever it is you envy or admire in these people and wake up to the presence of it in your own life.
Put yourself in more situations where you utilise and express your unique genius. By doing so, your self-worth will begin to raise, and you will be naturally less focussed on what others are doing. Honour your genius on a more consistent basis, and you won't feel your self-comparison present itself as much.
One Final Thought
Today's the day you stop comparing yourself to others and start honouring what you have to offer. That's what people ultimately want from you.
Think about it...
Why would you be here if you were meant to be a carbon copy of someone else? You weren't, you're here to be you. So start honouring who that is.