Comparing ourselves to others can easily become a common practice that most of us fall into. I have heard this referred to as comparisonitis – a sort of affliction that many of us have. Whether it’s comparing our looks, possessions, or achievements, we may measure our worth by how we stack up against others.
For example, imagine you just got your white shirt and then see some blue shirts sparring; you feel like you’re so far from that and get discouraged. What does this do to your white shirt achievement? The quick comparison can diminish what you have worked so long to accomplish.
While it’s natural to want to gauge our progress and success in life, comparing ourselves to others can pose a real detriment to our self-esteem and overall well-being. Comparison is unhealthy for so many reasons; let’s dive into a few of them.
Everyone’s journey is different
When we compare ourselves to others, we often forget that everyone’s journey is different. Each person has unique circumstances, strengths, and weaknesses that shape their path in life.
For example, imagine one person comes from a family with a long lineage of professional swimmers. They get put into lessons at an early age, swim competitively for their whole life and become an Olympian. Another person with a life-long fear of the water and no family history of competitive swimming starts swimming at age 30 to overcome this. Those two situations are incomparable, yet the second person may still feel unaccomplished in swimming because they aren’t as fast as others or as comfortable in the water.
But look at what the second person accomplished! By comparing ourselves to others, we fail to appreciate our unique journey and the progress we have made. We may also feel frustrated or discouraged if we believe we’re not where we “should” be in life — especially if we base our standards on others’ achievements.
It can lead to jealousy and resentment
Comparing ourselves to others can inevitably lead to feelings of jealousy and resentment. When we see others achieving things we desire, it’s natural to feel envious. However, these feelings can quickly turn into bitterness and resentment, becoming toxic for our mental health and relationships.
Maybe one of your good friends has trained in Muay Thai longer than you and is a better technical striker. Rather than using that to motivate and inspire you, you end up feeling jealous and annoyed at them for being where they are.
Instead of focusing on what others have, we’re better off focusing on our goals and what we can do, and celebrate others’ accomplishments without feeling threatened or competitive.
I heard Coach Dan recently say, “Be where you are” — a simple yet great statement to live in the present moment and be happy with wherever you are along the journey.
It can diminish our self-worth
When we constantly compare ourselves to others, we can diminish our self-worth. If we believe our worth is based on our achievements and how we stack up against others, we may feel inadequate and inferior. Instead of focusing on external measures of success, we should focus on building a strong sense of self-worth based on our values, interests, and unique qualities. Being good at Muay Thai or Jiu-Jitsu is a positive thing, but it is not what defines you as a person, nor is it the reason that you have value.
It can distract us from our goals
When we are too focused on comparing ourselves to others, we may lose sight of our goals and priorities. Instead of working towards our aspirations, we become distracted by others’ achievements. This shift in attention can lead to a lack of direction and purpose in life, as well as feelings of dissatisfaction and unfulfillment.
To avoid this, we should focus on our journey and goals, rather than getting caught up in what others are doing.
It’s a never-ending cycle
Comparing ourselves to others is a never-ending cycle. There will always be someone who has achieved more, looks better, younger, or has more possessions than us. If we base our self-worth on external comparisons, we’ll never feel truly satisfied or fulfilled.
Instead, we should focus on our progress and growth without worrying about how we stack up against others. When you focus on your growth, you are guaranteed improvements, even if they come in small bursts.
We’ve all seen how comparing ourselves and our achievements to others can harm our mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being. Let’s combat this by seeing the bigger picture.
When we focus on our own journeys, celebrate others’ accomplishments, and allow them to inspire and motivate us without feeling threatened, jealous, or saying that these people are just lucky, we can all share in the joy. Their journey led them to success and so can yours, even if the path is different. You are worthy and valuable simply for being yourself.