On comparison

I used to compare a lot. To friends, co-workers, later to people on the internet. That’s not so strange in my case, because I was compared a lot as a child, to my older sister or other kids at school. I kind of never knew that you don’t have to compare to other to see if you’re good enough.

At some point I stopped, but I don’t know when it happened exactly. Sure I still compare sometimes, but it’s less general, less random. It’s more focused on one particular topic I feel I’m not achieving enough in.

The comparison comes up particularly in the times of uncertainty. Like when I moved to another country to be with the guy I’ve met six month before (He’s my husband now and we’re very happy by the way.), where I was allowed to settle, but wasn’t allowed to work. Or when starting my own business in the crowded coaching world and loosing my day job at the same time.

The difference between now and then is that I know not to get into the downward spiral of comparing to other successful people and how to talk (or write) myself out of it.

A couple of months ago I picked up a copy of Lucy Sheridan’s book The Comparison Cure, because I thought I needed it, but it actually made me realise that the comparison is not such a big problem for me any more. It was a great feeling to see that it changed for me. That I’m able to recognise those moments and work through them.

I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years. I’ve learned to trust my vision and when I compare to others to connect to it and recognise what’s important to me.

I’ve learned that we all are in our own time zone (Lucy, again) and use it when I get the inclination to compare to other people on the internet. We wouldn’t compare our dinner in Europe to someone’s breakfast in Australia. Wouldn’t we? I’ve learned to focus on my own goals and my own work that I need to do, instead of looking at others and where they are.

I’ve learned to identify what’s good for me. I understand that other people’s lives or ways of doing things are not necessarily good for me. I’ve learned to put my head down and do the work. To stay in my lane and stop looking for the magic formula. I’ve learned that there’s no one way to do things. That we all need to figure our own path.

It’s a work in progress and it never ends. But knowing that there’s place for us all and there’s a time zone for us all, makes it a little bit easier.

If you’re struggling with comparison I recommend Lucy Sheridan’s The Comparison Cure. Lucy is one of the reasons why I am where I am.


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11 thoughts on “On comparison

  1. Comparing yourself to other is good when you see your own deficiencies, you don’t break down, just act to make up for those deficiencies. However, if the comparison is only for criticise yourself, finding faults – it is not good and completely unnecessary. It can even cause depression.

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        1. The action that comes from comparing is not a good action. You react to someone else’s situation, not your own. You said deficiencies, that’s a negative point of view. You make yourself believe that there’s something wrong with you. So you need to act to “repair” that. That’s not a good action. The only good action is the one that comes from your own need to get better at something, not because someone else is better at it.

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          1. This is not exactly how you write. A person who does not see the situation of other people, may not even know that his own way of acting is weak or unproductive. Good ideas are not always created by ourselves. Sometimes it is a different person who makes us aware of it. So observing and comparing to our own point of view, our own situation, and finally our own being – but in the context of changing our own life, intended to be satisfying – such comparison does isn’t bad at all. Bad is comparison of the effects of those (our and other) acts.

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          2. We see the world differently. My experiences and what I’ve learned about comparison tell me that comparison is bad.
            Just look what words you use: deficiencies, weak, unproductive. This can’t make anyone feel good.
            Those are the words I heard all my childhood, it didn’t do me any good. It wouldn’t do any child any good.
            I’m not saying that we shouldn’t look at what other people are doing, but we shouldn’t compare to them. We can learn from them. And that’s a completely different story.

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          3. Comparing can be a reason for a good change. If you want to be like your mentor, an educated, wise man, with great knowledge, it is obvious that you first made some kind of comparison. Mentor to yourself :-) And you start learning to have such knowledge as this mentor. It all starts at the stage of comparison, which gives strength to self-improvement.
            Of course, that at some point a person begins to perceive the world enriched with new experiences and then it may turn out that what he is striving for, is completely different from what he previously thought. But the source of change is that comparison at the begining :)

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          4. I don’t actually think it’s comparison, it’s having a mentor and looking up to someone. If you’d compare yourself to someone who’s ages ahead of you, you’d feel like you’re lacking, like you’re behind. Comparing your beginning with someone else’s end is never good. It’s like comparing your morning to someone else’s evening. Like I said, learning from someone who’s further in the process is a completely different story.

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          5. We don’t have to agree. And we will not agree on this as I don’t believe that children naturally compare. I think that’s what adults do and teach their children that.
            But that’s my opinion. And I would have to read some literature on this to know more.

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          6. Of course we don’t have to agree. Conversations with people who think differently are interesting :)
            As for children, I think that in the first years they observe and learn the world themselves. I don’t know if you have children, but basically every boy tells his mother that he will marry her someday :-) I know such cases among children of friends and I have a boy. Why do they do that? Because they see that adults do it, they want to be like adults, but it is such a desire by comparing themselves. If somebody say “I would like to be like you”, he make comparison. I am not either a psychologist, I think like an observer.

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