The Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Others
Updated: Aug 4
Comparing yourself to others is a reliable way to reduce your confidence, motivation, and self-esteem. It is quite a natural thing to do to make these types of comparisons, because most people do it. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good, or healthy, move!
Become the best version of yourself by avoiding comparing yourself to others
There are a number of things to consider when you compare yourself to someone else:
Everyone has a different starting point. You might be just learning to play golf, but perhaps your friend has been playing for 10 years. You might be really interested in playing basketball, but you’re only 5-feet tall and your friend is 18 inches taller than you are. Are you being fair to yourself if you compare yourself with them?
You can’t compare progress, results, or success unless the starting points are the same, and they never are!
Everyone has different gifts and talents, and different levels within those gifts and talents. For example, some people are born with a high IQ, others might naturally have amazing hand-eye coordination, and yet others have a natural knack for music or perhaps maths. Is it fair to compare and judge each gift/talent with the other when they are all so different?
The resources available to you and other people are different. If you want to play the violin and your father is a wealthy concert violinist, you have a huge advantage over someone born into a financially-challenged family that has no experience in music. Is it fair to compare the two?
We tend to compare ourselves to the best in the world. You probably don’t compare your poker skills to your next-door neighbour, but end up comparing yourself to tournament winners. Naturally we find that we have a tendency to compare ourselves to the best the world has to offer, rather than comparing ourselves to the average.
It's important to remember that there will always be someone who is better at a particular thing. There are only a handful of people in the whole world that can make a reasonable claim to being the best at something. There are nearly eight billion people in the world. That’s a lot of people you would have to surpass to be the best!
It’s easy to see why making comparisons can be dangerous. There’s little to gain and a lot at risk.
Comparing ourselves to others doesn’t provide us useful information
Here’s some ideas of things that you can do instead:
Compare yourself to yourself. This is a much better option than comparing yourself to someone else. Pay attention to your progress over time and notice your improvement. As long as you’re making headway (no matter how small), you have a good reason to be excited -Strive to become better each day!
Limit your exposure to social media. In theory, social media exists to connect people. In actuality, social media is often used as a way of showing off. Most people report being happier when they have removed, or at least limited, social media from their lives
Remember, you rarely get the real story. What you get is someone’s best attempt to make their life look better than it really is. Everyone, except you, seems to be living a spectacular life, but it’s just not true – even people who appear to have the most charmed of lives will be struggling and suffering with something at some point.
Social media is a tool, use it in as much as it is helpful to you, but don’t let it take over and become unhelpful in your life.
Use the success of others as inspiration. The success of others can be useful to you. You can study how they became so successful, ie look to their behaviours rather than the end result. Their success can inspire you to become the best you can be - Just avoid comparing your success to theirs.
The best comparison you can make is to your past self - compare your current version of yourself to the version of yourself from three months ago. That’s a much fairer comparison to make. Set yourself a few goals and spend some time each day/week working on them. Reviewing them regularly helps you to see your progress (or lack of it) and will give you a sense of reward when you can see how you are getting on.