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I compare myself to other people. ALL THE TIME. And you know what? It’s healthy. You should do it too. Trust me here, it’s not what you think. The word ‘compare’ gets bullied and we need to stop that nonsense! we SHOULD be comparing ourselves! As a matter of fact, it’s sort of necessary to have a functioning society…
What if we didn’t compare?
If I didn’t compare myself to others I’d probably be wearing those hideous Janties and listening to heavy metal music in the children’s section of the library. If I didn’t compare myself to see what was ‘normal’ (read: generally socially acceptable) or not harmful to others I’d probably be in jail. Let’s be honest here, a lot of you would be in jail with me. Comparing myself to others has taught me that pants are indeed NOT optional in most places, kids SHOULD be parented and supervised, that I should not sing Nine Inch Nails in the grocery store, and that I am indeed a true badass.
So what IS comparison anyway? And How can it possibly be good?
Healthy comparisons are a GOOD thing. Unhealthy comparisons (things that lead us down the guilt rabbit hole or turn us into victimy victims annoying the rest of the world) are not. So how do you tell the difference? I”ll tell you! You ask yourself two simple little questions.
- How does this comparison make me feel?
- Did I learn something?
THAT’S IT! Because there are 4 possible outcomes to those questions. Let’s break those down…
A. 1. Bad 2. No.
This outcome is the ‘bad’ comparison that we should avoid like our kids avoid taking a bath. This only serves to make you feel bad and it’s bullshit. Example: ‘Glenda is thinner than me. I suck.’ You have learned NOTHING and you just feel bad. This makes you a
B. 1. Bad 2. Yes
This comparison is one we don’t LIKE but it can be helpful. If we have the right attitude, this type of comparison can create personal growth or motivation. Example: ‘Glenda puts her kids to bed so early! But they aren’t rabid tortoises by 6 pm. Maybe I should try that.’ You might feel bad that you aren’t as disciplined as Glenda with bedtime. But you are motivated to TRY.
C. 1. Good 2. No
This is called a compliment and you just gave yourself one! Congratulations! Now do it more often. Of course, you shouldn’t be complimenting yourself at other people’s expense to their faces, but it honestly can’t hurt to get some more confidence in yourself. Example: ‘Glenda is so fit! But I just beat her personal best in a 5k! Damn, I’m good.’ You already know you were fit and strong too, but this small comparison just boosted your confidence a teeny bit more. This is a good thing. You should also pass along that feeling by telling Glenda how freakin’ amazing her butt looks lately or something.
D. 1. Good 2.Yes
This is the nice twin of letter B. You feel good AND you learn something! This is my favorite one! This is the sweet spot of personal growth and motivation. Example: ‘Glenda is more patient than me. But I noticed that I can be like her after kickboxing class. I should do more kickboxing classes and I will be more patient!’ In this scenario, you notice something in someone else that you admire, and in turn, found out how to emulate it! You learned something! Yay, you!
Comparison is not the Enemy
Comparing things (or people) isn’t a bad thing. Comparison itself is a simple, harmless act. Just look at the definition for fucks sake!
to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences
tocompare two pieces of cloth; to compare the governments of two nations.
Is that REALLY that awful? NO! It’s what you do with it that makes it bad! If you get all victimy and ask those around you to compare you to others and refuse all positive outcomes? Yes, then it sucks. So stop doing that!
Learn from comparison, don’t get trapped in it! As much as I’d love to live in my own little world where I only eat cheese, never wear pants, and raise my children to be complete and total weirdos… that would suck. There’s this thing called society, that even awkward old me, needs to know how to function in. And as much as I hate people, I do need them. Like everything in life, it’s a fine line.
In a nutshell, comparing myself to others helps me be a better, more effective, and happier person. I know where I stand, where I can (and WANT) to improve, and what I just don’t give a rats ass about. So when I notice Glenda’s perfect hair it doesn’t bother me. Because I honestly don’t care about my hair 99% of the time. I know that this comparison will make me feel bad that I look like Gene Simmons and will have learned nothing. However, when I notice Glenda benching 100 lbs, I’m like ‘damn, I wanna do that!’ and so I get to work. Or when I notice Glenda struggling with drinking enough water while I’m practically a fish, I feel good and my confidence improves. Or sometimes when I’m out running and notice my pace is now a little faster than Glenda’s I learn that I AM improving! WINNING!
Do you need to compare yourself to someone? I volunteer! Come hang out with me in my community and compare away. Only healthy comparisons allowed though!