Comparing ourselves to others doesn’t work as a motivating force. It actually ends up doing the opposite.
Comparison generally works two ways:
- They’re better than me. (I’m not good enough.)
- I’m better than them. (Looking for something to flaw).
In either case, this feels terrible. Let’s break these down a bit, and then we’ll find one positive area comparison can be empowering.
They’re better than me. When we look at someone and they have something we don’t, has done something we haven’t, or seems to have more confidence than us, we look at it as a whipping stick for our own value. Isn’t that wild? This usually shows itself in the thought, ‘I’m not good enough.’ We’ll even throw that thought around when we compare ourself to ourself. It doesn’t always have to be other people. We can look at something we ‘used’ to do ‘well’ or at all and start whipping ourself into a pulp.
I’m better than them. Oooo! Just typing this makes me feel icky. LOL. While some may use this as a confidence booster, this thought comes from a place of fear and inadequacy. When we go looking for peoples’ flaws, guess what? We’ll find a bunch. The brain looks for the proof in what we tell it, so what we see in other people will depend on what we’re thinking. Every single person has ‘flaws’ or traits that another could see as ‘flaws.’ If we make it a focus to confirm if ‘we’re better,’ we’re going to find some stuff. BUT the opposite of this is true too. We can look for the qualities in others that we appreciate and find a bunch of goodies too. It doesn’t mean we always agree; it just means we understand their value as a human, and that we both have the same value.
Putting others ‘below us’ is only in our brain anyway, and it doesn’t feel good. It may have the illusion of feeling good if we use it to ‘boost’ our own thoughts of ourselves, but it has a net-negative effect on us and actually can cause us to judge ourselves more. Crazy, right?
The good news is we don’t have to be restricted by these ideas and comparisons – either one. They only feel painful when we believe them, and who is offering these up as facts? Our own brain! Isn’t that funny? We hear our brain ‘go there’ in comparison and automatically believe it’s true.
We can change how we think: about others, about ourselves, whatever.
This is different from simply trying to think positive. The reason that doesn’t work most of the time is because we force really pretty sounding sentences into our routine, but we don’t believe it yet.
How we think impacts how we feel, so if we simply start repeating something that ‘sounds’ good but haven’t validated that it actually creates a positive feeling for us, it can have the complete opposite effect.
It takes practice, but it is totally possible.
Changing how we think takes intentional steps to ‘try on’ new thoughts.
Before we go, I promised to offer an option of comparison that does feel good for everyone.
That’s to see what someone has done and view that it’s possible. Love this! What others accomplish means nothing about us.
Celebrate their joys and remember how valuable you both are. It feels much better and the only side effect I can think of is motivation to start believing you can do the things that are important to you.