The Cancer of Comparison

Written by Rida Tahir on March 06, 2020 (4 minute read)

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”  – Zen Shin.

Too often we are consciously or unconsciously comparing ourselves to other people, who are, more often than not, better than us in terms of looks, education, abilities, career, relationships, etc. Thanks to social media, it is now easier than ever for us to compare ourselves with others every day. And, if you are like me who has always struggled with low self-esteem, you will find 99% of your friend list to be better than you, in one way or the other.

But... comparison limits our capability to value what we have and we end up fretting over what we don’t have. It's like a cancer, the germs of which spread quickly, affecting all areas of our life. It's as injurious to our mental health and well-being as smoking is to our physical health.

Once you start comparing yourself with people who are better than you in every way, you start to see what could be your greatest strengths, as weaknesses. You try to look for the desirable traits in yourself and when you fail to find traits that even closely mimic the ones you see in this person, you feel inadequate and declare yourself a failure.

E.g when you see a woman who you think has the perfect figure, you start seeing flaws in your own even when there may be none. Don't we all know at least one woman in our lives who is thin as a rake, but still thinks and feels fat and wants to lose weight? Reason? She's idealizing and comparing herself to someone who is thinner than her.

It's a vicious cycle and an endless downward spiral that you may get caught in, not knowing how to escape.

The truth is, there will always be someone better than you, smarter than you, cooler than you, better looking than you, slimmer than you, more educated and more successful than you.

Stop comparing yourself to others and measuring your worth against other people, because it only makes you feel inferior, disappointed, and worthless.

You have your own unique strengths that you should be proud of.

Appreciate them.

Cherish them.

Celebrate them.

When you stop comparing yourself to others and start valuing your strengths and abilities, you open up to a whole new world of possibilities. In this world, everything is possible.

If you are not famous and successful at this point in time, you can be in a few years if you work hard and smart.

If you think you are not smart enough, you can play brain games, read more, write more, commit yourself to lifelong learning and expand your knowledge and hone your skills to become smarter and more knowledgeable.

If you are not confident and amusing enough to hold an audience for like 10 minutes, you can take public speaking courses, create video blogs and practice your public speaking skills every chance you get.

If you have weight issues, it’s never too late to start eating healthy and follow a proper exercise routine.

If you are bothered about your acne, you can visit a dermatologist and start taking care of your skin.

Focus on you, not on them, and on what you have, not on what you don’t.

First of all, identify your strengths and set goals to capitalize on them. Then, identify your weaknesses and set goals to overcome them.

Compare yourself with yourself. First, compare your current version with your past version. Reflect on the last two or five years. How far have you come? What have you achieved? Why are you not satisfied with what you have achieved? Did you not want to achieve what you did end up achieving? Are you working towards the wrong goals? Do you even have any goals in life or are you living randomly and just floating around like driftwood?

Next, compare your current version to your desired future version. What is your future version like? Write or type everything that you want your future version to be, have and do. What skills do you want to have that you currently don’t? Work on building those skills. Take classes. Practice. What kind of knowledge do you need to be what you want to be? Read. Take courses. Watch YouTube videos. What kind of experiences do you want to have? Figure out ways to have those experiences.

Instead of comparing yourself with others and feeling bad about yourself, allow yourself to feel inspired by them. Try to learn about thesecrets of their success or perfect figure or exceptional writing skills or whatever is desirable for you. Then apply what you learn in your own life. This is actually the only right and healthy way to compare yourself with others.

Just keep your expectations realistic, set smart goals and work your ass off, and you will almost always be able to do what you want, have what you want and be what you want. All you need to do is ditch the cancerous habit of comparing yourself to others and start exploring this world of possibilities that will only open up when you aspire and work to be a better future version of yourself, instead of a present version of somebody else.