May 26, 2016

How we Fail Ourselves with Comparison to Others.

comparison jealousy

There’s a lot of pressure these days to be successful: we get bombarded every day with articles and pictures of successful business owners, happy families and fulfilled dreams.

And this is so inspiring! It’s always been helpful for me to see people like this.

Ever since I was little, I’ve looked up to so many people for so many different reasons. And I enjoyed that—until I started feeling overwhelmed by the success of others.

All of a sudden I started feeling the pressure of constant comparison. I was feeling kind of down and I caught myself thinking about how much of that success I seemed to be missing out on. I haven’t stopped admiring people; I just started giving it a second thought.

I’m positive it’s still the inspiration we all need in our lives. I mean, if it weren’t for seeing all these thriving people who’ve made the hustle a part of their daily lives, what would we do? We’d have to look closely at ourselves. We’d maybe have to figure out what we want and what our true desires are.

Don’t get the wrong idea here—having people to look up to can be motivating, but sometimes we get so caught up in admiration that we seem to forget the reason why we looked up to those people in the first place: for validation.

Our idols are usually people who we consider are living our own “dream” and, naturally, by seeing them do it we slip into the mindset that our dreams are reachable. So far so good, right? We feel better knowing that what we want isn’t really that crazy, that it’s actually doable, even for us. I remember looking at these people who seem like they’re destined for success and then remembering me, the little girl who still has such a long way to go and feels like she’s still on the brim of a vast sea of lessons to learn.

And that’s where the plan breaks.

Oftentimes by comparing our success to that of someone else, we put them on a kind of pedestal—because they’re successful and they’re making it all work. What we don’t notice is that by doing this we subconsciously tell ourselves that we differ from them. By admiring a person who seemingly has everything we want for ourselves, we create a barrier in our minds between our current life and the life we want. For instance: “I wonder what he did to get so much…” We begin to think this person is not like us, that he probably has different skill-sets and routines and that’s most likely why he succeeded—he’s got what it takes. And we ask ourselves—do we?  We consider what we’re doing now and we seem to be way off track.

And here’s how negative affirmations start to creep around in our minds; we start doubting our abilities, sometimes without even knowing it.

We get lazy. We start researching what our role model did with the hope of pinpointing that one thing that made everything work out, and we forget that this one thing might not be valid for us at all. I’ve caught myself doing that so many times: pushing myself into trying different things just because they worked for someone else, even when I feel from the start that they’re not right for me.

It’s easy to hide behind the idea that there’s a universal success factor that we just haven’t discovered yet, but the truth is that there really is no such thing. We need to define success by and for ourselves. Yes, looking around for guidelines can be beneficial as long as we keep the idea in the back of our heads that it’s just a guideline, not a norm. Success was never universal—and as it’s a matter of personal view, so are the means to get to it; no two success stories are completely alike. Ever.

It’s not going to be as simple as copying and pasting something into your own story. You’ll have to try out different things and fail until you find out what works best for yourself. And you’ll have to trust your gut. It’s most likely going to take a while, too.

You know those overnight success stories? They’re not the norm either. It would be so wonderful if they were, but they’re not. Your success will probably take time, persistence and conscious effort and the sooner you become friends with that notion, the better.

By allowing ourselves to sink too deep into comparison between ourselves and others, we automatically tune in to all the “flaws” and imperfections of where we are right now. We start to see more clearly the picture-perfect end goal, but the path to it gets more and more blurred. And it’s easy to get confused because there’s a sea of information out there—so which path do we take?

When we develop the habit of viewing everything with a bit of doubt and approaching each option as just that—an option that needs to be tested and may or may not work for us—we end our confusion simply because we know what works for our own success. Because our success is all about staying wide awake, being curious and innovative in our lives, staying persistent in our attempts at happiness, not getting discouraged when others around us are, and paying attention. It’s not an easy thing but we can all get there.

It’s our responsibility to be mindful about comparing ourselves with others when taking steps toward our success. Not success in general but each our personal successes—yours and mine.


Author: Dez Dimitrova

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: Thomas Ricker/Flickr


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