The truth is, no matter how hard you try not to compare yourself to others, you end up doing it. Our world seems to be wired so. You could compare yourself to a colleague today, tomorrow you compare yourself to a childhood friend and so it continues. A lot of negativity is linked to comparing yourself to others. Everyone discourages that. But, comparing yourself with others isn’t as bad. Or rather could have some benefits too.
When you compare yourself to others, you tend to feel some envy. From this feeling of envy, you can learn what is really important to you. Sometimes, because of how life happens, we tend to forget what we really want and what matters to us. But, when you compare yourself to others, this could begin to dawn on you. You may begin to learn that you have wanted to get married at age 30; that you have wanted to take more time off and travel the world; that you have to start pursuing that abandoned dream and even figure out the right way to make things work for you.
Research suggests that benign envy can lead to an increase in motivation, learning and performance. Benign envy is one of the two types of envy(the other being malicious envy). Benign envy motivates people to improve themselves in order to become more like the person they envy. Don’t forget that even the big brands you patronise are always on the lookout to know what their competitors are doing. And this is how they stay ahead.
To make sure you compare yourself to others the right way, I’d suggest that you consider the following:
- Acknowledge Your Emotions: Don’t lie to yourself about how you feel. It is utterly uncomfortable to admit that people’s success makes you feel bad. But, if you don’t acknowledge that you feel jealous, you won’t be able to overcome it. You need to be able to accept that the success of that colleague gets to you, to be able to get hold of yourself. And possibly be able to convert the malicious envy to benign envy.
- Affirm Your Value: How do you value yourself? What are you worth? What do you consider important? Take your time and find out what matters or counts for you. Write them down, repeat it to yourself as many times as you have to. When you affirm your value and worth, it reduces the chances of being threatened by other’s progress. It helps you to focus on what’s important. So, you don’t end up feeling jealous when you compare yourself to others.
- Define Your Own Success: I was used to thinking that I was a terrible writer because my writings weren’t as good as some of those of other renowned writers and my peers who write. This is regardless of the fact that friends appreciate my works. I learnt to read and compare my write-ups with that of these writers but paying attention to what I’d learn from them. Also, I learnt to define my own success and what a good piece is to me. I still feel some sort of envy when I read their works, but it doesn’t make me any less a good writer. It doesn’t make any of them better writers than I am either. How do you define success? While you compare yourself to others; don’t forget that we all have varying mileages – different experiences, backgrounds, aspirations, support systems and all that.
- Be Challenged Not Threatened: When you compare yourself to others, feel challenged and not threatened. It’s easier said than done, yeah. But, it is doable. Treat the people you compare yourself to, as a brand would treat their competitors. Just level up! Remind yourself that if whoever you compare yourself to can do it, you too can. Feeling challenged leads to growth and future success, but threats don’t. When you are threatened, you are consumed with a lot of negative vibes and that could be your Waterloo.
- Be Thankful: Not just for your success, but for that of those you compare yourself with. The fact that others achieve good things, doesn’t take the good things in your life away. Being happy for others also helps to attract happiness to our own lives. In the words of Dalai Lama, “The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.”
In conclusion, I’d say, the end game should be to be a better version of yourself. And to get better at whatsoever you do. What experiences do you have comparing yourself with others? Share in the comment section.