“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” —Zen Shin
“I wish I were as fast as him. I wish I had her hair. I wish I were as smart as him.” We all compare ourselves to others at some point in our lives, even on a daily basis! Comparing ourselves to others is actually natural, and can be a good way to evaluate, and even encourage ourselves. When comparing helps make us better, it can be a good thing! Comparison just gets dangerous when other people (and outside factors in general) get to decide our self worth, and weigh upon our self esteem. That’s a red flag that we’re losing sight of the big picture!
It’s okay to make goals inspired by other people’s accomplishments. It’s not okay to put others on a pedestal of worth higher than our own, and feel negatively every time we look at them. Its results can be detrimental, if not devastating. Poor self esteem has been associated with life-threatening conditions on a wide scale of people, with 86% of women reporting the onset of an eating disorder, which has the highest death rate among any mentally-based disorder!
The “C” word isn’t totally to blame. Comparing ourselves to each other is totally natural, and healthy. The reason it can get us into trouble is when we fail to see ourselves and each other from God’s viewpoint and recognize our absolute unique value in all of creation, through all of time. There is no one like you!
Here are some things to consider that can get us started on comparing the right way, by looking inward before we look outward. You’ll be amazed at how incredibly awesome you are when you see what God sees:
Count your blessings.
Life doesn’t depend on what we have externally, but what we make of what we have and how grateful we are for it. Just because others don’t wear their heart on their sleeve doesn’t mean they don’t go through heartache every once in a while, too. We might want what others have, but then forget that we have blessings that others only dream of having. We all deal with upsets and setbacks, but we all have some great things going for us, too. Have you thanked God for everything you have today, from the people who love you to the fact that you’re alive?
You are you.
No matter what, you are no one else but yourself. As cliché as it sounds, comparing apples to oranges just doesn’t work. It would be illogical to compare your qualities to those of someone else, because we are all individual creations of God with unique traits and characteristics. The Divine Principle explains that no two individuals will ever be exactly the same no matter how many people are born on this earth. Think about it: what an irreplaceable life and what incredible value each person has! How can your one precious life honor God and everything God gave you?
Everyone’s pretty amazing.
As we look deeper into ourselves, let’s see the deeper side of others, too. When we get into this secret battle to be better than him or her (you know who they are!), we forget that God loves us all infinitely and unconditionally, because we are God’s Children. When we look at ourselves and other people for their deeper value, regardless of how they look or what their skills are, it doesn’t become a competition anymore. We open up the possibility of weaving our unique strengths and characteristics with others to accomplish more than any of us could do alone!
Think of someone you really admire and want to be like in some way. Then think of something you are proud of yourself for. How could you two make a good team in a project or even just an awesome friendship?
See how far you’ve come.
In the end, we really should just be comparing ourselves to our own potential. The time we spend comparing ourselves to other people is time that can be spent contemplating our goals and past and present achievements. We are constantly changing and improving, so we really have no excuse not to take a look at our past selves every once in a while, and appreciate how far we have come .
God created each and every one of us, so wouldn’t God want us all to love ourselves just as we are? Life is a gift, and so are our individual qualities.
So the next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to that other student or that other athlete, take a moment to redirect the thought and look inward. Ask yourself questions that you would ask your younger sibling if he or she were doing the same thing. What goals would you like to set for the next year? How have you improved yourself in the last five years? Where would you like to see yourself in a year from now? How can you continue to blossom into an improved version of yourself?