comparison, criticism

What Comparison of Others Costs Us

comparison, criticismWow! I still catch myself comparing apples to oranges…often enough that it’s embarrassing. We know to value uniqueness. We’re encouraged to accept our life the way it is and not compare who we are, what we have, or what we do to other people. But still, we do it.

Social Media, television, the music industry, and even the nightly news encourage us to pursue a common lifestyle for health and happiness. While some of that advice may be true, like healthy eating, or how to engage in stress-free living, our cultural “ideals” often cause us to look outside for answers about who we are and what we’re doing here…which leads us to engage in the common practice of comparison. It’s so accepted, it seems normal.

But comparison in all it’s forms robs of us self-acceptance. It’s important we learn to recognize it and be aware of it’s effects. Comparison can take on one of two forms, seeing ourselves as inferior, or perceiving ourselves as superior. Neither is healthy for the Self, nor for building relationships with others. This is how it looks when we’re caught up in comparison.

When I compare myself to others and come up short,

I cannot appreciate them for who they are.

All I can see are the things, whether it’s a relationship, a certain amount of money, or type of home, that I don’t have. Not feeling comparable or worthy, I look for reasons not to like them. I create separation between us. This is a defense mechanism designed to protect my ego from feeling less than, even though I already do.

And, I cannot appreciate myself for who I am.

Allowing their best to be my worst drives a wedge between us. It undercuts and undervalues all that I am or could be. I create an unrealistic profile of the “ideal” human, one that does not and cannot ever exist. Yet that ideal remains in my consciousness as a model I try unsuccessfully to live up to. This leads to frustration and deep dissatisfaction.

When I compare myself to others and come out on top,

I cannot appreciate others for who they are.

I see myself as superior, having more intelligence, a better car, more patience, better health, a more lucrative job. I place unrealistic expectations on others and judge them for not being more like me. I can’t see the gifts they do have because I’m blind to what they have to offer. Again I create separation and discount those people from my life.

Others can never appreciate me for who I really am I.

I constantly have to hustle to keep up and prove that I’m “better.” Maybe not overtly, but secretly I look for ways to demonstrate my superiority. I can never relax and be myself because I might slip a notch or two. People only ever get to see the well-curated version of who I am. My authentic self could never hold up to my own comparison of what’s best.

Putting a STOP to comparison

Comparison separates us and creates barriers so we can’t really connect as living, breathing human beings. Developing an awareness about how and when we compare can help us stop. Recognizing our comparing ways requires mindfulness and training. Every time your mind points out differences, you can question that. Develop a mantra to close the gap like, “We are all LOVE living in human form.” That’s mine. It helps me remember to accept differences as necessary and beautiful.

We especially have to be careful when we are around others and the conversation turns to comparison. Initially, when I would find myself caught up in this kind of conversation, I would just get quiet. I didn’t want others to judge me for pointing out their comparing when I also did it sometimes. But I took time to notice it coming from others and tried not to add or engage. Today I either excuse myself from comparing conversations or try to say something positive without making others feel ashamed.

It’s important that we become aware of comparison if we want to end our internal negative self-criticism. All the things we judge or criticize outside of us are areas where we probably need healing. Take a moment today to check yourself on comparing. If you turned your thoughts back on yourself, what would they be saying about you. Recognize that’s not true either and you will have made a huge leap toward your own greater self-acceptance and self-love.

Check out this Self Love Contract for more on how to end your need to compare. 

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Wishing you all a big dose of Autumn Love from Indiana!!

In Light and Love, Tracy






  1. Tim Dibble

    There are times when comparison yields significant progress. Competitive athletes compare all the time, driving themselves to perform better. The nation competed with the Soviets to land man on the moon. A Comparison driving achievement. A professional speaker learns or witnesses some tack that a competitor uses and incorporates it to improve. Comparison is present in most academic adventures, comparing your answer against the known truths in an attempt to guide your thought process and provide improvement

  2. Those are really good points about human development Tim. I call that research, rather than comparison. For me they are different because they aren’t about leveling ourselves. Comparison seeks to make one better or worse and research seeks to learn how to better oneself.

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