24.04.12

You like me, right? I hope so, because I’m about to tell you something rather shameful.

This is NOT a nice thing to admit about myself. But I find courage to tell you from the fact that I strongly suspect that many of you will be the same way.

I can’t stop comparing myself to others, and measuring up my successes and failures against theirs. I’m competitive. And often-times, envious.

What do I compare? Everything. It’s like we women are in some kind of universal league table. We tally up points for everything: how pretty we are, how much we weigh, how glossy our hair is, how many pairs of shoes we have. How happy we are, how busy our social life is, how many friends we have, how close we are to our family, how beautiful our spouse/children are, how stylish our home is. Our career status, our personal and public achievements, our ambitions, our intellect, our wit. Everything.

The net result of it is, we comparers are always way down the bottom of the league table, looking up at all the beautiful, successful, intelligent, popular women above us.

Now I know that this is wrong. I know it affects the way I relate to other women, and how they relate to me. Worse still, it reduces other women to something far less than the sum of their parts.

I know it’s damaging. I know it makes me unhappy.

What I don’t know, is how to stop doing it. I want to stop comparing, measuring, assessing, competing, but I don’t know how to. Truly.

I was discussing this over on someone else’s blog recently, and someone made a very thought provoking comment that I would like to share with you. She said:

“Just remind yourself that your life, I’m sure, is plentiful, and that no one else’s achievements, body, or life has anything to do with yours, and so should have nothing to do with how you feel about your own life, body and achievements.”

This really resonated with me – I keep revisiting the page to read the words over. To try to get them to sink into my heart, not just my head. Because logically I know this to be true, but still I find myself slipping back into comparisons.

But there’s a really profound truth here. I am me. You are you. We are utterly and completely unique. We are not linked in some kind of bizarre chain reaction of status. If you achieve something, that does not automatically push me down the scale. It does not change my achievements. If I walk into a party, and there are ten women taller than me, and ten women shorter than me, that does not actually change my height! I am, what I am. You are what you are.

I have written and rewritten that paragraph, but any way I word it, sounds crazy. Because it is crazy! But if you are a comparer, you’ll get what I’m saying. And if you’re not, lucky you. But I’m not jealous.

Well, I’m trying not to be, at any rate.

So, tell me, do you compare yourself with others? How do you deal with it?

5 thoughts on “24.04.12

  1. What? We’re supposed to deal with it?

    I suppose what I try to do is celebrate with/for those who achieve something I’m still working towards. Their achievement won’t stop mine and it’s worth celebrating.

  2. I suppose the thing to remember is that just because someone else achieves something that you would like to achieve that doesn’t mean you can’t do it too. For instance, just because people have swum the English Channel doesn’t mean you can’t still do it, though I would have to ask why? But maybe that highlights something else, my goals aren’t yours and those people we compare ourselves too and our little pangs of envy at their accomplishments, shoes, hair whatever…who knows what their goals are, maybe it’s something we find easy or that we have done and they are trying to climb that mountain we ran up. Even though I know I compare, I also know in my heart that we are far stronger together than we are apart. We achieve nothing by being unkind to others and ourselves.
    I saw this saying in a magazine pic once and it was so simple and obvious but true. “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

  3. I do – and I try to hear myself doing it. Often I fail to realise what my thoughts are doing and I feel like a miserable failure at this huge thing ‘Life’. However when I engage my brain consciously I always come to realise that lives are complex and just because someone has thinness, wealth, creative reward, or many other things I aspire to, their life is not better – I have so wonder much in my life. The old idea of a gratitude diary – even if I only remember it when I feel ungrateful and ungracious – helps!

  4. So True!
    I got stopped in my tracks at the wise age of 13, when I shared with a schoolmate that I envied her the fact that she had “garden-club, coffee-table-magazine” sort of mother. To which she promptly replied that she envied me for having a “real Mom”. (Since I was of that age when your parents embarrass you, and Mom’s voice could wake the neighborhood; I was shocked into reevaluating my mother, and myself.) I have always been grateful to Jan for those words. They have re-played in my head many times over the years; always when I most need them.

  5. I think the only trick to it is to find a way of becoming increasingly content as the person you are, and so you won’t feel the need to compare, or at least not negatively.