Most of us tell ourselves that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. We probably give this advice to our friends, our partners, our colleagues and even to children. But, if we’re honest with ourselves and really take a deep, closer look at our inner daily dialogues, they may be rooted in comparison, robbing us of our greatness.
So, WHY do we compare?
Please, don’t give an immediate answer to this question. Stay with the question for a while. Meanwhile, use the following story as a mirror to look at it.
Last week, I gave my “Rise Above Your Mind” conference to various groups of university students in Manizales, Colombia. The most powerful thing that sparked something inside almost ALL of them, is when I said,
“When you compare yourself to others, it robs you completely of your own GREATNESS!”
It was like a light bulb went on. “We believed the opposite, Antonia,” they said. “We thought how can we possibly know if we’re good at something or know if we’ll ever be successful if we don’t compare ourselves with others?”
Two students, while wiping their tears said, “We dropped out of a program we really loved because our grades weren’t as high as some of the others.”
Do you see the tragedy in this?
It reminded me of a particular experience where I almost abandoned one of my passions because I compared myself to another person.
Five years ago, when I first began traveling across South America, I couldn’t put two words together in Spanish. It had been a long dream and passion of mine to speak Spanish. When I arrived in Argentina, I enrolled in Spanish courses. I was so excited. I thought, “It’ll be so easy for me. I already speak Italian, so within two weeks, I will be fluent.”
Well, after two weeks, I was not able to carry out a conversation. At the same time, we had an exam. My result was 78%. The guy next to me, a KOREAN guy, got 98%!!
Right there and then, I was devastated. I told myself, “It’s over. If I can’t speak Spanish by now, I’ll never learn. I’ll finish this session and that’s it. I’m just wasting my time.”
Later that week, I was invited to go to a language exchange event that took place weekly. I had so much fun practicing my Spanish with some of the locals. Yes, I made many mistakes that night. I stopped counting how many times I used Italian words to express myself. By practicing and being corrected and practicing and having FUN, my Spanish improved in that one night. My grade compared to the Korean guy’s grade no longer mattered. My passion for learning Spanish lit up a fire and energy inside to continue learning. I enrolled into more classes; I practiced, practiced and practiced everyday with my new local friends. Eventually, after about three months, I was able to carry out a conversation in Spanish.
Had I given up, I would have lost so many opportunities over the last five years. Including giving my conferences in Colombia.
When I let my passion for speaking Spanish blossom, I no longer compared myself to anyone. I no longer was “too slow”, or “too dumb” to do it. I was just ME.
I’ll ask again, do you see the tragedy in comparing?
How about in your own life?
Do you compare your life with others?
Do you compare your job, position, appearance, possessions with others?
Do you compare your knowledge, skills, intelligence with others?
Do you compare yourself as a parent with others or your children to others? And so on…
Is it in order to gauge yourself as to where you stand in your life? Is it to get applause from others?
We have been educated and conditioned our whole lives to compare ourselves or have been compared to others; whether it was in school, sports, appearance. It has become an automatic habit in our daily lives.
In doing so, we have become our own enemy and prisoners in our lives. We no longer have the freedom to discover our greatness. We end up comparing our worst and our weaknesses to others’ best and strengths. It’s a never ending vicious cycle which inevitably will bring suffering and sorrow.
Watch it for a moment.
What happens inside when you compare yourself to someone you think is a better mom, a better writer, a better hockey player, a better employee, a better student and so on?
Your thoughts begin telling you things like, “you’re not good enough”, “I’ll never be that good, forget it”, “you’re such a loser”, “it’s just not fair”, and any other colorful thoughts your own mind tells you.
Now, as soon as this happens and continues to happen, you end up believing it to be true, right? How can you possibly move forward, learn and grow from any mistake and discover the beauty inside from all these stories? YOU CAN’T!
If you don’t compare yourself to ANYONE, watch what happens: your mind is silent. In that silence, there’s space for you to move forward. You accept where YOU are now. And, when you don’t compare, no distractions come pouring in your mind stooping you from moving forward. Your complete attention is on what your next step will be: YOUR next step, not in comparison to someone.
In that attention, you discover and blossom your own unique gift!
We are not robots or objects. Yet we have become mechanical by comparing and competing with others. Of course it’s great to be inspired by others. But as soon as we compare, we completely lose ourselves.
Another, if not the most important thing we have forgotten is that we are all part of NATURE!!!! Yes, we are not machines meant to be programmed to do exactly what others are doing.
We are a beautiful part of nature. So, let’s look at it, shall we?
Look at a flower. A flower doesn’t compare itself to a tree and say, “I’ll never be as tall and strong as a tree.” It just blooms and reveals its own unique beauty out in the world. It awakens our senses with its sweet, delicate fragrance that warms our hearts.
As for the tree, it does not compare itself to a flower and say, “I wish I could be as beautiful as a flower.” It just stands tall and brings its own beauty to this earth.
An avocado does not compare itself to a mushroom and say, “why can’t I grow as fast as a mushroom?” It grows at its own pace into one of the most nutritional, delicious, unique foods.
Look at yourself, pay close attention to your own inner beauty. The moment you discover it, your passion for life and for whatever you what to do, will be your light and your own supreme intelligence. Comparison will no longer hold a place in your heart and hold you back. By discovering the beauty you already have inside, you’ll begin to live your life in abundance and see the beauty in all things around you.
Is there something you’ve been comparing yourself with others? What happens if you don’t compare? Do it now and share what happens when you do it in the comments.