There are many people I could compare myself to, but I don’t, or at least I try to keep it to a minimum. I’ve become very conscious of where it’s likely to happen. My inner critic, the surprising perfectionist in me, can rear its ugly head and put me back on the I’m not good enough’ path. There are many reasons why engaging in the regular self-hacking that is comparison is a must-kick habit. There’s healthy comparison that’s used to positively learn from the insights and grow (like when you compare your skills, not your worth, to a peer). And then there’s the unhealthy comparison, a hatchet job that leaves you wounded.

When I first started writing Baggage Reclaim in September 2005, I would look around at other sites and tweak, chop, and change. I very quickly realised that this defeated the purpose of what I was doing and would kill what made it original in its own right before it had a chance to blossom. I don’t want it to be an identical version of something else.

Throughout my entire career I’ve seen great people and great things crushed by unhealthy comparison because neither knew how to exist in their own right. They had short-lived periods of contentment but at the back of the person or the company’s mind, was this pervasive urge to keep comparing so they kept making more and more changes and in the end, they were unrecognisable, and not in a good way.Based on that comparison, we don’t question our beliefs and go off on an illogical tangent.

Healthy comparison doesn’t detract from you; it adds. It might even motivate you.

There will always be people to compare to whom you deem ‘better’ as long as you fundamentally find yourself unacceptable.

I’m not perfect. Try as I might, I will never be. I could spend the rest of my life attempting to get as close to perfection as possible and, no doubt, beating myself up for my ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures’ while I’m at it. I could keep estimating and measuring myself against others in areas where I’m already my harshest critic.

You’ll always be vulnerable in the areas where you already judge yourself, so stop judging yourself if you want to reduce the vulnerability. Nobody can use it against you when you’re not using it against you.

You’re not perfect, and you’re not supposed to be. While you’re busy decimating and censoring who you are to try and replace it with who you ‘should’ be (you know, that annoying voice that keeps piping up and trying to drown out your true identity), you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You’re human and flawed like everyone on the planet. Why keep busting your tail about something that really isn’t that special by focusing on your flaws?

Everybody has flaws.

You can try and compare and go, ‘Oh, but they have fewer flaws than I do’, but that’s bullshit borne out of you putting them on a pedestal and admiring them while putting yourself beneath them. Everybody has flaws; it’s just that not all of us focus on them. Not all of us see them in others (some of us do a mighty fine job of essentially sticking a pump up people’s bottoms and inflating them), and we’re not always able to be around someone when their character is tested. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.

We continue to pedal this myth to ourselves that we’re not good enough and everybody is living the hunky-dory lifestyle when we all know of people who have been and done things that surprise us, and it’s not in a good way. And yet, we continue to compare.

What makes a person is character. Sadly, it’s not what we always look for in others or what we appreciate in ourselves.

Let’s be real; some of us believe that superficial stuff like appearance and status is character. We can also be guilty of assuming that wealth, intelligence, and even accomplishments being present in a person are automatic precursors to their having character. That’s why I hear from so many people who have been with beautiful/attractive/highly intelligent/popular assclowns. If you’ve been in this position, you’ve taken a detour and forgotten that character is what shows how someone will treat you.

What we tend to overvalue in others or ourselves is what we compare ourselves to while attributing nil or a minuscule value to our character and what truly matters. We may have no sense of our qualities and characteristics because we’ve spent our entire lives comparing, for example, our appearance.

Oddly, though, we can admire and even love people for what essentially boils down to superficial stuff that doesn’t rely on character and then feel wounded when we believe they’ve not valued our character, which doesn’t make sense. How can you ignore code red issues and focus on the stuff that isn’t making a difference to how you’re treated or feeling but then feel bad about not being valued by them beyond anything superficial?

We compare our appearance, accomplishments and even what we perceive to be our skills to others, but these are the moving goalposts of life.

We age. Accomplishments can decrease in relevance and value. Skills evolve and, in some cases, get replaced and automated in our modern world. You can link some of this stuff to your character, but even if, for instance, your skills change, it doesn’t mean your character has. This reality is why we shouldn’t see ourselves as a ‘failure’ (failed person).

All of these things change and can even be taken away, but what you cannot take away is character. It can and does exist while you’re being human, which means you’re going to err in this life, but it doesn’t mean you’re not worthy.

It’s a hell of a lot easier to reduce comparison and its impact (which can be tormenting) when you are somebody you respect. You ultimately possess or are working on evolving into the characteristics and values that matter to you in others. When you respect your character and can appreciate you for the small, medium, and large things you do and are in your life, the changes you’ve made, the adversities you’ve overcome, etc., you prioritise character and these aspects in others.

It doesn’t matter what other people do with their lives because it’s theirs. Focusing on their lives and hacking at yourself won’t change the fact that you have your own life to put your stamp on and that you’re a unique person on a journey that you and only you will make. You can keep measuring yourself against others, but it’s illogical and irrelevant because you’re not the same. We each have different thinking and behavioural habits as well as experiences.

Do appearance, status, etc., open doors?

Absolutely, but an open door doesn’t mean contentment beyond the door frame. Many people have the things you want but are unhappy or their character undermines the very thing you overvalue while devaluing yourself.

Why keep diminishing you with comparison? The more you do it, the less there is of you.

Instead of comparing, respect and appreciate what you do have, no matter how small you think it is. It paves the way to growth. There will always be something and someone you can compare to, which is all the more reason why you’re on this journey to discover, reclaim, and appreciate yourself.

Your thoughts?

You can change your relationship with comparison and perfectionism so that you feel more self-confident. Check out The Perfectionism Sessions.

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