5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Compare Yourself to Others by Instructor Ma
Early in my martial arts training I had the habit of constantly comparing myself to my classmates. Once I was able to break that habit and focus on just getting better than I was yesterday I improved much more quickly.
Everyone has fallen into the dangerous trap of comparing themselves to others. We compare ourselves to others to evaluate ourselves accurately. While comparison can be a valuable source of motivation and growth, it can also cause you to develop self-doubt. Social media has become a significant way of comparing our lives to those around us. With social media exploding in popularity, we have access to continuous material to compare ourselves. Our attempts to keep up with the Joneses have moved beyond the neighborhood and onto the web. If you’re guilty of comparing yourself to others, this is why you should stop immediately.
It’s Damaging to Your Sense of Self
There’s a saying that goes, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and I agree. Watching my own martial arts students, children, and adults alike, I have found that comparing breeds envy, low self-confidence and compromises our ability to trust others. While downward comparison, or comparing ourselves to the less fortunate, can provide some benefit to one’s sense of self, even this form of comparison has a price. It requires that we take pleasure in someone else’s failures or misfortunes to feel adequate. When comparing leads, you to devalue yourself or others, you’ve entered dangerous territory.
It Doesn’t Help You Accomplish Your Goals
Pondering about how someone else has higher kicks, has more friends in class, or is more athletic than you are both ineffective and time-consuming. Being hard on ourselves zaps motivation and decreases goal completion. If you want to live a life that feels fulfilling, you need to dedicate your time and energy to your values. To get your focus in the right place, ask yourself these two questions: What kind of person do you want to be? What do you want people to remember about you? Use these personal values as a barometer upon which you compare rather than the accomplishments of those around you.
What You’re Comparing Yourself to is Inaccurate
What I learned from Facebook and Instagram are that people present to the outside world is usually an edited version of their reality. When someone asks you how you’re doing, do you say what you’re feeling or bite your tongue and say things are great? People are less likely to show their negative emotions than their positive feelings. Additionally, people tend to overestimate the presence of positivity in the lives of others, while they misinterpret or fail to detect negative feelings in others. So not only are you getting an incomplete picture, but we tend to distort the information we do receive. Next time you find yourself comparing to someone else, stop and ask yourself if it’s fair to compare when you don’t have the complete picture. I believe that we struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone’s highlight reel.
There Will Always Be Someone Better Than You at Something
When we’re little, most of us are taught that we’re good at everything and there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish. While we can do anything we put our mind to, there’s also another reality we have to accept. At some point in your life, someone will beat you to whatever it is that you’re after, whether it’s in your personal life, martial arts or even your work life. You can’t always win at everything in life. All you can do is work hard and try your best. Whatever is meant to be will fall into place for you at the right moment. While we’re waiting for our moment, we should clap for others and their achievements while patiently waiting for the day that they’ll clap for us.
Comparison Can Turn Friends into Enemies
One of the things that I learned while studying Taekwondo is that when our friends accomplish their goals, we should applaud them and be happy for them. We were told by our instructor to clap and cheer for each student after they completed their form, break or even sparring during our belt testing. In a perfect world, we would celebrate and genuinely enjoy the joys and accomplishments of others. Yet if we use others as a benchmark to evaluate ourselves, that creeping twinge of jealousy may undermine our ability to cherish the good things that come to others. Just remember: Over time, things may even out, and a friend’s success may enable them to support and make opportunities for others (including you). Instead of being jealous of our friends, we should be happy for them and wait until we reach our accomplishments. If they are our friends, they will be on our side, applauding us when we accomplish our goals.
Comparing ourselves to others is natural. In today’s world with social media, it’s easier than ever to compare our lives to the ones we see on Facebook or Instagram.
While comparing our lives to others can be a good source of motivation, it can also make us put ourselves down or make us feel like we’re not doing enough. However, there are so many hidden factors that we don’t see in people’s social media posts. They don’t give the complete picture of someone’s life, so what we’re comparing ourselves to is inaccurate.
For example, you may be jealous of your friend from high school who just got married and had a baby, but you don’t know the struggles she went through to get pregnant. You also don’t know that her husband verbally abuses her and talks down to her when no one is around. Instead of comparing our lives to others, we should be grateful for our journey.
About the author: Instructor Ma is a 3rd Degree Black Belt in the Korean self-defense art of Hapkido and a 2nd Dan in Traditional Taekwondo. She is a professional sports and fitness model and full-time Nursing student. She is the language, culture, and leadership development teacher for the World Martial Arts Congress. www.worldmartialartscongress.com