Comparing yourself to others is an inevitable evil in life and yet an avoidable one. And, for our own sake, we must avoid it.
It’s easy to be a big fish in a small pond. A moderately attractive young woman in an 18th-century hamlet could think herself a goddess. In this day and age, such delusions of grandeur, for better or worse, are no longer possible.
The vast majority of us now feel like small fish in a vast ocean of people. We’re now seeing more of the world, in its human form, than ever before. Everywhere we turn there are fish, bigger and smaller, to compare ourselves to.
There’s nothing quite so gutting as having at last found a little confidence in your own talents, attractiveness or individuality, and then stumbling upon a person who seems to be everything you are, just better. And then there are the people who are what you are not and can never be.
*A moment of silence for the silent suffering of us all when we come across one of those…*
But you have to let go. You have to accept it and move on with your life. There’s no point in pining over what was never yours and is never to be yours. Your journey is your own, your experience is unique. You’re here because after billions of years of fighting for survival through evolution, you, in the form that you are, have willed yourself into existence.
It’s inevitable, that in this world of infinite diversity, springing up constantly and eternally, no one can stay at the top for long. Whether you’re a nobody or a real somebody, there will always come along someone who is better than you. This is crushing when you’re thinking in terms of measuring your own value against that of others.
The envy you feel for people can lead to hatred, of both the intruder on your happiness and of yourself for what you feel you lack in comparison.
If you start thinking in terms of your own expression of your individuality alone, that which no one else can have, you’ll stop suffering unnecessarily:
Stop feeling insecure and envious
When you love two musicians, whether they are similar or totally different, you wouldn’t compare the two, choose the best, and then forsake the other completely. You want the variety. Both are equally valuable to you in their own way. So why should you do that to yourself? Why should you think yourself unworthy because someone else is worthy?
Stop being a pale imitation of someone else
Once you cease to be imprisoned in a world of sideways glances at others and of feeling defeated at every turn, you’ll start expressing yourself more authentically. You are something unique. The best you can do for yourself is to recognise that. Then you can stop wasting your time thinking about what you lack in comparison to others. Begin to understand what you alone have to offer.
As Terrence McKenna so memorably said:
‘You need to reclaim your mind… Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears.’
Stop having superficial relationships
We all know that taste, in food, in music, in literature, in art, in lovers, and in friends is a subjective matter. Those who are inclined to like you will like you the better for being yourself. Imitation can sometimes captivate for a short time, but deeper relationships are based on authentic expression of what you really are.
Of course, you should try to express the best version of yourself. Never give in to the temptation to be stubbornly stuck in your own ways because you want to be ‘true to yourself’ all the time. Relationships are also maintained by a deep respect for the individuality of others.
My point is that, by being the best version of yourself, rather than trying to imitate the best version of someone else, you’re more likely to have real and fulfilling relationships.
Stop being taken in by illusions about others
Even if you’re not able to summon up the strength to feel compassion for those you perceive as better than you, you must concede that everyone is suffering in their own way. And even the most seemingly blessed of us suffer from the same feelings of insecurity and incompleteness as the rest.
Don’t be deceived by your own illusions of other people’s happiness and be tempted to deify them in your own mind. People rarely wear their suffering on their sleeves. We’re all deceiving each other as to how we really feel.
No one wants others to see the things that make them insecure.
All in all, the lesson is to withdraw your gaze from what’s going on to the left and to the right of you and raise your eyes upwards to what you alone can make of your own journey through life. You’ll feel better for it, that’s a promise.
Do you compare yourself to others? Do you think you would feel better if you stopped, or do you think it is a good thing?
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