Una's Blog


74 How do you compare?

graphic-6by Una Hearne.

It is in our nature as human beings, to compare ourselves to other people. We live in relation to others.

Observing how other people behave, what they have and what they achieve can galvanise us into learning, action and achievement for our own benefit. For example we can be influenced by another person’s character and develop our own kindness, leadership, professionalism etc. Or we can be motivated to go out and get something we see other people have or to try new things.

When we are inspired by comparison to improve our own quality of life – we benefit, and so do the people around us. More of this please!

We do need to be conscious of comparison. It can be destructive if we conclude that either ourselves, or other people, are inferior in some way. When we feel inferior or disadvantaged we feel bad and will often consequently think, speak and act in ways which lower our own quality of life significantly. And naturally, this affects everyone around us.

Equally, when we think of other people as inferior we cut ourselves off from the possibility of a good connection with them. Examples of the types of destructive behaviours I’m talking about include: bullying, manipulation, people pleasing, subservience, disengaging.

Frankly, comparison which makes us or other people feel bad is ridiculous, it does nobody any good. Let’s not be doing that!

I come across examples of destructive comparison all the time in my work. I offer the following random selection to stir your thinking – not in an attempt to be comprehensive in any way. Incidentally these are not examples of ‘how other people who need help’ think. These are examples of how we all think to some extent. (If you have never had any thoughts like any of these…. well, let me know!)

  • In a work context some people with great experience feel a lack of academic qualifications makes them less valuable; others with multiple degrees secretly feel inadequate for not having the right experience. The reality is everyone, EVERYONE, has value to offer. Why focus on what you haven’t got? Why not on the value you bring?
  • Some people believe background, ethnicity, gender, money, social class, religion or age makes some people less valuable than other. Simply not true.
  • Looking at other people and thinking ‘It’s alright for them!’ or ‘They have it all’ makes no sense. You only see a snapshot of other people and a tiny part of their life at most. You don’t know what is going on for them, in their heads, behind closed doors, in other areas of their life, in their past or in their future. Any more than they know what is going on for you. And nobody has it sorted all of the time, trust me.
  • Everyone finds different things stressful or difficult. Some people’s challenges are invisible to you, such as mental health issues, anxiety, confidence and relationship difficulties. Something that is tiny to you might be huge to the next person and vice versa.

It is often seductive to believe that we can’t achieve what we want, or find happiness and peace because of the circumstances of our particular life. If we believe that, we could be tempted to abdicate responsibility and give up to some extent. The truth is everyone has challenges in life. Everyone, including you, is required to do their best. Not our best by any outside measures, only by our own internal knowing. Taking responsibility for your own life is enormously empowering. No matter what results you get, no matter what you create in your life, if you have done your best, you have lived success-fully.


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