What good are comparisons?
A comparison is defined as the act or instance of comparing – matching two things, or people, or events against each other to find their similarities and differences…but in our current society, comparisons are often used as a weapon.
Pop star Girl A is more popular, sells more albums, and received a better record deal than Pop star Girl B. Man A is stronger and can lift more than Man B. Family A has a bigger, prettier house and more cars than Family B.
Sometimes comparison can be useful and productive – when I was growing up, my parents often compared our house and yard to others in the neighborhood. They wanted to inspire us by seeing what our neighbors had done to make their property look better – like planting flowers, cutting the bushes on a regular basis, and raking the leaves from the grass in the fall.
It wasn’t a negative comparison – more about what was possible, and even probably if we put in the work.
Negative comparisons – using someone else’s accomplishments to tear down another person’s self-esteem and self-confidence – don’t do anyone any good. Comparing two people with disparate backgrounds, educational levels and personal financial wealth can be incredibly painful and destructive. That is the hallmark of unrealistic comparisons – they don’t lift people up, they tear them down.
If I compared myself to Oprah Winfrey, for example, I’d come up short in every objective criteria – I have much less wealth, I am hardly known compared to her, and it could definiitely be argued she’s got the better wardrobe – LOL.
To continue that kind of unrealistic comparison long enough and often enough could make me dislike my “station in life” and perhaps even feel as if there’s no point to trying to succeed. This is NOT the way that comparisons can do any good – and they certainly CAN do good.
I am inspired by the victories of others, and by letting go of unrealistic comparisons, I can enjoy their accomplishments and spur myself on to accomplishments of my own.
Instead of comparing myself unfavorably to Oprah, I could use her life’s journey to help propel me forward. She continues to reinvent herself and build her brand – even after most people would say she’s done enough, earned enough for several lifetimes. She continues to push her own boundaries, learn more, and she follows the promptings of her heart and her spirit with regard to her business activities.
THAT I can compare myself to and check in to see if I’m following my heart and my spirit. Am I working on projects that fire me up and energize me for the day? Am I using the assets I have to expand my footprint in my local community and do good?
Realistic comparisons – choosing to compare yourself to someone who is doing good work in an area you are interested in, and has a similar background, can help push you toward greater achievements, and help you to feel better when you stretch and grow and make things happen.