A Life of Comparison

 by Suzanne Anderssen, Brisbane, Australia 

When I was a little girl, it became clear to me that the more I did and achieved, the more people noticed, rewarded, accepted and applauded me. So of course, I then set out to achieve more – to be the best at pretty much anything I set my mind to.

And this actually was pretty easy, as I got great school grades without really trying and was quite athletic, so I was pretty much better than everyone else at everything I did. Anything I didn’t perform well at, I gave up! 

The problem with doing this, is that everything I then did was scored against what another is, or had done. Any measure of my own worth or value (which I determined by my ability to do stuff) was externally gained, as I compared myself to others – boys, girls, men, and women.

As I got older, the comparisons never let up. There was pretty much nothing that I didn’t compare myself to, be it sporting prowess, academic studies, body shape, hairstyles, makeup, how many friends I had, boyfriends, how tanned I was, how fast I read a book, my job, what my wedding dress looked like, how healthy my baby was… the list was endless.

And of course, comparison always led to competiveness. This meant I lived in such a way that I never felt good enough, I could always do better or more. The accolades for scoring highly were awesome for about five minutes, but then time moved on and there was something else that could be done. I never even really celebrated much.

The thing though, was that doing well – although easy – was always empty. When I was congratulated for achieving, I was polite and said ‘thank you’, but really what I was feeling was “what’s the big deal?”. Whilst my achievements were great, I knew there were others who still achieved more, so I never felt good enough. Oddly though, whilst I craved doing well, I just knew it wasn’t truly important, and yet the competitiveness was still there. I could never just be happy with my efforts. I knew that I had performed well, but so what? This feeling only made me keep comparing and looking out to what others do, as I thought the reason I didn’t feel so great when I had done well, meant that I wasn’t even doing well enough! I even used to think that maybe I wasn’t performing at the ‘right’ things, or that there were more important things to be good at. I put so much mental effort into comparisons and making certain I did well, and yet what good did it do if I never appreciated my efforts?

Through my early thirties, my competitiveness with the big, external things, such as who won Wimbledon, waned. I couldn’t care less. Great! I had lost my competitive ‘edge’ I thought, but the internal comparisons never silenced. I came to realise that it was these internal comparisons that were far more insidious than caring about a particular sporting team. Every time I pit myself against another, I felt nervous. I had a tense, butterflies-like feeling in my stomach quite constantly. I started to feel how harming this was to me.

When I found my way to the teachings of Universal Medicine, I became so much more aware of the need I had always had to compare myself. I realised I had made my life all about what I thought the world wanted of me, and not that I was fundamentally great just being me. That realisation was slow to come. I was re-learning a different, more natural way to live that was based on how one does everything, how it feels in the body. In the beginning though, this knowledge of how to live gently became yet another field to compare myself with and compete against others. Two steps forward, one step back!

It all fell apart when I was asked to feel for myself. Immediately, I looked outside to see what everyone else was feeling so I could compare it with me – and came up with nothing! Eventually I asked myself this: if I’ve spent a lifetime watching how everyone else does it first, and then modifying my behaviour to fit in and exceed, how would I even be able to feel clearly for myself? My body had been shut down for so long that it has been (and still is) a long process to trust in me. But with this trust, I can then do, in a way that feels right for me – and not because I am trying to outdo someone else.

Slowly it became less about what and how others saw me, and more about how I felt I wanted to be, for me. My outlook changed and the need to compare has slowly fallen away. This took the pressure off for the first time in my life.

I’ve realised, with a lot of time and patience, that who I am is awesome, and is perfect for where I need to be. The who I am matters far more than what I do. As I master my competitive spirit, the genuine love I have for myself increases and leaves more room in my body for the things that do really matter.

414 thoughts on “A Life of Comparison

  1. I really appreciate you writing this as I relate to it so much. My competitive spirit has been there since I was twelve at least – perhaps there a long time prior too. It feels so unloving, has no care or consideration of people’s true worth and only sees other’s through combative filters. Inside I know it stems from insecurity – a defence against feeling the hurt I felt when my expression was shut down by a few growing up. I then judged the whole world as unaccepting of me and used examples that fit this belief as evidence and ignored times when people supported my true expression. To feel safe I tried to be the best – I’d seen how those who excelled were revered and left alone, not picked on.

    With this understanding I don’t have to beat myself up for being competitive, just allow myself to feel delicate and vulnerable. I don’t have to fight for my right to exist but simply be. If someone else is better than me I will still exist! I may even enjoy enjoying their skills. If I’m the bottom of the class, I will still be, not just valid but amazing. The key is to clock if I can feel the ugliness of competition rise in me, feel it’s not me but a force I use to defend myself, and let it go and feel that life is absolutely fine when I’m me and not beyond perfect!

  2. The competitiveness you share here is everywhere in the world, it is that we have accepted this as part of life and even see it as healthy. But as you share its harming effect is seen by the simple fact that it puts us constantly under pressure to be in a certain way and never lets us just be.

  3. As the beauty reveals the driven spirit within us, it exposes the loveless behavior and allow us to experience genuine love that is inside us that is naturally unstoppable comin out.. Which indeed leaves space in our body to hold this genuine love as our foundation. Thank you Suzanne.. Insightful piece with responsibility to our own behaviors.

  4. Comparing with another is so ingrained that we do not even know it’s not normal, but if we allow ourselves to feel the devastation of this, we know it is absolutely abnormal. When we have chosen love to be the way to express, whenever jealousy and comparison come in they feel so out of place that it is just very easy to recognise. There is nothing to be afraid of though, if we are aware of it being out of place, we can claim the truth of ourselves that we know we can be as a woman or man of truth and love.

  5. ‘It all fell apart when I was asked to feel for myself. Immediately, I looked outside to see what everyone else was feeling so I could compare it with me – and came up with nothing!’ I remember a time in my life when I didn’t know how I felt because I had deferred to others for so long. Re-connecting to me and my feelings and making choices based on how I feel, not what others are say or do was a turning point and now my foundation.

  6. ‘who I am matters far more than what I do’. And when we connect to our true self and commit to loving ourselves, the quality of what we do and offer others deepens.

  7. Appreciating what we bring in life builds a solid foundation for self-worth that can withstand any experience. When I find myself wobbling, I will wonder what it is about myself I am not appreciating and inevitably my shoulders go down and my breathing steadies. It is such a physical experience.

  8. My school reports often said ‘could do better if she tried’, although I was always trying to do better anyway. This set up a lifetime habit of constantly trying to improve myself. I never felt good enough, so comparing with everyone around me set me up for failure. It was a revelation to attend Universal Medicine presentations and discover it is who we are not what we do that is important. And we are all amazing beings. When we live from our heart, not our head, amazing things can happen in life

  9. The comparison with others is so insidious and incredibly harmful to our body. By stopping and feeling my body if I feel any comparison trying to sneak in, I have come to know that it feels absolutely horrible and that makes sense, as it is not a natural part of who we are. But if we simply allow ourselves to observe another, bringing understanding to our observations, there is no space for comparison and we may even be inspired by them instead. At these moments in time the feeling in my body is still and settled; a most natural feeling.

  10. It’s rare that something someone does or achieves stays with us, but who someone is can deeply touch us and inspire us for life. Thank you Suzanne for the honest way you have shared the realities of comparison.

  11. On reading this I could feel/remember in my body when I was younger, that I did exactly the same thing and Oh My Goodness I completely forgot I did this. ‘if I’ve spent a lifetime watching how everyone else does it first, and then modifying my behaviour to fit in and exceed, how would I even be able to feel clearly for myself?’ which was instead of feeling for myself, I got into a pattern of first looking outside to what other people were doing, feeling, behaving so I could then ‘fit’ in, completely disconnecting from the innate knowing and feeling within. In fact I actually thought I was stupid because I didn’t know or could not feel! Where in reality it was not that I was stupid, but just completely numbed from feeling me, or allowing to feel the truth of what I felt and express this. What astounds me is that I can still feel a bit of this energy is there (at play)!

  12. ‘My body had been shut down for so long that it has been (and still is) a long process to trust in me.’ What this really means is that we do not have a relationship with ourselves, we have let ourselves be lived by other people or by ideals and beliefs that have charge over our thinking or the way we move. We have to reclaim this connection with ourselves before we can truly be lived, that is, by Divinity.

  13. Comparison is such a norrow way of living, we can see it as being a positive but in a twisted way we are asking us to be more and we push ourselves to try and bet or out do someone. But really can’t be more if we don’t already think we are enough to start with as this will be our underlying issue. When we truly start to feel and appreciate that we are awesome just the way we are and no need to prove this to anyone, because if we do that instantly reduced the awesomeness we are.

  14. This blog is a beautiful expose of a trail of separation from who we truly are when we feel we do not measure up to the pictures and ideals of the world. What is so inspiring is that the trail back is through the appreciation of who we are, rather than what we do, which is the path of return rather than improving ourselves. We hold competition and evaluation of our efforts as such a natural thing to do in life and yet comparison is the killer to appreciating ourselves and others.

  15. Suzanne, this turnaround is very gorgeous to read about; ‘I was re-learning a different, more natural way to live that was based on how one does everything, how it feels in the body.’ This feels so simple and joyful and very different to the constant comparing and never feeling good enough. Competition and comparison is huge in our society and causes a lot of separation and lack of self worth and is not a loving, unified way for us to live together.

  16. Suzanne, this is so simple but so important; ‘The who I am matters far more than what I do’. In society it seems to be all about what we do rather than our qualities, at school we are awarded for academic success, not for being amazing just for being us, this focus on ‘doing’ is unhealthy and leaves us empty and non confident. Beautiful that your love for yourself is now increasing.

  17. Reading this I remembered in secondary school Year 7 and 8 there was this silent competition and comparison with a few of us about how neat and lovely we could write!!!! This got me so much that my writing/expression became … well not me! Now my writing is the complete opposite and really messy and scrawly unless I know someone needs to read something I have written and then I make a bit more of an effort so it is readable 😶 This highlights to me there are just so many ways and areas in our life we compare ourselves to others and the problem is when we do this we never truly appreciate ourselves and our own uniqueness with what we bring.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s