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.

386 thoughts on “A Life of Comparison

  1. Great blog Suzanne, very supportive and easy to relate to because many if not all of us have experienced comparison in our lives. Comparison creates tension and drives relationships apart because of the competitiveness and separative nature of this behavior. It comes in many forms, some are sinister and very obvious, and some are very subtle and unnoticeable which often leads us to think it is pretty normal. But when we connect to how we feel and what our body communicates to us, any form of comparison feels awful, unloving and vile. Letting go of comparison frees us up to express who we are and our natural loving ways.

  2. Sometimes I feel comparison is good, in the sense of it inspiring me to be more. For example I may compare myself to Natalie or Simone Benhayon because I am blown away by the level of love, commitment, purpose and responsibility they bring to humanity, how they approach life and the vast amount of work they do.

  3. What a beautiful, honest piece of writing. Thank you Suzanne. This line – “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?” – really struck me. Mainly because it was so honest and then because you then gave yourself such understanding and then grace to proceed to slowly feel for yourself. It is when we question, we gain the answers.

  4. I actually feel comparison is quite evil, because when we start to compare ourselves to others we completely undermine our own abilities and want to be like, look like, etc. While we are in this spiral we seem to forgot that we as individuals are unique and therefore have our own uniqueness to bring to the world. I’m just discovering this for myself that what I bring is unique to me and no less important than anyone else. We are all part of the jigsaw puzzle and we need everyone in order to complete it.

  5. It is great you have come to feel and realise that it matters far more who you are than what you do. I think this can be a big one for everyone. From experience I know if we base our lives on not who we truly are but what we ‘do’ no matter how much we do there is still an absolute feeling of emptiness. True connection is the key with ourselves, others and the universe and Universal Medicine have shown many many people including myself the truth regarding of this.

  6. Comparing ourselves in any way to someone else takes us away from the settled and steady feeling we have in our bodies. It literally upsets us and puts us on edge and in this state we can be swayed further from the truth of who we are. We can mask this feeling quite easily but as we grow more honest we see it is undeniably there.

  7. Beautiful Suzanne, ‘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 have been feeling this lately too, I am feeling more content and accepting of who I am and thinking less about how others are and trying to be like them, it feels lovely to have this self acceptance and love for myself and means that I am looking less outside of myself for how to be and connecting more to within to who I truly am.

  8. I am the youngest of three girls and I constantly was in comparison, never feeling that I was enough and that whatever my sisters had I was trying to meet or do better to make me feel worthy. Still, to this day I can see how this laces my life and I am realising how deeply seeded this comparison really is; layers and layers, but until I heal my self-worth issues nothing will ever really change.

  9. Suzanne this is a great point here – “The problem with doing this, is that everything I then did was scored against what another is, or had done.” – this is the way our society and our world is set up, as a form of comparison and constantly so. Our world is not set up to inspire and to support each other to grow, but instead is configured to pit one against another under the guise of spurring us on. But competition in itself is not healthy and does not foster unity which sorely lacks in our world. Hence as you have presented, connection with self is what develops the strengths that we hold within, to share with the world in an inspiring way, to lift and support others to feel it from within themselves too.

  10. Competiton always asks us to do better or more. It never asks us the true energetic quality of what we are doing. Competition gives us a peak experience – peak in the sense of a super high that has been achieved, but then we come crashing down. Or, if we come second, it is a reverse peak where we feel we have failed. Imaging training for 1 whole year to run a 100 m race and to come second (and have ‘failed’) – because you were 0.04 seconds behind the first runner…And yet without the other person you would have been heralded as the winner, the ‘best’. Yet what is the quality that you have allowed in your body – what did you have to put your body through in order to pursue this end result?
    Those activities and things that we do that grow us come from the things that care deeply for ourselves and as a result inspire others to do like wise. Whereas those activities and things that we do that are done from a recognition, a need and a want to be seen in some way are not done to inspire another though they might be disguised as such. There is much for us to explore in this, and learn and grow!

  11. As soon as we wager or pitch ourselves against another we actually need to be asking – ‘what am I not appreciating about myself that I want to compare my uniqueness with another?’

  12. I’ve been pretty much insecure all my life – since feeling hurt for not being seen for who I was. So I went for what I considered was the next best thing – recognition but it wasn’t at all because I gave up on me and went all out for how I would be seen by others to the point where last week I realised the extent to which I’ve made this my reality. I realised that I forgo the reading of events from all angles and choose to see it only from how I think another sees it with the aim of getting how they receive/perceive me so I know whether I have to do something to confirm what they think or prove I’m ok. This may have been a protective measure of trying to avoid hurt, trying to survive and be liked/deemed invaluable so that I would get the job, have the friend, the companionship, not be abandoned but this way of living has been very damaging to my health.

    My life has not been about being and surrendering to me when I have believed another’s perspective is more important so that I think I can ensure my survival – talk about giving my power away! I’ve been living on nervous energy and even, at times, fear. This constant low grade stress is an attack on my body. So I’ve chosen to come back to reading situations without judgement – no-one is right or wrong just choosing different energies. The reading honestly factors in my responsibility in the exchange of energies/ interactions. My readings are 100% valid and I’m not ignoring them in favour of just seeing myself as I imagine another sees me. I’m also appreciating myself from who I am and understanding that the great things I do do aren’t things I actually own so I can’t take credit for them anyways – the biggest lie I’ve lived by is thinking that anything genius that’s come through me was my doing – I just choose whether I would be with God or not. I am a vehicle for His expression – and when I’m not I’m equally a vehicle for expressing all that is harmful which is much of what I have been doing.

  13. ‘I could always do better or more.’

    ‘Whilst my achievements were great, I knew there were others who still achieved more, so I never felt good enough.’

    And there we have the mantras that drive so many of us – there’s always more to do in order to get the recognition we crave. Like you Suzanne it’s been my involvement with Universal Medicine that’s shifted the way I do life enormously. Mind you, it’s taken over a decade to get this far, with more to go. I’m learning slowly but steadily that it’s all about the quality of our being first, and the doing second.

  14. I had not yet clicked onto the insidious way we get undermined by the vicious achievement cycle in that what we achieve and do well we actively feed and build, and what we don’t do well we give up on. The problem is that when we give up on anything it stays with us knawing away and destabilising us because in that giving up you abandon apart of yourself and you give up on your potential.

  15. “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.”These are very good points about comparison. It seems like an addiction to me.

  16. Well written Suzanne. You could write a book on this the more you let go of and the beautiful detail and depth you go to and reach. A lesson for us all .. “Slowly it became less about what and how others saw me, and more about how I felt I wanted to be, for me.”
    “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.”

  17. I love how you said that as you became more aware of the comparison and competition that you then started to change the way in which you did things not to out-do another but to do things in a way that felt true from you, without the need for recognition.

  18. It’s a massive game isn’t it? The game we play in life. There are many ways we can think, act, achieve, dress and speak but what is this game all about? This is part of the game, my game in life. Look around and see how to fit in, at what level. We are constantly saying and seeing that we are victims of life, someone has done this to us but from what we can see here our hand is very active even as this ‘victim’. Next time we are in a conversation with someone listen to your thoughts, are they loud and telling you what you are thinking or are we actually simply listening to the person in front of us, allowing them the space and grace to talk and then responding we you can see they are finished. Then as you speak watch and see if you are adding or building on what they have truly said or do you make the conversation about what you did. We add to these things in every step or we unlock them further if we choose our walk.

  19. As I read this I can feel how much competition still owns me. I am constantly measuring my worth based on how others respond to me and how I measure up in comparison to them. It is exhausting and diminishing of myself and others. I did not realise how insidious this is and how it comes in when I leave a gap of not having appreciated myself.

  20. It is horrible how much we keep ourselves busy and with that, tense and constantly anxious in comparison to each other and yet it is something we deem normal in this world. To learn to appreciate oneself is something we all benefit greatly from and which will, step by step, take us out of the pit of competing and comparing.

  21. Thank you Suzanne. This blog reminds me how exhausting and harmful it is to compare ourselves to others. When we choose to do what is true for us life becomes simple and joyful.

  22. It shows that whether we are successful or not in terms of the way society defines it, either way it means nothing because a person will keep on craving more of whatever they have to give them self-worth…which is impossible because our worth comes not from what we do (or don’t do).

  23. When in disconnection to our soul, we seek high and low for that which will give us some sort of confirmation that we are somewhat worthy but this is the illusion as this is short lived and it is only through our constant living from an open heart that we can know ourselves as the true sons of God that we are.

  24. One of the worst things I found about being competitive is how we encourage others to get drawn into our competitiveness, and we end up competing in everything, down to the most stupid things such as how we make a meal, or clean our home. So even when someone doesn’t want to compete there is always another wanting to measure up. I guess this is why the reflection of appreciating oneself and others is so powerful, as it is supporting others to feel good about themselves just as they are not in comparison with what others do.

  25. With your beautiful description of comparison, Suzanne, one further aspect of comparison came up, which is when we are identified with an outcome we immediately bring in comparison as we want things to be a particular way, compare them to our ideal and get affected if things don’t conform to that ideal in full.

  26. What I love about these blog sites is the subjects that a written about are so universal and relatable. I have found it very challenging to build a relationship with myself on what I feel is right for me after a lifetime of avoiding it. I have always wanted a guide, on some level, when I was younger it was my boyfriends and friends. I would like what they liked, dress how they dressed, eat what they ate, anything to stop me from having to make so many decisions, plus I wanted to be liked but there was a comparison under pinning it all. Using food as an example, in the past if my boyfriend ordered a fish of the day when we went out for dinner and I ordered a curry because I was “trying to make my own choices” I would compare my meal to his, wish I had the fish. That happened a few times before I just begun to order the same thing that my boyfriend had so I wouldn’t compare or get jealous. The problem with this is, you are making choices from fear of regret and everything in life is seen through a comparison coloured glasses and nothing is done from a place of connection to what is needed for you. Universal Medicine presents that the most important relationship is first with you and everything else is an extension of that.

  27. It’s very common for us not to trust ourselves because we have for so long relied on things outside ourselves and other peoples advice or influence. When we become more honest about what is really going on and look underneath our behaviours, and let old habits go by the wayside, we can connect to who we are underneath all of that, then we begin to trust ourselves and really begin to live our own lives.

  28. I used to use comparison and competition big time when I needed to clean and tidy my house so it looked ‘good’ and it was up to scratch when visitors arrived. I thought competitiveness gave me energy, but the energy was at the expense of my body, because I was just using nervous energy to get anything done. My house would have felt terrible and my lack of self worth very imposing for my visitors. But then I didn’t think they would feel it!

  29. Making way for things that really do matter… such as just being you. I love the simplicity of this and how inclusive it is.

  30. Suzanne you hit the nail on the head when you talk about trusting yourself and knowing that you matter. This changes the relationship we have with ourselves and then how we relate to others.

  31. Thank you Suzanne for a great article on comparison, I would have thought at one time that as a high achiever you had it all, and to read that after all your achieving you were still feeling not good enough, such is the emptiness of living life outside of the body in comparison to all others.

    “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.”

  32. This deliberate misinformation that is spewed out by much of the print media is a lesson for us all to be aware of the messages we are giving out when we indulge in gossip.

  33. ‘Who we are from within” absolutely matters far more than what we ‘do’. How simple would it be to live this truth if we started young? As adults we might need some very loving and understanding for ourselves as we clear away the imposition that we are laced with, but for babies, toddlers and children we can support their appreciation of themselves from their essence now, confirming who they are that is amazing not the things that they do.

  34. What a beautiful understanding and sharing of the evils of comparison in keeping us from appreciating and simply being the love and beauty we innately are and the joy of living this.

  35. Comparison can be the main drive behind our movements if we find ourselves in the upper part of the comparative scale. Yet, there is no truth in comparison therefore neither in the movements of those that move in comparison.

  36. Comparison is a trap that hinders our ability to truly appreciate ourselves and others for the reflection that they offer us in order to be inspired and be more of the love that we truly are.

  37. It is easy to see how we start to look for recognition from young and then judge ourselves on these pictures we build up to have all the answers to life. I used to do this with dieting, exercise, housekeeping, my children – the list is endless. If we are not careful and see the game for what it is ‘separation’, then we will easily become a slave to wanting the recognition from others, instead of building a loving relationship with ourselves first.

  38. “The who I am matters far more than what I do” . . . this is great for us all to remember for in this world we can so easily get caught up in the what we do = who we are, lie. . . for it is a lie as we are much more magnificent than anything that we do! Our beingness goes far deeper than we can even imagine.

  39. “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.” this is so true, and the fact that we live life with a false foundation we then assume everything about others and therefore our need to compare, it is all an illusion which can be dismantled just by being in appreciation of who we are and receiving others reflection as a constant inspiration to always be more.

  40. ‘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.’ This is great wisdom Suzanne and many people could benefit from your sharing. Competitiveness is like an addiction that separates us from being who we truly are so the steps you took to heal this are very inspiring and supportive to read.

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