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.
452 thoughts on “A Life of Comparison”
Huge stuff to undo, but really worth to do it, which in fact is coming back to who we always were. .. not big stuff in the end, as this ‘huge’ gets reduced gradually by that choice of being anchored within ourselves again. Way back home full of understanding..
“The who I am matters far more than what I do.” The hamster wheel of comparison gets us nowhere and confines us to the individualism of never thinking we are enough.
“And of course, comparison always led to competitiveness.” They really do go together and I find it can be quite subtle at times. Thanks for your honest sharing on comparison, the more I look for comparison in myself to heal and clear it, the more I find. We are literally soaked in it because so much of life is about what we do or our outer achievements, and this occurs from a very early age. If we were all to stop and just feel our true inner being we would feel both the alike-ness of our inner essence, and the different way we each express that. Rather than it being a one-up competition, it could instead be an appreciation of our collective beauty. In our essence there is that deep contentment and a sense of being filled with ourselves, but in the comparison and competitiveness it’s a continual unrest, we can never feel settled because it can never deliver anything except very temporary relief from our inner emptiness.
“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.” Competition and achievements are empty and as a result, we can go into a repeating cycle of chasing more. It’s quite terrible really that this is how we develop children in home life and education to compare and compete, as once we label something as good we seem to then not question it or honestly look at the outcomes in the short and long term as to how comparison and competition affect our lives. Being the winner, the best, being good at something, etc, it’s still not being ourselves or being met for who we are.
I am sure many of us have felt this and so can relate with the sharing, I know I can, ‘Competition and achievements are empty and as a result, we can go into a repeating cycle of chasing more.’
Comparisons do lead to competitiveness this is so true and I am seeing this more and more even in really subtle ways. Both are evil and take us away from the truth of who we are and valuing and appreciating ourselves and others equally so.
Oh wow. I really get a sense of how comparison is many, many, many steps away from the science of reflection. We need another body to know who we are, but the energy of comparison abuses the constellation (= the placement of bodies) to locate and further ingrain us within this domain, which is all about individuality, and it needs the scale of good and bad to verify its autonomy.
Great comment Fumiyo and expansion on the conversation, that I you. Instead of receiving the reflection we internalise a dialogue of being less or more and in that we react, instead of the observation, inspiration, or learning on offer.
We are conditioned from the day we are asked as babies to smile, we learn how to modify our behaviour in order to fit into our family and then school. So is it any wonder we are all shut down and struggling as life has become an exercise of ticking the boxes and function. Who we truly are was left behind when young so it can take time to trust in ourselves again but so worth it when we do.
‘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.’ I can feel that this is a common way to be in society. I am enjoying more and more simply being me and living my natural qualities of gentleness, care and sensitivity, rather than trying to fit into living how I think I should – for example being sporty and adventurous which actually I never enjoyed and which always felt hard on my body.
“O,” to be or not to be, as it is not in the doing so it must be in the being or human-being and this is becoming obvious for some and oblivious for others! In that being we are connecting to our essences or our True Being-ness and in doing so we are re=connect to the Equal = Love we all come from, so in our True Being we do away with competition and its evil dwelling brothers comparison and jealousy.
‘Slowly it became less about what and how others saw me, and more about how I felt I wanted to be, for me.’ Finding our way back to ourselves can take a while but how beautiful it is when we give ourselves the space to feel what is true for us and not go along with anything for whatever reason.
We are brought up in comparison and competition the moment we arrive on the planet. It is built into everything that society stands for – we basically champion being at war with each other. And we wonder why we have never-ending wars.
I totally agree with you Jenny James. As a sales team we are told we are a team but every word expressed, how the salaries and compensation is set up, it’s all to out compete each other and actually the whole team is depressed about this after the initial excitement of trying something ‘new’. Because everyone has come to the understanding that you are only as good as your sales figures, and not at all valued for being you. Everyone can feel how false this is and it actually hurts.
What a great awareness and observation, ‘we basically champion being at war with each other. And we wonder why we have never-ending wars.’
All that time being in comparison is time away from being in relationship with ourselves and appreciating who we are. Such a great reminder for me today. Comparison is already a sign of disconnection to the self, a signal to come back, reconnect, feel, appreciate and express our essence.
Comparison is a sign that we are not with self, ‘All that time being in comparison is time away from being in relationship with ourselves and appreciating who we are.’
The competitiveness comes from an emptiness. We compete with others because that is the only way we can feel good about ourselves, by being better than others, or by being better than how we were yesterday/ the day before. But regardless of what it looks like on the outside, if we are stuck in the same energy, our state of being will not change. No matter how pink our roses are, if the soil is not looked after they will become rotten very quickly.
Having a connection with and knowing of our worth, not attached to our achievements but of the quality of who we are brings a settlement that truly supports in all areas and relationships in life.
It’s a beautiful way to live Fiona, honouring the quality of our being and what we bring to all we do. It’s putting life back into it’s rightful order, placing the essence of the person and the quality of energy we bring first.
The need to be someone or something in the world takes us away from who we are, and without who we are we miss to contribute to the world our true uniqueness, the particular expression no one else can offer and add to the bigger picture we are all part of, for all of us to receive the reflection we need to know ourselves in full. It is a tragedy, if not a strategy to grow up and become what we are not, it is a healing and returning to who we are what Universal Medicine and The Ageless Wisdom offer, knowing that we need to undo life, so that we can eventually start to live a true life.
As we let go of comparison and competition and any judgements we might have around them we feel more spacious and as we lovingly understand how we have allowed these ways to be a part of our lives – and maybe still do at times – we begin to honour the being inside and let that have more focus and grace begins to bestow it’s magic.
That insatiable craving for applause from external sources can indeed be addictive but ultimately always leaves us feeling empty on the inside.
“The who I am matters far more than what I do.” Absolutely. There is nothing more valuable or honouring of ourselves than simply to be who we are, and not have a need to be identified by what we do.
Who we are is more important than what we do, our essence and quality of energy are what truly matter.
Competing and being good at things is just one way to deal with the fact that our essence is not valued or seen, even actively rejected. There are so many ways on offer to be in society – nice, the rebel, in control, withdrawn etc – anything so long as you do not let out the sparkle of your essence and disrupt the status quo.
Comparison is the energy you put out attacking another by defence and protection – pretending you are less or better than the other. And covering up the mega sensitivity in us. Comparison is an expression of evil that is simply a cover up for our lack of worth and disempowerment of ourselves and the inability to make loving true choices… we not require anything else than unfoldment. All it asks of us is to simply be honest and loving. As comparison is the thief of joy on our way back to Soul. Something we need to definetaly stop doing.
I think there’s a lot to look at for myself here. Not truly appreciating who I am and that I am enough just as it is is a big one for me. I have also looked outside of me and still do to check how I need to be instead of listening inside what is asked of me.
I love how you write Suzanne. And I am lucky enough to work in a group with you and feel nothing but your amazingness – no competition, comparison, just you and your gorgeousness and how you are with your body and feeling what is needed, is inspiring. Thank you.
“. . . 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?” I love that question as it is one of the best medicine against being competitive or being in comparison.
Outdoing others is a pattern of movement of someone who has a self-worth issue and lacks settlement in the body.
Beautiful Suzanne. It is not bad though to look at others, but not to compare but to get inspired.
When we disconnect from our internal awesomeness nothing in this world can ever suffice.
The only way to beat the need to be competitive is to live and claim the awesomeness you truly are.
The list of things that we can compare ourselves against is endless and therefore we are on a constant conveyor belt of never feeling good enough – in any aspect. I’ve noticed that the more open we are to re-connect with our inner qualities, the more at ease we are with ourselves and others.
Comparing and competing is pushed to the nth degree in this temporal life as this is what keeps us all as individuals. Better house and gardens, bigger, faster car, higher paid job. Better trimmer fitter body, more beautiful clothes, the perfect boots . . . the list is endless until you stop one day and connect to who you truly are and then you realise that you have been played all along by an energy that wants to keep you yearning for something outside of yourself that will never satisfy as what we really yearn for is our own deep connection to Divinity.
Individualising ourself is always going to bring about competition and comparison. When we see ourselves as part of the whole and understand the responsibility that comes with that we no longer get caught in pitching ourselves against another.
It is shocking when starting to realize how many tricks we make as humanity to not feel anymore who we are and where we are truly from.
Brilliant article Suzanne. When we compare ourselves to others we lose sight of who we are and what is true for us. Comparison makes us blind to the things we most need to see.
What I can feel is how I was judging myself for actually being good at doing things. When I started to understand about how it is that the being mattered far more than the doing, and in that, I could not accept or appreciate myself and what I brought. There feels to be still a process of surrendering and accepting myself in essence that is under way.
The importance of feeling and living who I wanted to be is awesome to feel and know, and takes us away from the competitiveness the world thrives on in diminishing us all by not ever feeling enough. What a brilliant sharing and understanding and the start of living the love we are for ourselves, shining and connecting to our own inner beauty and love. “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” .
Doing so much but still feeling not enough and always wanting to keep doing more must be deeply exhausting but this is what most of the world has accepted as normal. Knowing how false competition and comparison is, some of us may have shyed away from committing to life feeling what’s the point, but withdrawal like competition is not the way either. So to simply feel and live from the heart, I have begun to understand how to live my own rhythm in a world which carries a collective but abusive rhythm and how to live harmoniously with each other.
When I feel I know I am enough. There are many things I don’t have but I feel enough. I am not seeking for them and I do not feel I am lacking anything. But my days are beautiful and full and joyful.
When what we do is constantly measured against another, this creates a pitting of one against another – there is no collaboration here, no joining of forces so to speak. Instead there is further divide that is fostered. We have enough divide in our society, what we need sorely is more unity and collaboration and letting go of our barriers so that we can work together and pool our qualities and hence learn and grow together. We have a long way to go to change this, but every little step matters.
“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.” – Our current society has such a huge focus on the doing rather than the being. However, we are human beings and not human doings. Have we perhaps forgotten 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?” No wonder I, and expect in truth most people in society if they are honest, have a certain level of insecurity at their core as all our education is geared towards competition, comparison and gaining knowledge gathered by others instead of being supported to trust and express one’s own innate knowing. We are in fact molded by education and society to confirm to a norm that is not ourselves, our true nature. The teachings of The Ageless Wisdom as presented by Serge Benhayon offer an alternative way free of this form of imposition with clarity and practicality.
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.
Comparison and competition are an intricate and complicated web, their tendrils are everywhere, as is the normality of it. What we miss out on with comparing ourselves and competing with others is seeing and experiencing the beauty of who we each are. When we believe we are worth what we do we scramble to achieve goals and be number one over others, when a literal treasure resides within us that we have disconnected from.
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.
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.
Competition and comparison fractures connection with ourselves and others.
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.
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.
‘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.
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)!
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.