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.

451 thoughts on “A Life of Comparison

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. ‘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.

  6. ‘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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. Wow! What a vicious cycle to be caught in, knowing that ‘doing’ wasn’t ‘it’ and left you empty but feeling the need to compete anyway. I suppose we grab the best that is on offer as a substitute for love and lose sight that true love is always within us if we would just stop chasing it outside ourselves.

  12. I get this feeling of ‘perpetual motion’ in your description of your competitive and comparison based life. No sooner have we achieved something, we are onto the next – no time to just be who we are. Appreciation of who we are is vital in my experience. The alternative would seem to be self-deprecation and my feeling is this does not serve us at all.

    1. Well said Richard. Perpetual motion is a great way to describe the unrelenting and insatiable process of comparison and competitiveness – and that there is never any space to stop and appreciate is the aim of the game.

  13. Comparison comes from an emptiness that constantly needs filling. But any filling is always in vain as that emptiness can only truly be filled by our own love.

  14. Super honest article Suzanne, loved it. And I pondered: how competitive am I? How do I compare? What is still clear is how much I compare myself, how I look at myself with regard to how much I do well, even at the cost of me, the beauty in me. Through the teachings of Serge Benhayon that I am applying in my life I know that value is never in what I do but only in who I am. And then living that, while the world is bombarding you with the opposite (you matter by your career, the grades you get etc), is the trick.

  15. ‘ This meant I lived in such a way that I never felt good enough, I could always do better or more. ‘ I have heard people often saying competition is healthy but I know I have lived what is expressed in this quote. I’ve crushed my appreciation of myself, my beauty, through looking to compare myself to others because I’ve felt insecure. I’ve tried to emulate others I think are doing something well but this breeds further insecurity. We are all unique and I can never do something in the way another does it. I bring my own unique and needed qualities to life that also cannot be emulated by others. So comparison and competition feeds insecurity which creates more comparison and so on. It is time to enjoy me for being me and others for who they are.

  16. Suzanne, great to appreciate where we have come from and the loving changes you have made to be more connected to yourself, comparison is a killer as it destroys relationships,and friendships because we are often arrogant enough to think that the other person doesn’t feel our comparison, when in truth they can feel it, and it hurts if we take that comparison on, I have found that the best thing to do is to just observe that it is happening.

  17. Today I held a puberty workshop with Year 7’s and part of the discussion was to not compare ourselves to others but instead appreciate ourselves for who we are …super important. We should all be taught this from young and live this to reflect to others .. it cuts out the trying, recognition, comparison, jealously and so much more. I am forever inspired by Universal Medicine.

  18. “The who I am matters far more than what I do” – feels the absolute truth and is simple – love it.

  19. Knowing that we are a being first and holding everyone in that fact totally knocks out comparison. Comparison can only exist when we make life about what we do and not who we are.

  20. ‘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.

  21. “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.

  22. “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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. ‘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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.”

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

  32. 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!

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. WOW what a turn around that is amazing to read and I love how it comes back to trusting yourself.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.”

  45. “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.

  46. 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.

  47. ‘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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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?’

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