A kid was proudly describing to two other kids on how his dad’s car is the best in the neighborhood. One of the two hearers cut him short and proved to him that the rich family living down the street has better car with good reasons. The kid became angry and sad at the same time.
Most times in life we hold on to certain things we have in life believing that they are the best. But from the moment a comparison is done with some other things and we find our own wanting, we (implicitly or explicitly) become sad about it. Worst of all, we start to become discontented with that which we have.
From the moment we put ourselves (or someone else does) on a scale with our colleagues, friends, or even strangers that we have not met, the feeling of inadequacy and redundancy comes in.
What if we are found better than the others? What will be our reaction? We even extend the comparison to our loved ones: spouse, kids, siblings.
NOTE: it is not wrong to compare yourself or what you have with others’. Comparison, most at times in life, can help us improve especially when we have certain benchmarks. What is wrong is unhealthy and unequal comparison.
Unequal comparison involves matching things that are not of the same level. You do not have to compare chapter ten of someone’s life and career with another person’s chapter two. One day, my neighbor decided to go on early morning jog with me. I have been consistent with early morning jog for at least a year and she is just starting. Her speed was quite sluggish for my liking but I was fully aware that I was so when I newly started jogging.
Unhealthy comparison is when the comparison of ourselves with others generate sadness, discontentment, and damages to our relationships. We could have both mental and physical health problems.
Two things to be aware of in the cases of unhealthy and unequal comparison are:
- We are unique and have different perspectives. These perspectives are what we are trying to compare and (of course) there must be discrepancies,
- Even things are similar in some ways, yet they may differ in levels. In such case, comparison will be between our chapter one and someone else’s chapter ten. We might not have reached their level or have passed through what they did to reach such height, yet we compare.
One ignored fact that causes relationship problems is when we start comparing ourselves, spouse, kids, parents, friends with the things we see on the streets and (worst of all) movies. Have you ever wished for the “Hollywood” type of love? When the comparison is done and (always) find our dad (not rich enough), kid (not smart enough), wife (not loving enough), friends (not friendly enough), sadness and wishes for something better come into play.