The Self-Destruction of Comparing Yourself to Others

This has been one of my biggest downfalls for years.

Comparing myself to others is something, at one point in time, I thought was healthy. Over time, however, I came to realize that it was just the opposite. Heck, it was downright toxic.

I’ve been in therapy for just over 20 years — something I’ve never been ashamed of, by the way — and among the challenges I’ve faced to become a more confident person, ridding myself of the habit of external comparison was right at the top of that list.

But even after all these years, that bad habit still rears its ugly head, so to speak.

For instance, I look at others in the stuttering community and get down on myself when I see more experienced, more respected people in said community accomplishing more, whether as a speaker, presenter, or simply just a prominent figure. It brings me down, which doesn’t surprise me.

So, why get into that mindset? I can just get out of thinking that way but sometimes, it’s much easier said than done.

Like any battle I’ve faced, whether it was an issue of confidence, handling my depression, and heck, even handling my stutter, it’s something that I’m likely going to deal with for the rest of my life.

That’s okay, though.

After all, with the help of therapy, I’ve gradually learn to handle it better. This transition has been the furthest thing from an overnight mix but hey, as the old adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Years ago, I kept comparing myself to a particular sportswriter. I looked at what he did, the attention he got, the quantity of followers he had on social media, and it destroyed me (albeit not permanently). Still, it had a negative effect on me emotionally, mentally, and even physically. I fixated on the situation so much, I was too exhausted to walk. No hyperbole. That is actually, I’m ashamed to admit, very accurate.

Slowly but surely, I got past that particular episode. As a result, I began writing with confidence again, finding myself a groove, and just doing what I enjoyed doing without considering what he, or anyone else, did. However, I’m not out of the woods when it comes to the bad habit of comparing myself to others.

I will continue to push through and find ways to focus more on myself and what I have accomplished instead of looking outward. That’s a promise. However, again, that has been, and is, the furthest thing from an overnight fix.

So, if you are someone who is, or has been, in the habit of comparing myself to others, find ways to get out of that. Whether it’s finding reminders of how much you mean to others and of your achievements — however big or small you think they are. But take it one day at a time and don’t put pressure on yourself to set a deadline. If it takes you a few days, that’s okay; if it takes you a few years, that’s okay, too. Just be sure to keep a healthy focus on who you are and what you’re capable of.

After all, as former US President Theordore Roosevelt, once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

Trust me. I know.

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