It’s often said that success is in the eye of the beholder. I would argue that the same goes for failure. Failure, like success, is relative. Each and every one of us, at some point, has experienced that horrible thought of ‘I’m not good enough’. That disempowering thought is the result of comparing yourself to others. Those comparisons are neither helpful nor important.
This pattern of comparing ourselves to others is a soul destroying habit that we have to stop. It’s quite ludicrous when you pause to think about it. You’re smart enough to know that each of us has a different yardstick for success. Yet you still repeatedly fall into the trap of looking at someone else’s accomplishments to see if you measure up.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. This urge to compare and evaluate ourselves against others seems to be genetically hard wired into our homo sapien DNA. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. What I’ve realised though is that we have a habit of comparing only one sliver of our lives to others, adopting a very narrow perspective while blissfully ignoring the bigger picture.
When you compare yourself only in one area – your career for example – you’re comparing yourself unfairly. Step back to see the bigger picture, and you’ll realise that the other person chose to trade off other areas in her life for her career. Trade offs that you’re not willing to make. Funnily enough, that person is probably also comparing herself to you in a different area – your family life for example – and envying you for the time you have for your family.
I find it helpful to remember the phrase ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ whenever I catch myself in unhealthy comparisons. The phrase initially coined by the Roman poet Lucretius serves to remind us that what one person values, another may consider worthless.
If you do want to compare yourself, do yourself a favour and look at all aspects of your life against someone else’s. You may realise you’re more successful than you think based on your own yardstick.