Rooting out our Comparative Tendencies
A word that all of us are familiar with in personal ways for certain. Comparison is one of the shadow aspects we learn at a really young age. There is of course the rather benign comparisons, like price or quality comparisons, which are good judgement skills to have. But then there are the more self sabotaging comparisons that lead us deeper into our own illusions and further from who we truly are. Modern culture feasts on these types of comparisons (who wore it better? who has more followers?) and we have all been subconsciously programmed to comparative thinking at one point or another.
Just from my own observations of my day-to-day I have witnessed three kinds of key comparisons that happen on the regular in my own life:
The kind that makes you feel not good enough
The kind that motivates you to do better
The kind that leads you to believe you are better than someone else
Let’s break them down a bit shall we?
The kind of comparison that makes one not feel so good about themselves is rooted in the shadow of inadequacy. We find that in comparison to those we measure ourselves up against we are lacking in some way. Maybe its intellect, a skill, money, or even the essence of someone else- we find what we have doesn’t seem as abundant as another. What inadequacy prevents us from doing though is quite damaging. It prevents us from recognizing our own genius, it can prevent us from slowing down to appreciate what all we do have, and it keeps us perpetually looping through limiting beliefs. In Richard Rudd’s The Gene Keys he points out that inadequacy is the inability to awaken to wisdom- because you never stay in one place long enough to allow the seeds you sow to grow and mature. So how can you remedy the feelings of inadequacy?
Examine who and what makes you feel inadequate and find the root of that discomfort. An example I think many of us can resonate with is that you admire someones beauty and in your comparison you think you are not as beautiful. At what point in your life were you made to question your beauty? What beauty standards do you hold to yourself and others? How can you nurture belief in your own beauty? And, how can you appreciate your beauty and the other persons beauty equally?
Blame no one for these feelings as feelings of inadequacy are self perpetuated and arise from within. Take ownership of this emotional response and you will be able to work more clearly through them.
Dig deep into where the inadequacy stings. Perhaps these feelings are actually sign posts towards where you should be focusing more deliberate attention and you have been ignoring. Often where we feel the most discomfort in life is where we should to tending to the garden most so take the time to dig into these aspects and discover how you can build your confidence from within.
The complete opposite pendulum swing from inadequacy is arrogance. The type of comparison that leads us to believe that we are better than someone else. Our little ego self loves this feeling for it makes you feel secure (though its an illusory security). A healthy dose of pride in ones abilities is one thing but when arrogance begins to take over we actually find ourselves on a slippery slope. Arrogance is like a big balloon that gets pumped up and eventually will become so large it will burst and the aftermath is often emotional instability and lack of faith in oneself. Not to mention that arrogance is the complete opposite of humility- which is a powerful quality to have. Humility is a gracious middle ground where fulfilling your purpose and knowing that there are others who express gifted qualities exist around you. This gives you that healthy dose of pride and also prevents that balloon from puffing up too far. Arrogance is the sign of an immature ego- one where it needs validation outside of itself, to be seen as the star, and has yet to learn how to be gracious in the situations where someone may know better or have more skills than they do. So how to remedy arrogance?
Fear is at the base of any shadow aspect and the only way to begin taking the power away is to name the root of that shadow. Do you rely on arrogance to ‘protect’ yourself from failure? feeling pathetic? being invisible? Explore how this root fear(s) lead you towards arrogance instead of humility.
Explore how arrogance has hurt relationships between you and others. Recall a time when you displayed arrogance and how did it actually make you feel? How do you think is affected the others around? Replay the experience where you don’t rely on arrogance- how would the situation differ?
Now there is the third kind of comparison that does actually motivate us to be healthy evolving humans. This comparison is where we neither feel below (inadequacy) or above (arrogance) anyone else and we use our comparative judgement skills as learning opportunities. Motivational comparison happens when you witness someone else applying themselves in a way that inspires you and you put your own unique spin on it. In my own experience the motivational comparison flourishes in areas of my life where I already feel confident and grounded in my skills or ability- these also typically are areas that I don’t seek outer validation for or desire the need for approval of any kind. All of our comparative thoughts can eventually come to this place of either it motivates you or you can roll the comparison off your back if it doesn’t truly apply to you.
Comparison is a natural tendency to the human experience and it isn’t one that will ever fully go away. We need comparison in some situations (re: prices & quality etc.) but so much of our energy goes towards comparing ourselves towards others which only dims our own magnificent light. Let’s all start being more self aware and create the shift where we can celebrate ourselves and others equally! Can you even imagine?! It is totally possible.
Perhaps you have witnessed or experienced comparison in a way I didn’t describe here, I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments!