People love comparisons. We compare ourselves to others, one person to another, or one situation/event to another. This can help us learn and grow, or it can hold us hostage, thwart our growth or call our character into question.
Comparing Yourself to Others:
Comparisons between yourself and others are seldom beneficial. These comparisons usually are made when you are wondering if you are strong enough, smart enough or pretty enough. You start looking around at others to see how you stack up. The problem is that you construct an image of what strong, smart and pretty is and then look for the people who fit your image, and you fail to see all the others who don’t meet your criteria. Using a subjective measure that you develop when questioning yourself is guaranteed to leave you feeling worse. As the inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant said, “Comparison is an act of violence against the self.”
It is possible to compare yourself to others constructively. Perhaps you want to develop a skill or trait. One way to do this is to look for someone who already exhibits that skill or trait and ask for advice. Learn from them. Most people would be flattered that you asked.
Comparisons between one person and another can also be either helpful or not. Far too often it is done from a mean spirit. Comparisons made for amusement or to make your self feel superior are a waste of time. They will not make you feel better for long, and they can seriously damage others perceptions of your character.
There are times, of course, when you want to compare people. This is election season, and elections are based on comparing people to decide which candidate you think would best serve your interests. Comparisons of job applicants are essential to the hiring process. Comparisons of suitors help determine which one you might marry. These comparisons differ in that they 1) have a legitimate purpose, and 2) they are based on objective criteria. They are useful.
Comparisons of situations or events typically take the form of metaphors and similes. They are a great way to aid understanding and get your point across, and they can be a lot of fun.
These comparisons can also be iffy and sometimes dangerous. When comparing to a historical event with significant emotions attached, it can be derail your message. For example, the Holocaust, 9/11 and slavery have deep-seated meaning for millions of people and comparing something to one of these may backfire. It turns the focus back on you instead of your point. It serves you well to think very long and hard before using an event such as these.
Basing your life on comparisons will not help you in your life journey unless approached with an open mind and good intent. Comparisons that hurt you or others are not good use of your time and energy.