The Tyranny of Comparisons


"We live under the tyranny of competitive comparisons; today, to be is to be better than someone else." Miroslav Volf

To whom do you regularly compare yourself?

I don't mean which celebrity makes you wish you spent more time at the gym or which entrepreneur makes you want to quit your job, but who is that gets under your skin and leaves you feeling less than adequate in your daily life?

Maybe it's the buttoned-up mom you chat with at the bus stop or the dad who always is taking his kids on adventures. Perhaps it's the friend on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram who is perfectly witty/photogenic/engaging.  Or maybe you struggle with the people in the office who always seem a step or two in front of you despite your best efforts to win.

With subtle, sideways glances, to whom are you comparing yourself? Who do you want to beat? In the dark edges of your mind, who are you hoping will fail?

In a political sense, tyranny is a ruler who is cruel and oppressive.  However, when we live our lives comparing and competing with others, we are creating our own tyranny; the cruelty and oppression is a self-inflicted state.

We misplace our energy and destroy our ability to live freely.

Instead of giving our best thoughts to creative thinking and  joyful celebrations, we plot against others and see other people's wins as some sort of diminishing of our own potential.

What a waste. Life is not a comparison game.

You are worth celebrating regardless of your win/loss record. You are worthy of love regardless of how much you disappoint yourself. You are beautifully and wonderfully made precisely because you are incomparable to others.

This week, decide to step off out of the competitive landscape.

For me, this means taking two practical steps towards breaking bad comparison habits.

The first is to filter what you see.  If social media bragging spins you around; if you're unable to see past the facade of posts, stop looking.  Hide people, unsubscribe, stop following those who consistently push your buttons.  There's no reason to subject yourself to the posts which bother you.

Second, find reasons to celebrate when others win.  Rather than collecting dark, disappointed thoughts, move the other way.  Move TOWARD the person and be the first to congratulate their success.  Behave AS IF you are happy for them and, believe it or not, it will help you ACTUALLY feel happier.

Walk away from the state of tyranny - you can do it!