Why does the world want us, to compare?
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Comparison is the thief of joy - Theodore Roosevelt
If you want to know who in this world wants us to keep comparing, read ahead. In fact, I recommend it, if you feel that the last time you scrolled through Instagram, you felt that tad little bit of envy, jealously, or hatred towards yourself.
I started to make notes for this article over a period of time because this topic on comparing oneself with others is ancient and has its roots deep into tradition. There are some questions I started with, to get myself around the topic and I would love to share them with you all.
Here it goes, ask yourself :
Do you go to bed with a smile, every night?
Do you feel the, “I wish..”?
I was on the verge of giving up on my legs day and getting back home. That is when I asked myself a question, and that was “Do you go to bed with a smile, every night?”. For this, the only answer that struck me, was a clear ‘NO’.
Yes, I wasn’t able to get a good sleep. The reason was simple and it was just that I wanted to get better at my physique. Normally I would ramp up my intensity at working out, but I was at the stage when my body stopped showing significant changes.
Even though I knew the kind of changes that I had to do; which might be tweaking my diet, changing the routine, or playing around with the intensities but all I chose to do was to observe other gym buddies, compare myself with them, and watch videos on fitness.
Why did I really choose to be carried away by observing and comparing myself? Maybe because they were convincing and told me a better story or I wasn’t really sure about mine. The first step of comparing is right here.
And that is, we don’t believe in our own story.
We don’t feel the necessity to hold ourselves responsible, for our own deeds.
Have a look around. Everyone from your social platform to your family wants you to know, their story. The world wants you to compare, and it's not a general human trait that is just destroying you. The social media world is what has made the concept of comparison, an invisible trait of humans today.
1. The comparison starts at home.
The traditional ways of comparison were from the roots and they could easily be seen. For example, your parents definitely did compare you with other kids and this was mostly is to encourage you to do well. That’s great, isn’t it? Now I am not sure about other countries, but the root to the habit of comparison in India starts from here.
What I see is that being compared in your childhood is a good thing but better when supervised for longer. The childhood experiences of being compared could have been done so to uplift your performance. Which is a good thing if it turns out well, but in case it leaves a negative effect, you won’t know till the storm has passed.
Photo by 42 North on Unsplash
It’s not really a matter of concern for a person who hardly wants to get involved in the “talk of feelings”, but this is for those few, who want to be invested emotionally with your loved ones. The life we are gifted isn’t a race. If you do so, where exactly do you think, is the finish line?
There are just a few questions, I feel you should ask yourself by travelling back to your childhood.
Were you compared as a kid?
Did you feel that you had to be better to make your parents happy?
Did you feel that, you did it just to surpass someone?
Was there ‘you’ in all this?
I asked you to go through all of this, to know yourself better. The change would be to stop the race and stop comparing yourself. And for this, the realisation is the key to your change.
2. Comparison is a billion-dollar market.
A simple exercise for you; turn on your TV or open Instagram. Observe how many brands are engaged in influencing you to compare yourself with a better version of yourself, but only when you use their product or service? If I had to take a wild guess, that would be all of them.
Comparison has been in the roots of traditions. Which could easily be marketed that way to sell a product well. The world, for example, has to learn that the skin complexion isn’t everything they have to be worried about. Furthermore, India’s adult population must stop tiring themselves in pushing their kids and relatives into beautifying themselves. Countries have been moving ahead in research, innovation, technology and education; and India which has serious potential, is more worried about mindless chatter.
What really came to my surprise was to see the kind of reaction on the recent George Floyd’s murder, by a few celebrities. Many Indian influencers went ahead to showcase their support to the moment of #blacklivesmatter; This would’ve been ethical if only they stood up sincerely and not because the hashtag was trending. You might think that they, maybe were really concerned about racism. If they were, that is respectable.
But do you realise that racism has its roots in the Indian tradition and culture from the beginning of time, as well?
Caste system which even today is active, gender discrimination, rape, the gender wage gap, and women representation in governance and corporate, would be a few to set a reminder.
Photo by United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash
Even if you have a single person following you, try to be yourself. The discrimination that the film industry has shown towards racism is almost like them trying to choose what to wear from their wardrobes. Choosing what looks good, is great for the eyes, until you leave. If you are one who wants to leave an impact behind you, chose to be yourself and influence those millions of people who follow you, towards the right path. I say this because, I wonder where all this voice was when there were issues, right in our country recently?
Let’s not deviate from the topic we were trying to understand here. I only felt the need to bring in that issue which was rightly pointed out by Abhay Deol, to help us understand that celebrities or influencers or a brand shouldn’t matter to you. Why should they be? When all they care about is what’s in it from them?
Photo by @abhaydeol on Instagram
Social media in support of all this is a tool which has amped comparison into becoming instantaneous.
Don’t believe people who don’t stand for themselves.
It's your life, and it comes with a right to choose. So, chose wisely.
3. Politics fuels Comparison
Imagine if you were on the side which is dominating ( I don’t mean supporting. I mean, being on that side). Would you really know the experience of the ones being discriminated?
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
It’s about vote bank and that’s all that matter when they compare you who is on the dominant side, with your friends who are on the discrimination end. Even if all it takes is one good motive, “leaders” still won’t allow it.
Yet the hope for change continues.
The deeper we get into the world which wants you to compare yourselves, the more dirt we get ourselves into. So let's move on and see how exactly we can try to free ourselves.
Is it possible to stop comparison?
Yes it is!
I believe that breaking down the way we compare ourselves, is the key. Comparison is something that needs to have a standard, to which we compare. Also comparing is used to get two kinds of results.
1. One would be an honest comparison, where you genuinely want to know how you’re doing among others. Here you are expecting feedback, constructive criticism, and have a will to improve. For example, how would it be if a person compared their memory with that of a memory trainer's? Of course, the memory trainer would be better at it, because the trainer is an expert at it. Even though that comparison was higher to your level, you shouldn't really let go of that. Trying to grow isn't a bad thing. But maybe comparing yourself with someone better than you and who is also in the same space as you, would be a wiser move.
2. The other would be to make yourself feel good. That would be by consciously comparing yourself with some who is not on your standards. For example, how would it be if a grown person compared their intelligence with that of a kid? Of course, the elder person would do better and definitely feel good about it. But isn’t logical.
Our drive towards who we compare ourselves with is based on the emotions we link it with.
So there are a few things we could do to compare in the right way.
Observe to see why exactly do you want to compare? Is it to make yourself feel better or accurately assess ourselves?
Don’t compare yourselves with someone who has given up and does things for the sake of it.
If in case you hear that your acquaintance scored more than you in an exam and you are motivated to move away from them, since that’s exactly what your mind wants you to do i.e move away from anything that hurts or affects you negatively. And further in case, you mingle with a person who is mediocre and does things for the sake of it, do you know that your mind loves you to spend time there? Because the mind isn’t hurt there, and more so it feels good about itself when you are in such level of comparison.
"The realisation is the key to your change."
Ways to effectively succeed the comparing world
1. Move away from the negative comparison that hurts your performances.
You really don't need to align yourself with a person who constantly showcases what you aren’t good at. The world is a great place, there are great people who might bring out the best in you. Keep calm and keep doing your thing.
2. Move away from the stereotype
As I said, it’s in our hands to uplift ourselves. Stereotypes are the kind of people who are on this earth to watch how it functions. They aren’t bothered to bring in change or leave a legacy. They are here to watch and judge. Funny how the meaning of stereotyping coincides with the statement.
3. Compare yourself with the right people.
If you want to be the best in what you do, you know, what to do. The right people will uplift you and feel happy about it. The next point clearly says how.
4. Join hands with the right group and focus on collective winning.
It’s about you being in the company of the right kind of people. I recently wrote an article on how to choose your company wisely, maybe that could help. The right kind of people helps you focus on the right stuff. If you deviate, they’ll help you realise your goal. If you're discriminated, they will stand by you. They don’t come with personal motives, because they come together to ensure a collective win. But overall they want you to, be yourself.
Now is the chance to change and never look back. The world is moving faster than ever before.
However, the only place for you to bring in change, is in yourself.
The right people, the right influence, and the right miracle will happen along the journey.
Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash
Stay positive, don’t give up and please speak up. You have a story, and you need to stand by it.
For all we are, are work in progress.
By- Nirup Kamagethi Chakravarti P L