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    Coping Skills - Don't Compare Yourself with Others

    Coping Skills - Don't Compare Yourself with Others
    by Robin Cunningham
    Sunday, April 6, 2008

    It's a common practice in our society to measure our worth by comparing our accomplishments with the achievements of others. There's no end to the fields of endeavor we might pursue, and within any and all of these fields, we can find someone to emulate, someone we can use as a standard of excellence. For decades professional sports heroes and breakfast cereal manufacturers have teamed up [no pun intended] to offer readymade package deals to young boys and girls. "Eat this cereal if you want someday to become a gold medal winner in the Olympics." Even computer hackers today have their icons and myths.

    "So what's wrong with this?" you ask. "We all need role models, especially when we're young, long on ambition and short on experience."

    We may not be conscious of it, but many of us carry this mind set into our adult lives, into our homes, families, and workplaces. Our role models are typically individuals of some standing in fields of endeavor in which we are, or would like to become, involved, e.g. the charismatic, inspirational evangelist at last year's annual church retreat, the most successful salesperson in the company for which we work, our "got it all together" peer advocate, or a certain relative, friend or colleague we like and admire. We pay close attention to everything they do and say, and imagine ourselves in their place. In striving to perform as they do, we quite naturally measure our accomplishments with the yardstick of their achievements.

    In my experience, the practice of comparing ourselves with others can be destructive. Accepting a role model carries with it the presumption that we would like to be like him or her. Comparing ourselves with our peers implies that we would like to do better than they. Rather than guiding us, or motivating us to succeed, these comparisons, more often than not, find us wanting and leave us disheartened. The practice can actually place obstacles in our personal pathway to success. There are a number of reasons for this.

    Like the rest of us, all role models are flawed. Hardly a month goes by that we don't find a sports hero involved in some scandal or illegal activity, or some corporate executive who has cooked the books or used company resources to finance a lavish personal lifestyle. In recent years, even the religious right has incurred spectacular casualties.

    One thing that's often forgotten when we pick role models is that we select them because their performance is superior to all others. These models are truly the very best of their kind; quite often they have extraordinary skills. Is it realistic, empowering, or productive to compare our performance with the best there is?

    Oddly, children seem to understand better than adults that these comparisons are a game of sorts. Young boys and girls understand that their desire to become President of the United States is not going to be fulfilled anytime soon.

    When we carry the practice of making such comparisons into our adult lives, we often begin to take the results seriously. Age is no longer a spoiler. With rare exceptions, we set ourselves up for failure. We dedicate significant amounts of our limited resources of time and energy in an attempt to realize what may be unrealistic goals. Our failure to achieve these can turn us into bitter, envious, angry and disillusioned workaholics or dropouts.

    So, if we take a personal stand and refuse to make such comparisons, what yardstick do we use to measure our performance? The answer is so simple that we have probably never considered it. We simply compare what we've accomplished this day, this week, this month, and this year with what we achieved yesterday, last week, last month and last year. We strive for incremental improvements in our own performance. In other words, we compete with ourselves, trying to make each day better than the one before. Endorsing this standard of performance and this form of comparison, can have what sometimes seems like magical affects.

    First, we no longer find ourselves spending valuable resources trying to achieve goals that require abilities we may not possess. Second, we need not become embroiled in trying to best our peers. Third, we can reserve resources for investment in improving our own skills, abilities and life. And, fourth it eliminates non-productive distractions, i.e., we can simply focus more easily on both the here and now, and the future, i.e., on living our lives to the fullest.

    All of the above factors can significantly reduce the stress of our everyday existence while making us more accomplished, not to mention the increase in confidence and satisfaction that accrue.

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    Re: Coping Skills - Don't Compare Yourself with Others

    A very interesting article,

    We dedicate significant amounts of our limited resources of time and energy in an attempt to realize what may be unrealistic goals. Our failure to achieve these can turn us into bitter, envious, angry and disillusioned workaholics or dropouts.
    "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." (Desiderata)

    And perhaps vanity is a form of negative psychology?

    Volumes have been written on vanity, but here's an interesting painting on it that I found.

    All is Vanity" by C. Allan Gilbert. Life, death, and meaning of existence are intertwined.
    Last edited by Sparrow; December 22nd, 2008 at 05:49 PM. Reason: forgetfulness

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    Re: Coping Skills - Don't Compare Yourself with Others

    Identity Recovery
    By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

    Identity theft is when someone identifies themselves as you and steals your resources. Identity giveaway is when you identify as someone else and surrender your sense of individuality and uniqueness. All identification with the external is a giveaway of your essence.

    The word ?identity? comes from the Latin word idem, which means ?same.? Identity is built through identification with the external, with what you are not. We determine our identities by comparing ourselves to ?not-ourselves? and thereby try to determine who we are. We tend to think along the lines of ?I am like this or that? or ?I am like so-and-so or that-and-such.? Therein lies the problem.

    You aren?t like anything or anybody else, even if you are similar. Similarity isn?t sameness. No one is the same as you. Number 1.0000001 is very, very close to 1, but it still isn?t a true 1. Only 1 is 1. And only you are you. There is no one like you. You are not an almost-you, or a kinda-you, or a sorta-you. You are one of a kind, fully and uniquely you! When we identify (equate) ourselves with the external, with what is not us, we ignore the very uniqueness that makes us different.

    Recognize that uniqueness is beyond comparison.

    Recognize that you are beyond comparison.

    Recognize that as long as you define what you are by what you are not, you are exchanging your uniqueness and oneness for similarity. And, in so doing, you are giving away your identity and losing sight of your essential, unique self.

    Identification with the external is an identity giveaway. Identity giveaway, just like identity theft, is a loss of self.

    Look inside to re-discover yourself.

    Resources:
    Lotus Effect: Shedding Suffering and Rediscovering Your Essential Self

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    Re: Coping Skills - Don't Compare Yourself with Others

    Be Careful With Comparisons

    Many people cause themselves unnecessary stress by making comparisons. More specifically, they cause themselves stress by making the wrong
    comparisons. They compare themselves only to those who have more, do more, or are in some way closer to their ideals, and allow themselves to feel inferior instead of inspired. In cultivating gratitude, you have one of two options if you find yourself making such comparisons: You can either choose to compare yourself to people who have less than you (which reminds you how truly rich and lucky you are), or you can feel gratitude for having people in your life who can inspire you. Either road can lead away from stress and envy, and closer to feelings of gratitude.





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    Re: Coping Skills - Don't Compare Yourself with Others

    From an article posted by Dr. Baxter in 2005:

    Routinely comparing yourself to others -- especially when it comes to money, talent, recognition and material possessions -- will invariably lead to dissatisfaction, even if you come out on top.

    Research has shown that people who make a habit of such comparisons are generally less happy than are those who base their success on their own internal standards.

    Here's why:

    When you compare yourself to people who have more than you, your inner brat gets into gear. Just like little Johnny and the chocolate cake described above, your inner brat dwells on what's missing, which makes you feel victimized. You'll never be satisfied, no matter how much you have, as long as someone else has more.

    This is the same mentality that fuels the huge salary demands by top athletes, actors and CEOs: "I'm making $20 million, but that's not enough because the other guy's getting $30 million."

    If comparing yourself to people who have more than you makes you feel worse, should you instead concentrate on comparing yourself to those who have less or accomplished less? Actually, no. While it might be comforting for the moment, it could backfire in the long run.

    You could end up feeling even less secure, worrying that you'll lose what you have. Or you might feel guilty for having more than others, such that you subconsciously sabotage your future success.

    It's best not to compare yourself to anyone. Other people's achievements don't diminish your own, and their misfortunes do not improve your lot.

    This doesn't mean that you shouldn't compete, nor that you shouldn't strive to improve. However, do it for the right reasons -- not because your inner brat is whining, but rather to develop and grow. That way, you'll enjoy your accomplishments so much more.

    http://forum.psychlinks.ca/psycholog...re-beware.html

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    Re: Coping Skills - Don't Compare Yourself with Others

    lol Must be a different Robin Cunningham than my brother. I don't think he ever wrote a paper when he used to be a Psych Nurse... And he works as a letter carrier for Canada Post now.... 8) But that was a bit of a shocker, seeing his name there! lol
    (Formerly JollyGreenJellyBean)

    My dog is a human whisperer.

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