Is comparing ourselves to others a bad thing or a good one?

by: Alejandra MalagaWalters, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

Have you ever felt less than someone or insecure because you are not living up to the accomplishments of your classmates? We are constantly comparing ourselves with the people that surround us, just as our siblings, friends, or high school classmates, but why? Why do we compare ourselves to others? According to psychologists, comparisons are a natural human tendency. In fact, people do it all the time. However, comparisons can also be a double-edged sword. They can be a powerful motivator, but sometimes they can be a strong deterrent from doing something you want, and that’s when they become not good for our mental health. Here are a few tips to change your perspective.

If you think about the people whom you consider to be “better” than you in some way, you can often fall into this trap. You may look at the person and think, “I’ll never be able to do that”, or “I’ll never be as good at that as that person”. The strategy is to change those thoughts. Instead of thinking about “what you can’t do”, think about “what you can do to achieve that”. This doesn’t mean you have to do what others do because that would be unauthentic to you, and what if you don’t like what they are doing? You should focus instead on things you like, enjoy, and are good at. Use what people did to achieve their goals as a motivation to start doing what you love. Then, find people that love that too. You will learn from them and be inspired by them.

Comparisons are normal in human beings and can be good motivators to increase personal achievements. It can also be helpful to challenge yourself to do what you have always wanted to do or be. However, if we start comparing ourselves too much it can lead us to pain. Be aware that everyone has completely different life experiences and goals. Don’t be too hard on yourself!