Recently psychologist Martin Seligman and his colleague Susan Fiske published an article in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences (JPE), which is a popular peer-reviewed journal for psychologists. In the article, they discuss the dangers of comparing yourself to others and their research on how to avoid this trap.
He pointed out that most people are driven to analyze and compare themselves to others, and wish to determine who we are and what we are capable of. And why do we do that, beyond just personal observation?
The first important aspect is that we often use comparisons to confirm our beliefs about ourselves, other people, and life in general. If you think, “that guy is smart and he is nice,” it would be natural to say, “Well, I am also good and nice.” When you compare yourself with others, you are more likely to believe what you think about yourself.
It’s like the law of parsimony, only it’s more powerful. Whenever you are in a situation, such as a job interview, where you are asked to give examples of situations where you outperformed your co-workers or peers, you can “fill in the blanks” by telling your interviewer how you performed. However, you are not allowed to use your true skills and talents and be honest about them when giving examples.
When you are involved in a social network or group, you will notice that some people tend to put down or belittle the members of the other group, while others feel as if they’re being judged by the members of their group. While there are several reasons why someone might do this, what it’s all about is self-defining yourself.
If you are in a group where you’re criticized for a perceived flaw, such as being a slow, not very assertive person, the only way you know how to defend yourself is to criticize the group and the other group members. You’re comparing your personality traits to other people and are not admitting your flaws. As a result, you don’t feel good about yourself, and your judgment is clouded. by your inner emotions and feelings.
And that’s what you should avoid at all costs. Avoid comparing yourself to others, because this only serves to reinforce the notion that you are not as good as other people. and that you are only as good as your worst attributes.
The second danger of comparing yourself to others is that it causes you to view the world differently than the way you see yourself. Because you’re not as good as the other people in your group, you don’t feel as good about yourself and therefore, you don’t feel like you are good enough for the other people in your group. Instead, you might see them as better or even worse, or worse than you think. And this leads to self-blaming behaviours.
Change Your Behaviour
Self-talk is one of the most effective ways to change your behaviour because it helps you change the way you perceive yourself. And you are constantly able to get your point across, and that means you don’t feel bad about yourself anymore because of what you believe others think.
For example, if you are in a group where you’re criticized, you’ll notice that you’ll start criticizing yourself for your shortcomings, which then makes you feel bad about your character and your worth. And instead of focusing on what others think, you should focus on the way you look at the world and how you perceive your life.
Comparing yourself to other people is harmful to you and your growth as a person. So the next time you feel the need to be like everyone else, try not to compare yourself to others.
Instead, compare yourself to your strengths. Instead of putting down the ones who make you look bad. Make sure to focus on what you are good at and where you excel in the world.