Competing and comparing ourselves to others seems to start early on in life in our society. It can begin when we are youngsters competing for our parents affections. Then we move through the education system, where these two behaviorisms are actually encouraged and expected. We are even rewarded the more we compete.
My own experience with comparison and competition was primarily between my friends or other girls. It was more about how beautiful you were and how much attention you received from the boys. It was all about physical appearance and it had a profound affect on my development as it did on many other female friends. It can cause great suffering where we can never reach the high standards that we set for ourselves based on conditioning and society's rules. Body shaming, disorders and inner criticism are all too common and have been major issues for many years and continue to be. It wasn't until I came across spiritually mature and conscious women and sisterhood circles that this began to shift for me personally.
I feel that there is healthy competition, such as in sport. This is a great way to burn off built up energy, to learn self-discipline and push ourselves to excel however, throw ego's into the mix and it quickly becomes out of balance. Constantly comparing ourselves and competing with others can be quite exhausting and leads to deeper unhappiness.
In our culture we are fed from many different sources that who we are is not enough. It is quite common that human beings go about looking outside of ourselves for answers to cover up the fear of not being enough. Whether it is about not being beautiful enough or successful enough, not being knowledgeable or wise enough, not enough 'likes' on social media (therefore there's something wrong with me), not being manly enough, and so on.
This leaves a void that will never be fulfilled by trying to be like someone else. As a therapist, I've come across a lot of people over the years who have struggled with a belief that they have to be this 'perfect' image, (whatever that image is for them) so they will be accepted or loved more. The trouble is, it is impossible to be someone or something else other than who we are. Outwardly it may seem like to others we've got it all together, but our inner space or energy doesn't match.
The way to overcome this within ourselves, firstly is to be honest where we may be doing this in our own lives. Secondly, while being honest, to approach ourselves with compassion. Some good reflections are:
Next is to take a step back. To me this behavior is of an old paradigm and we have been misled by society. Many industries prey on fears such as telling us we have to stay looking young by buying a $700 face crème. One of the ways beyond this is looking deeper. Who are we beyond the physical dimension? Beyond the outer appearance, beyond possessions, the need for approval of others, the attachment to being more special than others, judging perceived faults in others or self criticism?
If we become caught up in this behavior I feel we are disconnected with our true nature and our purpose in life by trying to be something else. There are many ways this can play out.
By taking a step back we can drop into our heart-space and deeper feelings and come from a place of appreciation. Appreciating qualities in others I feel takes some humility so we are not projecting our own pain onto the other person we are admiring - where we can see the quality we admire and celebrate it rather than covet it. There are also ways to learn how to develop qualities we like in others, within ourselves in ways that are sincere, transparent and with integrity. Yet getting caught up in trying to be like someone else is denying the authentic self. The only person we can be is ourselves. If society as a whole had the resources to recognize and nurture natural gifts from childhood and encourage this in holistic ways, then we would live in a very different world. A world that is more connected. The ego's motivation for competition or comparison would become irrelevant.
Each of us have shown up to life with our own stories, gifts and essence that is uniquely beautiful unlike anyone else. Being who we are is the most divine gift we can offer each other and the world.
Written by Laura Naomi
Recommended listening and reading...
"Shedding Light onto Shadow"
"The difference between Discernment and Judgment"
image credits: ksenia makagonova on Unsplash, fa-barboza on Unsplash