Rarely does a day pass without my hearing people compare themselves to others:
- “I’m just not as good as other people.”
- “I’m not pretty enough.”
- “I’ve always been stupid.”
- “Why can’t I make friends like other people do?”
Let’s examine the common denominator in all these expressions, recognizing that they are just four examples among thousands of others. I will translate each of the four examples into another form, without changing the meaning:
- “Other people are better than I am.”
- “Other people are more beautiful—or, excuse the grammar, better beautiful—than I am.”
- “All my life people have been more intelligent—possess better intelligence—than I.”
- “I don’t understand how everyone is better at making friends than I am.”
Notice the one word that sticks out in all those examples? BETTER.
I suggest that BETTER is an evil word—bear in mind that I use the word “evil” almost never—when it's used to compare ourselves to other people. We simply ARE WHO WE ARE. NO ONE ELSE on earth has our DNA, our epigenome, our education, our childhood and adult experiences, and more. No one. So how could we possibly compare ourselves to others?
Further, we compare ourselves to people we absolutely don’t know. We think we do, but I assure you that we don’t. I have counseled intimately with thousands of people who look perfect on the outside, but it’s a thin shell that hides an unbearably painful, rotting mass of fear, anger, victimhood, people-pleasing, dishonesty, addictions, and more. I am NOT condemning these people, since they are merely reacting to pain inflicted upon them, but I AM saying that we know not what we do when we compare ourselves to the spray-painted shell that we can see.
So how can we use the word “better?” The only productive thing we can do every day is to consciously make decisions—with all our imperfections—to make who we are just a little better: a little more accepting, a little more informed, a little more patient, a little more loving.
Oh my—I think with an enormous sigh—how much BETTER the world would be if we would just do this one thing. You can read more about this subject here.