I’m smarter than her. She’s more beautiful than me. Why can’t I be as successful as her? That’s simply comparison! It begins as early as preschool, or maybe even before. You compare, measure up yourself to others. Is it helpful to compare myself to my friends?
Erin Hayle, the coordinator at the Jamaica Kidney Kids Foundation, believes there are benefits. “It is hard not to, because we might see other people’s successes as ‘yardsticks’, but we fail to realise that what is relevant to them might not be relevant to us. Each individual’s path and timing is different so it is not useful to pressure ourselves unnecessarily. It sounds cliché, but we really should only compare ourselves with the self we once were, and the self we aspire to be. That way, we can appreciate our own achievements and goals as they measure up to our own values and definition of success,” she said.
For Jayshree Nagrani, a successful business owner, it’s like a pirate.
“Comparison is the thief of all happiness! The word has so many negatives associated with it, so I will say, NO, it is never helpful to compare yourself with your friends. However, let’s replace the word ‘compare’ with ‘motivate’ or ‘inspire’. It is important to have your friends’ achievements motivate you and allow you to grow. As women, it’s healthy and necessary to use the great and not so great things happening in our friends’ lives to inspire us rather than make us feel as though we don’t measure up. We can even learn from them rather than compare ourselves and think we are not capable of great things as well! It may not be the same thing that your friend has or achieves, but will be just as great, no doubt!”
Michelle-Ann Letman, who is the assistant manager, public relations and corporate social responsibility at Sagicor Group Jamaica, believes differently.
“I strongly believe that the people we surround ourselves with, and who we call our friends, should be a source of motivation and should challenge us in some way. While I believe it is natural for human beings to compare ourselves to others (friends or otherwise) at some point in our lives, for me, comparison to friends or anyone else being helpful is dependent on the intent and outcome of the comparison. If the comparison is being used as a source of motivation to be better, then it can be helpful, but if the comparison is coming from a place of envy, jealousy or bitterness, then it’s time for some introspection and re-evaluation of oneself. Live life on your own terms and not be busy trying to live someone else’s life.”
Brittany Brown, digital and public relations coordinator of The Courtleigh Hospitality Group.
Comparing ourselves to our friends is never a good idea. When we start focusing on that, we get stuck in an unhealthy comparison with others, and it ends up affecting our friendship and our own mental health. We also need to understand that we will never be perfect at anything, and so it is inevitable to not compare ourselves but you have to be willing to continuously upgrade yourself for what you want to be and not what someone else is. Instead of comparing ourselves, I believe the best thing to do is to practise more self-love and be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how big or small they are.
But what do the experts say?
From a professional stance and her experience, psychologist Jessica Thompson of Centred Ja says it’s not helpful. In fact, there may not be any good in the act.
“Oftentimes, you think that comparison is going to motivate us to do better, and that’s the intention; however, what it really does is breeds a lot of negative emotions about ourselves and the other person.”
Envy and jealousy are likely to show their faces when you make comparisons. She recommends finding other ways to inspire and motivate yourself.
Story by Rocheda Bartley