On Comparing Yourself

For the longest time, people have compared themselves to others. This was useful for the assessment of social status in a group and could provide valuable information that could benefit survival.

Today, comparing yourself to others can negatively affect you. It can lead to self-doubt, unfair assessment of your efforts and resentment of yourself and others.

This is mainly because the way you compare yourself to others is inherently flawed:

Often, you compare your weaknesses to the strengths of others.

This is inherently unfair as the strengths of others are often a result of long and difficult practice in a narrow domain. Which is often a result of different prioritization and choices throughout others lives.

Additionally, you compare yourself to others without a complete picture of them.

All you know about them is what they share publicly, which is often nothing more than a carefully selected highlight-reel.

While Elon Musk is famous and wealthy, he is also divorced multiple times. While most people would aspire to similar fame and wealth, they’d almost certainly try to avoid Musk’s relationship problems.

Thus, comparing yourself to others is inherently flawed and only of limited use.

The alternative to comparing yourself to others is to compare yourself to yourself! Specifically, with who you were yesterday. Since you know the full picture of your life, your comparison is fair.

In the words of psychologist Jordan Peterson:

Compare yourself to who were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life