On Comparing Yourself with Others

Who isn’t familiar with this experience? It is actually a natural human tendency to compare yourself with other human being. However, if you feel that you’ve arrived at the state of automaticity, the aspects of your soul have undoubtedly started to ruin and tremble. Many people haven’t recovered from this harmful self-examination yet.

I began to worry about this situation. I don’t even remember how many times I heard this kind of story from my friends. Let me tell you some keywords:

They felt like they were unnoticed, unpopular. Unworthy, left behind. A loser, a cowardice. They believed that they achieved nothing in life. They assumed that they gained the lowest rank. They convinced themselves that they pursued the most undeserving accomplishment. They thought that they delivered the most awful performance.

Do you feel the same?

If you feel like the description describes you and your thoughts a lot, I want to tell you something. Perhaps, you assume that I would offer you a handbook of self-compassion or self-love. But in this article, I intend to point out how the comparison begins and how to prevent it.

First. You usually draw a comparison between yourself and other person when you see that person. Rather than a simple “seeing”, it is more like focusing and constant researching for the good characteristics of person that make them better than you. Imagine if there were no people around you. There would be no chance for you to compare yourself, wouldn’t there? Because removing everyone from your sight is a nonsensical idea, you can remove them from your sight. The people whom you know that looking at them possibly arises envy in your heart. At least, you could minimalise the frequency and the chance of seeing those people. It is as simple as not staying on Instagram, a place where you can freely watch a million people competes to be the happiest, prettiest, luckiest person — the victory of all things.

Second. I’m not trying to advice you to not learn from inspirational people in the word. Of course, you have to. You can encourage yourself by being inspired, looking for their good virtues, passion, and powerful aim. You must do this also to answer this question: what kind of person do you want to be? But, what you must note and highlight is that role models are not there for making you feel like you are nothing. The inspirational people are there to be your standard of achievement; but not everyone should be your standard. For example, I take Rasulullah ﷺ , the companions, and the ones who follow them as my role models. They achieved what I really wanted in life and displayed the best virtues amongst all people in the world. So, whenever it acrosses my mind that the guy I met yesterday is lucky because he has much money, thousands of jewelry, and the prettiest face, I try to remind myself that this person is not my standard. There is no point in comparing myself with them.

The last. From my unscientific observations, people who tend to compare themselves with other person show an unhappy, gloomy expression when they heard people telling them their happiness or achievement. They give forced smile sometimes. They pause for a while as if there are conflicting feelings in their heart: should I be happy for you or not? They feel happy. On the other side, there is a strong feeling of discontented that they must bury. The feeling comes automatically, uncontrolled. It is inevitable. From here, I am not saying that these emotions are unvalid. I encourage everyone to empathise with this feelings. However, envy does cause harm if it is too intense and too frequent. It is a sign of unhealthy heart if the envy appears towards the ones who don’t worth an envy. Therefore, I have one tip for those of you who are frequently exposed with happy news: praise God everytime you hear that. In the teachings of my religion, Islam, it is encouraged to say “ ما شاء الله” (maa syaa Allaah) when we admire someone’s good deeds and achievement or something that makes us amazed. It is the concept of a Muslim to attribute every good we encounter in life to Allah. Besides that, Islam also teaches us to desire good for other people and free ourselves from envy and resentment.

Musaddad told us that Yahya told us upon the authority of Shu’bah from Qataadah from Anas ( رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ) that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” ( Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [13/1])

That’s all I wanted to share. I hope you can resolve your worry and once again, be kind to yourself.

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