Comparison is the thief of joy —Theodore Roosevelt

Confidence and self-esteem are concerned with what we believe about our abilities and our self-worth.

But how can we judge our worth and abilities? Using what standards and criteria? By comparing our abilities and worth with those of other people.

The problem is, there’s always someone you know, meet, see, listen to or read about in magazines, newspapers and on Facebook, who you could see as being ‘better’: more successful, better looking, more capable or who has more and has done more than you.

You can always find ways that you don’t match up. Of course, it’s natural to want to know where you fit into the scheme of things. But measuring your worth and your abilities against other people and concluding you don’t match up can only lead to feeling inferior, disappointed and even ashamed.

How often, though, do you compare yourself with someone less fortunate than you and consider yourself blessed? Too often, we compare ourselves with someone who we think is ‘better’ or has more; better skills, abilities or personal qualities and better or more resources and possessions. We compare what we think is the worst of ourselves to the best we presume about others.

You may even look for further evidence to support and confirm what you’ve decided is true; the negative ways in which you don’t match up, what you don’t have, can’t do or will never be. But these sorts of negative comparisons only create resentment and feelings of unfairness and deprivation.

In Practice


There is nothing noble about being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self. —Hindu proverb


Break free of the negative comparison habit. Ask yourself, ‘How does comparing myself or my situation to others make me feel?’ If comparisons leave you feeling resentful, discouraged and feeling bad about yourself, then clearly it’s not helpful to think like this.

Focus on you. Comparing yourself to someone else puts the focus on the wrong person. Your skills, abilities, contributions and value are entirely unique to you. They can never be fairly compared to anyone else. Your time and effort could be better spent thinking positively about yourself. Compare yourself to yourself. Focus on what you have done and are doing rather than what everyone else has done and is doing. Reflect on what you’ve experienced, achieved and/or overcome. See how far you have come compared to last week, last year, two years ago, five years ago. And if you’ve suffered a setback, focus on how you can move forward and gain ground again.

Instead of comparing yourself with others, be inspired by others. Rather than compare yourself with other people who are ‘better’ or have more than you, see others as role models to learn from and inspire you. When you allow yourself to feel inspired by others, you can feel motivated to achieve and do well according to your own abilities, skills and resources.

Compare less. Appreciate more. Being more aware of what you do have rather than what, compared to others, you don’t have, is a far more positive direction to take. Identify the good fortune, privileges and qualities you have and build on them.