“I’d rather identify with people than compare myself to them.” This incredibly insightful comment came from my younger brother, Sean. Besides being one of my favorite people on the planet, Sean is smart, empathic and often can capture the essence of a complex idea in a profound statement; just as he did here. How many times have I sat comparing myself to others, or worse felt as though people were judging me after comparing my shortcomings to their lives?
I was raised by a wonderful mother, who very early taught me that I had no right to judge others. She created the foundation of my morality and instilled in me that every person was doing the best they could with what they have and in the end, it truly is only for God to judge. I have worked hard to emulate this in my life. I have also found that when I begin to get ‘judgy’, especially when I am comparing myself to others in an effort to feel better about my own life, I am usually in a bad place. I compare when I want to convince myself that I am right, that I am better or that I deserve better than what I have.
I know first hand how it feels to have someone compare their life to my own. To hear someone clearly identify the ways in which they have succeeded and I have not, if only I could have done what they had done, had the experiences they have had, I too, could be like them. And oddly enough, I have found people comparing the negativity in their lives to my own, again in some strange way to come across as though they have won. As though by experiencing more drama, more stress or more loss, they again are somehow a better person. What are we trying to prove? Who are we actually trying to prove it to?
‘Life is a journey, not a destination’, it also is not a race to be won or lost. The win/lose mentality is so ingrained in many people, that they just cannot feel as though they have won, unless someone else is losing. There is enough success in the world for all of us. We do not need others to fail for our dreams of success to come true. What if we stopped comparing and started spending time identifying with others? How amazing would it be if we knew that the people we spent time talking to actually wanted to find ways in which to empathize and understand, rather than tallying up wins and losses.
By identifying with others, we could spend our time building each other up. We could listen, encourage and support. We don’t have to prove that we are better, and for that matter, we don’t have to prove that we have it worse. We can learn from one another, we can empathize and we can trust.
If we put comparisons aside, we can support one another. If we find ways to identify with each other, we can bridge the gaps of fear and anger. If we can trust in the knowledge that your success is not my failure and my struggles are not being used on a scorecard to judge my worth, we can can create deeper and more meaningful relationships. When we stop comparing our lives to others, we can just live in the joy of life. Now of course, we still cannot control the judgment or even just comparisons from others. But when we let it go, when we feel pride in other people’s triumphs and support them through their struggles, the comparisons others will make will have less power over us. So thank you Sean, you’ve made me want to be a better person.