Feb
18

Why Comparing Yourself To Others Will Ruin You

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Teddy Roosevelt

  • Justin Zoradi
Why Comparing Yourself To Others Will Ruin You

Every so often, I’ll get an email from someone that goes like this:

“Wow, I’ve seen you’ve been doing X, Y, and Z. Awesome. Have you ever heard of blank organization or blank writer? They basically do the same thing you do and are really successful. Maybe you can learn from them?"


When I’m at my best, I can learn something from them. But more often than not, every time I read that email, I just feel horrible about myself.

I feel terrible because I start comparing the beginning of my journey with another person’s middle or end. I compare another person’s best attribute to my very worst.

Here’s the truth:

Comparing yourself to others will ruin you. It will end your dream before it can start. (Click To Tweet)


The comparison game steals your joy, halts your momentum, and brings your greatest insecurities to the forefront of your mind.

It's important to learn the mental skill of acknowledging another person's success, without letting it throw you off track. This takes discipline. It takes heartache. It takes the emotional capacity to see beyond what you’re feeling in the now.

Here’s a tip:

When you come across that story of someone who is more successful than you at the thing you are doing, repeat this to yourself over and over:

“They have their story and I have mine. They have their story and I have mine. They have their story...”


This quick mental exercise will help quell the anxiety of comparison.

Despite the perceived success of someone else, if you can keep showing up, you’ll eventually carve out a niche for you and you alone. It doesn’t matter if it takes you ten years to do what someone else did in one year. The point is that you’re doing it in the first place.

Soon enough, others may begin comparing themselves to you.☺

- JZ


I want you to do something for me

In the comment section below, write who or what it is you compare yourself to. You can leave out or change names if you want.

The point here isn’t to trash someone else, but to publicly share why you shouldn’t compare yourself to a uniquely different story than yours. I hope you find it liberating. You’ll see mine as the top comment below.

Photo Credit: Mike Johnson - TheBusyBrain.com




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Comments (44)

  • Justin Zoradi

    Justin Zoradi

    12 February 2013 at 02:40 |
    I tend to compare myself to successful heads of high profile organizations. I compare myself to how quickly they’ve found success, raised millions of dollars, and had an impact throughout the globe.

    But when I step back from it, I know that my gifting and calling is different from theirs. I don’t want to run a multi-million dollar organization right now. I don’t want to travel 200 days out of the year. I don’t want to have my every move scrutinized.

    What do I want? I want to be home for dinner every night. I want to love my wife really well. I want to make an impact but I’m ok with slow and organic growth over time. So should I be comparing? No.
  • David Lerner

    David Lerner

    19 February 2013 at 14:23 |
    We've never met, but you need to get out of my head, please. This is something that's plagued me throughout my life, as a musician, a husband, an employee, EVERYwhere. It's honestly just in the past few weeks that I've really begun to realize how much it's affected me, and now here you are, speaking the same thing.

    Here's to all of us learning the lesson...
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 17:16 |
      Thanks for sharing David. Sorry to hear how much it's affected you. But now you can change it.
  • Nikki

    Nikki

    19 February 2013 at 14:29 |
    Sometimes I fight comparing myself to people my age who are touring the world, musically. I say "fight" because often that is what it is. I fight to embrace the truth each time.

    The truth is, that my timing and age is perfect right now and no accident. I am actually at my best right now. If I pursued an early music industry career, who knows where I would be or WHO I would be. I have more wisdom and courage and knowledge now. But when the other feeling comes up, I fight the "you wasted time" voice.

    I'm grateful for the choice to meditate on what's true.

    Thank you for this. I think everyone can identify at some level.
    -Nikki
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 17:17 |
      Thanks Nikki. You're right, you are at the perfect place for you.
  • GHA

    GHA

    19 February 2013 at 14:38 |
    I tend to compare myself with what people have achieved at my age. I have to understand that we all have different experiences, upbringing, etc. I need to continue doing what I'm doing and do it well :)
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 17:17 |
      Thanks for reading & commenting GHA!
  • Priscilla

    Priscilla

    19 February 2013 at 14:55 |
    I have always compared myself to my sister...She is much prettier, more outgoing, athletic and musically talented than I am. I always felt like a wall flower. It took me awhile to see that I have different talents and she was jealous of me growing up too.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 17:17 |
      Thanks for sharing Priscilla. Interesting that she was also jealous of you. how about that...
  • Justin Dernison

    Justin Dernison

    19 February 2013 at 15:59 |
    I have to admit I was really stoked when I saw that this was going to be your topic. Comparison is something I have struggled with all of my life. From a very young age I found myself looking to others to try to determine where I should be and this often had me feeling less than. As I have gotten older I have trained myself to basically preach your mantra of "they have their story and I have mine" to myself.

    For the most part, allows me to focus on me. Doing so can often times feel selfish but actually has great benefit for all. By focusing on me I am better able to celebrate the successes of others and learn from them in a manner that has me feeling different than rather than lesser than.

    In those moments where comparison sneaks up another great mantra (so good in fact I hung above my child's bed): Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you. - Dr. Seuss
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 17:18 |
      Love the Dr Suess quote. Thanks for sharing man
  • CG

    CG

    19 February 2013 at 17:48 |
    I tend to compare myself to people who have already achieved great things in helping others. I have a friend who worked abroad for one year after his graduation and who succeeded in bringing hope to a lot of children. I would love to be a hope-giver like he is.
    This article reminds me of your blog some months ago, where you talked about Satan trying to convince us that we're not good enough.

    This is so true!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 21:15 |
      Thanks for reading CG! Appreciate it.
  • abby

    abby

    19 February 2013 at 19:23 |
    I keep hearing this important message- so thank you! I often compare myself and my work to other photographers. It's so good to remember that "they have their story and I have mine" and rejoice in this awesome and adventurous story that I get to live. I think having gratitude is a great way to remember that we're blessed to have our unique stories!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 21:25 |
      Thanks for reading Abby! You're right, those photographers have their story and you have yours.
  • Alan Hotchkiss

    Alan Hotchkiss

    19 February 2013 at 21:25 |
    I like this Justin. I was just with an older (66) guy last month in Africa. This guy is one of those guys we all compare ourselves to and feel bad. He said something astounding to me. He said, "Alan, now that I'm on the other side of the mountain and have had some significant success, those accomplishments, the further they get behind me, mean less and less. But the fact is, my wife is still my best friend and my kids are doing meaningful things with their lives because I loved them well. As I get closer to heaven, I am deeply grateful for that. So be careful yourself to keep things in perspective. Someday you'll be old too."
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      19 February 2013 at 21:42 |
      Thanks for that Alan. I like the "getting closer to heaven" idea.

      A great perspective. Thanks.
  • David Reagan

    David Reagan

    20 February 2013 at 01:38 |
    Wow. Our minds have been on the same track here lately.

    There is so much you could say on this subject.
    I'm glad you have the words for it, because today I don't.
    It's something I've been battling with a lot, though I try to deny it's existence most days. It's such a subtle enemy. There's a fine line between inspiration, and feeling such awe that you think you'll never be as "good" as them--at whatever that is.
    It's the struggle to be inspired, instead of jealous, by hearing someone's story. It's an entire life perspective really. Applies to everything.

    For instance, just today I was thinking about health. My day started off at 6 in the morning,notcing a magazine with that damn shirtless Ryan Gosling.Nobody can compete with that. Yet, I want to......
    I can work out all my life, but there will always be someone better looking in the gym or on TV. No matter how high I set my goals, if I'm not doing it for me, I'll always unhappy, instead of simply inspired.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      20 February 2013 at 20:01 |
      Thanks David! Just be inspired man. Hit the gym, but don't compare yourself to Ryan Gosling. That dude has a full time trainer. He's bought those abs!
  • Laura

    Laura

    20 February 2013 at 04:33 |
    Thanks Justin-

    I definitely have to work on this daily as well. I think in running a non-profit I compare myself to other organizations or get compared to other orgs all the time. It takes a lot to look at the good I am doing with the people we are working with right now- not the people we want to be working with or the goals we have down the road. If we look at the stories and people we are impacting - we are changing the entire world for them. And I love that maybe we won't get to see all the success stories that come from our efforts - and maybe that's a good thing. That will keep me humble and continually working towards being better and doing better.

    These were much needed words for me to hear today so thank you!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      20 February 2013 at 20:01 |
      Thanks Laura! You got it, we won't get to see all the success stories that come from our efforts. well said.
  • Susan

    Susan

    20 February 2013 at 15:07 |
    Justin,I began about 3 years ago developing relationships with people in need in my community.Just trying to love them like Jesus.Had to step away from event oriented church and focus on relationships.Sometimes it is a lonely path and I feel inadequate especially when my previous church is always promoting their activities.Mine can seem so small.
    Now,I am being asked to speak to different groups and local congregations of different faiths are stepping in to make sure that people in our community are not forgotten.
    Just wanted to encourage you.I truly know that God wants us to stop and pay attention to those hurting around us.Many of those with bigger organizations are not able to devote enough of themselves for that to happen.The fact that you respond personally to these comments is very encouraging to those of us trying to make a difference.Keep on being who God made you.It sets you apart.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      20 February 2013 at 20:02 |
      Thanks Susan. I appreciate your kind words.
  • Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    20 February 2013 at 19:54 |
    Justin,

    This is great timing, the teens I work with have been following this routine for a long time. I have been trying to explain to them why comparing isn't always the best thought process. I created a lesson plan that is based off this blog. I am going to give it to them today, so I will relay some answers. Good stuff keep it coming.
    Dave
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      20 February 2013 at 20:02 |
      Awesome man. Love to see the lesson plan if you get a moment. Killer stuff.
  • M

    M

    20 February 2013 at 20:21 |
    JZ,
    I compare myself to my father (both his successes and failures).
    to my friends. to other writers. other artists. other creative directors. to anyone that i perceive as happier, healthier, financially or socially more secure. i create fictitious cause-result stories in my mind...always netting out that success worked out for them, but it couldn't work out for me that way...because i'm not good enough, smart enough, creative enough. thoughts of "you're phony. a fake. a cheater. a failure. and unlike anyone else." and then the kicker, "you couldn't even share this with someone, because they'll know you for the liar and phony you are." this is a bad place that I go far too often for far too long.

    As someone who has spent seasons and years paralyzed by comparison and the anxious spiral of self doubt and self-loathing it breeds and ultimately the depressing drifting of hopelessness... I know more than I would like about that journey, and I can say after taking all those trips inward and downward, that the comparative voice never creates, is never active, never inspires movement towards using your gifts or doing the work you want to do. it's a rigged game. the comparative voice wants only to keep us paralyzed.

    The battle isn't to be so awesome that you can beat that voice into submission, you'll never accomplish enough to convince that comparative liar. the battle is accepting and loving yourself enough to say those words, "they have their story and i have mine."

    It's not easy, it still stings and hurts but the statement works. It's quick to acknowledge their story whether it's inspiring, intimidating or panic-inducing, is very much their own, and it sounds obvious but it allows me to see their story is not mine. to get some separation.

    The back half "and i have mine" that's the fun part. I'm so blind to that sentiment in the depths of comparison that just saying it out loud or meditating on it sends me down a more objective path of seeing where i'm currently at, accepting where i've been, and envisioning where i'm going. it shifts focus..and it ends on a positive note which is exactly where i need to be to get started...or continue using the gifts that God blessed me with to create my story with Him.

    Because we're all beautiful, and we're all broken, and I believe God wants all of us. He accepts all of it and sent a Son to bring freedom from captivity, and vision to the blind. I don't pretend to know where all that goes, but I do know that when I can sit with those thoughts, the comparison agenda isn't in the room.

    It may sound sappy or read soupy...apologies if I'm over-simplifying or muddling..but I just wanted to say thank you for being open enough to wade out into the deep water with honesty, grace and mercy....that's some holy spirit work combined beautifully with your gifts and words.

    M
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      25 February 2013 at 20:05 |
      M

      Thanks for your comment. You and I share the same fear. "You're phony. a fake" - I feel that all the time. Heavy stuff.

      Really pleased to see you process this out here. I'm honored.
  • Dave Arnold

    Dave Arnold

    21 February 2013 at 01:14 |
    I compare myself with other writers (especially the NY best seller one's)
    & dynamic speakers. But then I remind myself they had to start at the bottom too. And - as you said so well - everyone has their own story and POV. That helps me to keep chipping away at what God has called me to. Great post!!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      25 February 2013 at 20:06 |
      Dave

      Thanks for sharing. You got it man, they have their story and you have yours. And yours is exactly where it's meant to be. Congrats on the book launch!
  • Becky Hibbs

    Becky Hibbs

    21 February 2013 at 17:05 |
    I moved to Nashville to sing. I went to Belmont university for Music Business and thought I'd learn the business while performing on the side. However, everyone was doing that...and I started to compare myself to all the girls who had, sweeter, stronger, "better" voices than me. People were able to writer their own songs, play all kinds of instruments and suddenly I was pushed into this perception that I wasn't as much of a musician as I thought, compared to everyone else. Fellow students were forming bands, winning song contests, putting together press kits. And I couldn't even finish writing songs anymore because I was worried what everyone else would think about it. I stopped performing, didn't practice, and lost hope. I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore because I compared myself to others. Now students from Belmont have record deals, are all over CMT/GAC and I'm working behind the scenes. WHY? Why did I let myself feel like I wasn't good enough? Now, I'm creating a niche using my difference of not having hair (Alopecia Areata) to base my music off of and it's taking a really long time, but I know this is what I need to do. Patience is where I struggle - but as long as I take a few steps a week towards my dream, I know I'll get somewhere!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      25 February 2013 at 20:07 |
      Thanks for sharing Becky. Beautiful stuff. Keep going!
  • Melissa Baldwin

    Melissa Baldwin

    21 February 2013 at 17:13 |
    I work in theatre and face this painful situation every single time I audition...or go to a call-back...or don't get cast...or go see my friends' shows. I get envious when I see teenagers and young adults thriving in this industry or are so very, very talented and I am filled with regret that I didn't get started earlier with better training. I know when I face rejection what I'm supposed to think (as my daughter reminds me!), "You can be the best apple ever but today they were looking for oranges." It's just very difficult to let that really sink into my heart and soul.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      25 February 2013 at 20:08 |
      Thanks for sharing Melissa. This is so tough. I love the apples & oranges quote. Just like my photo! Keep going. Fight the envy. Be you.
  • m

    m

    26 February 2013 at 07:26 |
    I stumbled across your site tonight at the perfect moment. Today has been a day full of comparisons and ultimately conclusions that I just don't add up to anyone or even my own expectations of where I should be at for this point in my life.

    I compare myself to others I graduated with several years back. I look around and see how much farther along they are in their career than I am. I'm still trying to get started and they seem to be so established. Interview after interview and resume after resume. It's like I've never left the launch pad.

    I look around and see other people living out what I desire to be living out and wondering if I missed the boat or something. I compare myself to my friends that are all engaged, married and have a family while I sit alone. Those self doubts creep in. Am I boring? Not attractive? Not ambitious enough? Not creative enough?

    In my somewhat downward spiral of "I'm not good enough and I fail at life" mentality, this blog entry as well as a few other things have been a reminder that no story is the same. My story is what it is. There's no fun in reading a copycat version of a story already told. My story is what makes me uniquely who God intended me to be and I need to own it.

    Comparing myself to others isn't worth it. It takes away from the time I can spend being who I am meant to be and who I am meant to become.

    This has been liberating. Thank you.

    m
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      26 February 2013 at 19:36 |
      Thanks M!

      Thank you for your honesty here. Bold stuff.

      You nailed this: "Comparing myself to others isn't worth it. It takes away from the time I can spend being who I am meant to be and who I am meant to become."
  • Sarah Squire

    Sarah Squire

    01 March 2013 at 19:36 |
    Several years out of college, it is difficult not to compare myself with others my age who are making more money, finishing graduate school, pursuing fascinating careers, changing the world. The mantra that helps me is from Galations 5:6, in the context of new Christians comparing themselves to each other: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” I’ve pondered that a lot to try to figure out how faith is expressed through love, and what I’ve come up with in my life is this: faith in God, and our identity as his beloved creations, means that all our needs are met. We have nothing to prove, nothing to grasp at or squabble over. I am who I am, no more and no less, and that frees me to go and BE that joyfully and well. It also frees me to generously love other people, and to celebrate their successes with them, without feeling like I need to be like them. It is an immensely heartening perspective, but the challenge is to refocus myself on this truth day by day. Thanks for the encouragement, Justin!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      01 March 2013 at 19:40 |
      Thanks for reading Sarah!

      You're dead on here: "I am who I am, no more and no less, and that frees me to go and BE that joyfully and well."
  • Anna

    Anna

    19 May 2013 at 17:28 |
    I tend to compair myself with other girls that are my age that have a husband that can support them and lead them and team up with them for the gospel. In high school the Lord gave me the passion to become a dietitian with a focus on public health to use that profession as a tool to reach people for the gospel here in the states and even internationally. With my six years of training it has put me in a position where I not had much time or had the focus to be availability to meet a husband( not to mention that the field of dietetics is mostly all girls, and most ministry opportunities I have been in were mostly with women). Many times I feel I don't fit in because I have the heart of missions and doing Christ's work and to team up with a husband someday for the gospel, but feel stuck because the other women I am around have someone they are already teaming up with because they have a husband and new family and I am trying to figure out how to survive as a young professional with the heart number one for the gospel. I am so thankful that the Lord gave me the passion to pursue becoming a Dietitian, but may times feel becoming a young professional has delayed my chance of teaming up with a husband for the gospel together. It is easy to fear that I will always be alone as a young professional woman trying to see how I really fit in, but I need to remind myself that the Lords timing is perfect and he put passions in my heart for a reason and have to trust him.
  • Anna

    Anna

    19 May 2013 at 17:28 |
    I tend to compair myself with other girls that are my age that have a husband that can support them and lead them and team up with them for the gospel. In high school the Lord gave me the passion to become a dietitian with a focus on public health to use that profession as a tool to reach people for the gospel here in the states and even internationally. With my six years of training it has put me in a position where I not had much time or had the focus to be availability to meet a husband( not to mention that the field of dietetics is mostly all girls, and most ministry opportunities I have been in were mostly with women). Many times I feel I don't fit in because I have the heart of missions and doing Christ's work and to team up with a husband someday for the gospel, but feel stuck because the other women I am around have someone they are already teaming up with because they have a husband and new family and I am trying to figure out how to survive as a young professional with the heart number one for the gospel. I am so thankful that the Lord gave me the passion to pursue becoming a Dietitian, but may times feel becoming a young professional has delayed my chance of teaming up with a husband for the gospel together. It is easy to fear that I will always be alone as a young professional woman trying to see how I really fit in, but I need to remind myself that the Lords timing is perfect and he put passions in my heart for a reason and have to trust him.
  • Anna

    Anna

    19 May 2013 at 17:28 |
    I tend to compair myself with other girls that are my age that have a husband that can support them and lead them and team up with them for the gospel. In high school the Lord gave me the passion to become a dietitian with a focus on public health to use that profession as a tool to reach people for the gospel here in the states and even internationally. With my six years of training it has put me in a position where I not had much time or had the focus to be availability to meet a husband( not to mention that the field of dietetics is mostly all girls, and most ministry opportunities I have been in were mostly with women). Many times I feel I don't fit in because I have the heart of missions and doing Christ's work and to team up with a husband someday for the gospel, but feel stuck because the other women I am around have someone they are already teaming up with because they have a husband and new family and I am trying to figure out how to survive as a young professional with the heart number one for the gospel. I am so thankful that the Lord gave me the passion to pursue becoming a Dietitian, but may times feel becoming a young professional has delayed my chance of teaming up with a husband for the gospel together. It is easy to fear that I will always be alone as a young professional woman trying to see how I really fit in, but I need to remind myself that the Lords timing is perfect and he put passions in my heart for a reason and have to trust him.
  • Arlen Miller

    Arlen Miller

    02 September 2013 at 21:37 |
    Wow. Kinda what David Lerner commented above: "We've never met, but you need to get out of my head, please."

    I do confess that when I start going down the comparison trail I'm tempted to start, as you say, Justin, feeling horrible. Wanting to throw in the towel. Wishing bad on the other person. But then I catch myself. It is flat out wrong of me to cultivate these thoughts of... yes... jealousy. Get over it!

    I do confess that I felt this big black hole of emptiness inside when I realized that the vision I had was similar to what Donald Miller was doing. I almost felt cheated. Actually, I felt jealous.

    But then I realized I need to live the life Jesus created me for. The vision. The dream.

    I've determined those who compare and then try to overthrow are not wise.

    God made me uniquely me. He put visions and dreams in my bosom. The best I can do is live those to the hilt. Go. Run. Don't stop. Learn. Then keep going.

    Oh, yes! I will live my life following Jesus as I know how. Following Him in hot pursuit. Until He is formed in me. It's about Jesus. Not about me. I need to keep it separated. It's freeing. It's life! YES!
  • Elyse

    Elyse

    29 March 2014 at 03:10 |
    I compare myself to those my age and where there at in their life. Mainly with getting married, havings kids....the perfect life they seem to portray.

    The truth is there is no perfect scenario. The only perfect plan I'd Gods. I choose to not compare but to appreciate where I'm at now and look forward to a beatiful future
  • Geena

    Geena

    31 May 2014 at 02:25 |
    There is this girl I have never met, but she lives nearby. I'm a 17 y/o girl and she is 16 (we both share the same birthday Nov 1).
    I'm usually pretty confident about myself but when I look at her Instagram I can't help but to be envious! She's super tan, has a perfect body, gorgeous face, stunning hair, pretty smile, a bunch of friends, etc. Pretty much saying that if I could choose to look like another girl, it would femininely be her because she's flawless. She was even in a miss America beauty pageant. We talk sometimes and she's really nice. I just wish I could be so photogenic and flawless like her.
    She even has (two, I think) little brothers...I always wanted a brother or a sister but my mom had many miscarriages. I was the only one that wasn't a miscarriage and I wish I could share a bond with siblings like she does especially because my parents are divorced and I have limited friends.
    This type of thing happens time to time and I usually get over it. I try to look at my positive qualities and realize I'm beautiful too. And that I can have an exciting life like her also.
  • Chizhim Adikema

    Chizhim Adikema

    09 July 2014 at 05:27 |
    Hi, Thanks alot for the piece. I tend to compare myself to my former classmates/colleagues who work in better places than I do. What led me to finding this article was when I realized my former classmate doing a postgraduate course like me (but in a better ranked school) just graduated with a distinction while my recently released result appeared to dash my hopes/dreams of graduating with same. I pray God delivers me from this attitude to life. Thanks and God bless you

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