When we compare ourselves, we console ourselves… Really?

When we compare ourselves, we console ourselves... Really?


Have you noticed how we keep comparing ourselves? With family members, neighbors, friends, or certain public figures. All excuses are good to spy on others to find out why they are more beautiful, richer, and above all, happier than us.

This “mania” of comparing oneself to others is above all a normal process in our evolution. As a child, someone else's gift, toy or piece of cake will always look better than ours. 

From the cradle, through our family, through school, and beyond of society, we will compare ourselves to those around us. 

Unless we live alone and cut off from others, no one will be able to escape this (sometimes cruel) game: being together is is to be subject to comparison.

The adage however says: “When I look at myself, I am sorry, when I compare myself, I console myself.” Now, who among us has never felt sorry for those for whom everything seems to work out? 

These thoughts are not always the most noble, and they remind us each time how we are not human… if you deny these feelings, you might as well admit them!

Painful cravings

So, if it's normal to compare yourself to others, why is it so painful? Because envy is a painful feeling that does not make our existence any easier: when we envy someone, it's because we want what they have, and sometimes in an intense way. 

Even if it takes root in childhood (“My toy is more beautiful than yours!”, “My father is stronger than yours!”), over the years and experiences, our gaze sharpens: is the grass really greener next door? Is his perfect little family really?

It is true that inequalities and injustices can feed envy and jealousy; at the scale of a society, this can cause serious and numerous tensions. They are moreover flagrant in countries where the gaps between rich and poor are particularly visible. everyone lives exactly the same way, no matter where they live.

Comparing yourself…to an incomplete picture

Basically, the comparison comes down to one thing: a photograph, a very limited, fleeting and superficial look at others. And most of the time, it's a moment, an achievement or an object that seems extraordinary, but which only amounts to a fragment of reality… The overview remains well hidden.

After all, every existence, every life, even the most golden, hides a share of shadows, dramas, and failures that escape us: any comparison with others is thereby misleading. Yes, the neighbor has a much bigger house than ours, but do we really know what sacrifices he had to make to get it? And how does this house compare to our more modest abode that has allowed us to travel every year for the past 20 years?

How about we learn to (really) appreciate each other instead?

Rather than comparing ourselves to others, let's try to compare ourselves… to ourselves. 

To measure yourself against yourself is to reflect on your own values , think about your short and medium term goals. It is also to take a look at one's own evolution, at the areas of satisfaction and gratification in our journey, as much as at what may have escaped us at times. 

It is also the opportunity to make course corrections if necessary. That said, as we are gregarious and live in society, we will never entirely escape comparison. 

Perhaps we should then stop idealizing what is not is only a mirage: the appearance of perfection in others.