My cousin is a better cook than I. My friend Elizabeth is thinner than I. My brother is smarter than I. My daughter is a better driver than I…
The list goes on and on!
Somehow, we get conditioned into comparing ourselves to others through the media, our parents, our culture. (Have you been keeping up with the Jones’?) It’s a wonder we do not end up in fetal position unable to lift a finger, at least on the outside.
As a coach, I’m more interested in what this fetal position looks like on the inside though.
Does “My cousin is a better cook” turn into “I’m not a good cook” and as a result I eat out every meal and go broke, and possibly unhealthy?
Does “My daughter is a better driver” turn into “I’m a lousy driver” and I end up taking public transit or a cab everywhere, or totally opt out of going places?
Where does this end?
Attaching a meaning to the results of the comparison is what gets us.
When I compare my cooking skills to my cousin’s and realize she is better, I have the following options:
- I can ask her to teach me how to be a better cook
- I can ask her for recommendations on recipes to practice
- I can look for cooking classes to strengthen my skills
- I can go into a negative space in my head and determine that I’m a lousy cook. Not only that but I’m also fat and a terrible driver. I am a lousy person!
As Teddy Roosevelt suggested, comparison can be the thief of joy, if I make the result of this comparison mean something about me.
Without that attached meaning, comparison may actually turn out to be a good thing because it may create an opportunity to learn and grow.