Why do we compare ourselves to others and how is it damaging us?
In the world we live in its difficult not to be drawn in by what others do, or do not, do, we watch them on our Social Media platforms, we read about it in magazines, we hear about it via other people, the ability to find out what we want to is right at our fingertips via smartphones. With the ever-increasing use of Social Media to show off what we have achieved, purchased, acquired, won, lost, even eaten for our lunch(!!) its hardly surprising that we end up comparing our own lives with that of others. We want what Joe Bloggs has got, and we want it now, simply because they have what you want, even though you probably don’t even need it! In my day we would use the term “Keeping up with the Jones’”!
A very good example of this would be something I heard only the other day, “I NEED a new saddle”, why? I asked, “well, I was at an event the other day and I was the only person there that had an old style saddle”, my first reaction was “At least you have a saddle!”, “But its old” exclaimed the person, “Yes but you have a saddle which is safe and reliable, suits (and fits!) your horse and is comfortable”, “but it looked old “COMPARED” to the others in there and I felt out of place”. I didn’t bother arguing the toss, I simply nodded and moved on. Now, this person felt that he was not as good as the other people there as they had newer saddles, which made her feel awkward and out of place, which as a knock on action, admitted by her, didn’t help her ride well that day! Well I’m no expert here, however I would say that the other people may not have even noticed her saddle, nor cared about it, but to her, this was a MASSIVE deal, with a real negative effect on her ability to ride purely because she had compared her comfortable, safe and well fitted saddle to other peoples.
Yes, it’s always nice to have the latest things, whether that be a new saddle, car, trailer, tv, smartphone etc, however we must always start with the question “Do I NEED it?” If the answer to that question is yes, but only to be like *insert whoever’s name here*, then NO you don’t need it!
When we COMPARE ourselves, our lives, to others we are not living OUR lives, we are living theirs, we may want to ride Dressage tests like Charlotte, or whoever your idol is, and aiming to be better is a good thing, but if we compare our riding ability to the likes of Charlotte then become disheartened by the fact that we can’t sit to the trot like we are glued to the saddle, this inevitably brings with it disappointment, leading to feelings of failure. All due to comparison.
The same can be said for training, one of my pet hates is hearing riders say “I cant do that”, and the “THAT” could be literally anything, a recent example is a rider watching someone else jumping, the rider said “Oh I can’t do that, she’s way better than me,” in reality the negativity could easily have been turned around simply by thinking “One day I WILL do that”, she had compared her current ability to that of a rider who had many years experience under her belt and made it look easy, which to her it was, however to the other rider it looked impossible, and all down to comparison.
Comparison doesn’t always need to be negative though, if we want to use it positively then how about comparing what YOU have achieved, and this can be a simple thing like – I hacked round the block today – OR – Last month I struggled to sit to my horses trot, but today I managed it- these comparisons are positive and rewarding.
We live in a world fuelled by negativity from every angle, the news reports tragedy and sadness daily, Social Media has its own issues with the infamous keyboard warriors, and to top it all off we are fed images and news of what we SHOULD BE, what we SHOULD DO, how we SHOULD DRESS, what food we SHOULD EAT, and the list goes on!
In my honest opinion what we SHOULD BE is true to ourselves, work on self-improvement and only ever COMPARE ourselves to ourselves. I’m almost certain that if we put as much effort into improving ourselves, we would be much happier and much more successful.
Go ahead and see where you can make your changes, let me know!