In the past week I wrote about competition at the workplace which can even make people fall into depression, have a breakdown and burn out. This competition is not only at the working place however, it can be in every other area of your life as well – if you want to live in this constant pressure! It is really pretty much up to you: how much do you want to compete and compare and how much do you want to focus on yourself?
It is really no wonder that a lot of people get stressed because in today’s society it is normal to compete with each other. For competing you need to compare yourself with others in order to find out who is doing better or worse. You can do that in nearly every area of life and many people are doing exactly that. They don’t only have a competition with their co-workers but they compare how far their own career went with how far their former classmates have come. They compare how fast or long they can run on the treadmill in the gym with how fast their friends can. They compare not only how much they earn but also how much their partner earns with how much their neighbours earn. They compare their own looks with the looks even of complete strangers! They compare what they are reading in their free time with what other people at the pool or beach or in the metro are reading. Am I more intelligent? Am I more successful? Am I more beautiful? Am I faster, higher, better?
Only if the answer to each of these questions is ‘Yes!’, they will be satisfied. If you also have the tendency to do this, you will know exactly what I mean. You permanently make comparisons, repeatedly looking at yourself and then at others, getting a positive push for your mood if you win that comparison and getting upset if you don’t.
The problem is that you are thus concentrating completely on others and identifying yourself through these comparisons. Who are you? I am faster than Jack in running, I am more successful than Jasmine at work, I am a better parent than the Millers next door! It is all on the outside, defined by how far others have come and where you are. You don’t actually relate to your inner values, you maybe don’t even know about them because you are constantly focusing on the outside.
You cannot always win and obviously, losing again and again creates more and more stress! Perfectionists and people with a high level of self-expectation will feel this even more, all adding to the pressure that today’s hectic life anyway creates. This is how even someone who does not have a very high-profile job or even someone who is not employed or working at all can also face burnout.
You have to learn to value yourself because of who you are. You don’t need to always be the best and the first – in fact, you cannot! Nobody can! Accept that you are doing your best and that your talents may not lie on all fields at the same time.
If you need help in changing this habit, try meditating every day for at least a short time or try reminding yourself several times a day that you should not compare yourself to others. Whenever you feel down, find out why – is it because you feel inferior to someone else? Get out of the feeling, remind yourself that you both are humans and thus of the same value, just with different qualities.
Stop comparing yourself to others and be happy!