Is there any good reason to compare yourself to others?

Would it surprise you if I said, “Yes!”

Social Comparison Theory is an area getting lots of attention as we have more social media than ever, but is also helpful in our social circles.

And it is done at the earliest of ages. Small children see what the older ones are doing as they learn new skills. Kids are tested and know how they did in comparison to others.

We learn social behaviors by comparison. When to speak up, when to wait, thank others, etc. Valuable life lessons are learned this way and we understand the cultural context of the setting we are in.

We run into problems when our self-image is threatened by comparisons.

If we see another perform well and we don’t identify with that action, then it doesn’t affect us. In fact we can be happy for the person because they are doing well at their chosen task.

It is not so helpful when we see another’s success and our self-image is compared to theirs. When we know we don’t measure up to their success. That can lead to negativity, jealousy and resentment. Not places we want to be.

One reason people compare themselves to others is that they say it makes them feel better. “After all I have my problems, but I’m not as bad as ___________.” They get a boost to their self-esteem that can boost their confidence. Or so they say.

The problem with this thinking is that all it takes to crumble the feeling is the person you are comparing yourself to doing something that is better than what they were before.

Comparing ourselves to others does not give us true self-esteem or confidence.

It may help us recognize areas where we could improve or help us realize goals by identifying things others are doing that we can do to achieve our goals.

Focus on your strengths, accomplishments and what you are doing to reach your goals.

When it comes to our self-image, the only person we should be comparing ourselves to is who we were yesterday and acknowledging the improvements we are making.


“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Ernest Hemingway