The Truth and Dangers of Comparing Oneself to Others

In the summer of 2003 I took a job working at a private club in Denver, NC.  My college buddy needed an assistant golf pro and I needed a job so it seemed like a perfect fit.  I was coming to the end of my second stint attempting to play golf for a living and it was not working out.  For the nearly 2 years prior I had spent my life driving my Lincoln Towncar up and down the interstates from Virginia to Florida to Alabama to Florida and back to North Carolina. (read more Golf stories here.)

Forbes.com
Forbes.com

The life of a golf pro is not all it’s cracked up to be, although people’s reaction would make one believe I was on a top-secret mission to fix world hunger and cure cancer.  People are fascinated with the idea of playing some sport professionally envisioning the Ritz Carlton, valet parking, fine dining, fast cars and rubbing shoulders with stars.  The truth is you spend lots of time alone in crappy hotel rooms after very long days of driving or practicing/playing and the life gets very old when things are not going well; meaning, when you are playing well, life is good.  Unfortunately, often times playing well returns very little money which causes a lot of stress!

So many guys would lament about how they hated their job and how they could only wish to play golf for a living, like me.  Meanwhile, I am looking at them thinking the opposite.  “Man how nice would it be to only work 50 hours per week, have a steady paycheck, be at home, have weekends off and not have to struggle so much.  I am looking at them as they are looking at me; both of us comparing ourselves to the other.

So it was in this mentality that I took the job at the private country club in Denver.  My college buddy was a great guy that allowed me a ton of autonomy.  The job provided a steady paycheck, a percentage of the golf shop profit, a percentage of the club repair business, great benefits and I was allowed to teach as much as I wanted which could have resulted in adding another 25% to my bottom line.  I was excited.

As time went on I made a lot of friends, as is typical in the golf business (Hi Bert!) and I was able to get to know a lot of great people.  But I was not able to escape the “comparison syndrome.”  As I looked outward and saw others making more money, driving better cars, having country club memberships, living in bigger houses, owning better toys, etc. I began to compare myself to them.

I was right back to where I was as a professional golfer.  Looking outward and comparing myself to what others had; and this led to some rather large problems inside of me.

I read a quote this morning: ‘‘The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.’’ – Steven Furtick.  (see original post here.)

This quote made so much sense and inspired this post.  Think about the truth in these words: …”we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  When we look outward we can only see the superficial.  We cannot see the hurt, sadness, loneliness, insecurities, hate, apathy, discontent.  But when we see ourselves, we see all of this and more.  That is, when we suffer from the “comparison syndrome.”

When you spend time, as I once did, comparing yourself to others you are not giving yourself a fair shake.  It’s like comparing peanuts to a computer.  The comparison is neither equitable nor reasonable.

When I looked at myself I saw inadequacy, under achievement, failure, laziness and complacency.  When I looked outward I saw cars, houses, boats, money, memberships, great jobs, success.

See the problem?  One list is emotional while the latter is material.

image credit: unknown
image credit: unknown

When you compare you are usually making an emotional (you) comparison to the material (others), or I was at least.  We have no way to know if those with the things are truly content, fulfilled, successful, complete.  We just assume they are because the money, success, boat, makes them appear to be so.  But, what we don’t see is their alone time; their time at home when the doors are closed. The times that they drink all by themselves wishing their life was different or happier as they stand at their window watching others, wondering what someone else’s life is like.  Wanting, wishing that their life was a good and simple as that assistant pro, Danny.

I’m looking at them and they are looking at me.  One wanting the stuff, the other wanting the simplicity.  Neither realizing the answer lies deep inside, not outward.  (read more here)

I want to caution you to the endless cycle of comparison.  You will not find your fulfillment in seeking what others have.  You will not find what you crave comparing your supposed emotional deficiencies to the supposed fulfillment and possessions of others.

Do yourself a favor and change your thinking and start comparing yourself to what you truly desire.  Set your own goals that come from inside you, that are manufactured from your heart’s desire.  Once you find your true life-desire, you will be released from the prison of the “comparison syndrome.”  And then, and only then, will you find a little contentment.

Just a thought for a rainy Sunday morning…

Big Dreamer

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33 thoughts on “The Truth and Dangers of Comparing Oneself to Others

  1. Home-truth so nicely communicated, Danny. Comparison is odious in the context of living beings for the simple reason that no two human beings are alike; there is a uniqueness about each one, in the sum total of attributes and capabilities, passing through life based on individual road-map. It is, thus, an inferior mind that compares one’s backstage reality to someone else’s on-stage finery, to put it in the language of theatre. Understanding this truth brings contentment, and eggs one on to delve deep within, to continually engineer a better construct of oneself…best wishes… Raj.

    1. Absolutely. Often when I am at an engagement I will randomly ask someone what they desire in their heart: true desire. And lots of people don’t know! This is where one should begin the journey!

      1. Right! Knowing why we’re on the planet, our purpose…the *why* is critical. And even those of us who know our true desire need to remind ourselves of it regularly 😀

  2. A great post Danny I think one of your best that I’ve read. Another way of stating it is that we all need to look inside ourselves instead of outside at others. Thank you great words!

  3. Great advice, Danny. It seems that when we stop comparing we make room for happiness. Despite all the things in my life that haven’t gone my way, I wouldn’t change places with anyone else. 🙂

  4. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this, so your post today was perfectly timed! I am definitely happier when I stop comparing myself to others, but still fall into the trap from time to time.
    Excellent post!

    1. As the post says I spent years of my life wanting other’s life and stuff. I think the word is coveting. Now, I compare myself to myself and my performance. It is a much healthier mindset.

      1. I never really coveted what others had so much, but what they had definitely affected my opinion of my self-worth in terms of success. Not so much these days. I suppose that comes with life experience and awareness. I have evolved! But I am still a work in progress 🙂

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