by Judith Orloff, MD

comparing-applesAs a psychiatrist, I realize that comparing is a natural tendency we all have. It can be absolutely neutral, as when you merely evaluate similarities and differences. Such comparison is essential for astute reasoning. It’s also productive if you’re inspired to emulate another’s impressive traits. However, it becomes dysfunctional when it stirs envy and jealousy, if you judge yourself as better as or less than others. Think about it: without comparisons jealousy and envy couldn’t exist. Interestingly, it’s more common to feel inferior to those with “more” than to feel grateful compared to those with “less.”

We’re a society of comparison junkies. It starts from day one. Babies are compared to each other. Who’s smarter, cuter, more precocious? Then comes grammar school. I remember a hideous game some of my king-of-the-hill classmates would play. They’d pick a target, usually the shy, insecure student. Then, in a taunting tone they’d sing in unison, “There’s a fungus among us. Her name is (fill in the blank) fungus” until the poor kid, totally humiliated, slunk away. So, at school, there were basically the funguses and the non-funguses. Not so different from the breakdown of our comparisons in later life, interpersonally and politically. Shiites and Sunnis. White Supremacists versus Jews and Blacks. Protestants and Catholics in Belfast. Comparing yourself to others can preclude a bond of common fellowship and is a disservice to finding true worth. Either you’ll end up with the short end of the stick, or, if you deign to put yourself above anyone, you’re nowhere. (No one is above anyone else.) Self-esteem must come from simply being you.


1 2 3 4

About The Author

OMTimes Magazine - Co-Creating a More Conscious Reality