Comparisonitis is a chronic disease. From what I can tell in my completely unscientific research, it can go into remission and you can live your life well, if you manage it. (Typical rules apply: get enough laughter, sleep, and perspective of good friends.) But it can always flare back up.
To manage it, we must realize there is no perfection. The person who flies on Netjets probably worries because he doesn’t own a jet. The person who has a job worries about the others who have better title. The person who is seeking work worries because it’s been so long since gainful employment. Across any economic system, there is someone else we can compare ourselves to, and find ourselves wanting. Whether we find ways to look down on others (because we enjoy more talent, intellect, status, good looks, or wealth), or whether look down on ourselves and envy others because we feel we are not as capable, smart, powerful, or rich as they – both of these two sides of the coin buy into a same darkness.
The cost to this darkness is huge. Comparisonities create a separation between people; it is the ultimate in hierarchical thinking that says any one of us are better than the other. It leads to disharmony, not harmony. It leads to hate, not love. It leads to consumption not satisfaction. All of this leads to separation, not connection.
The only thing we need lies within us already. What we most need is our own approval, our own acceptance of our work. Everything outside of that is outside of our control. When we realize that we are already enough, as is, we set ourselves free from this terrible, vile, disfiguring disease. Power cannot come from others. Power comes first from self. When we spend time in doubt and fear of what we are not, we are not spending time on the work before us to do the best and let what comes, come. For me, that is to do the work of shaping concepts, or to make a lunch date with my stepdaughters, or practice the art of speaking and writing on ideas that matter. To do the work, with error and shortcoming, but with enthusiasm and great devotion – that is what is worthy as Theodore Roosevelt once said. That is the way we fight comparisonitis: to put the attention back on the work that needs to get done that are each of us are uniquely called on to do.
It would be so much easier to deny being infected by comparisonitis. But to own it when it happens lets us have more power over it than it over us. Only then can we conquer the disease.
Thanks, Nilofer. Many of us needed this! You can follow the ‘via’ link if you’d like to read the rest of her perspective…