Everybody knows you shouldn’t compare yourself to someone else. I mean there are tons of quotes on Pinterest telling you not to compare yourself. In face, you can find the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” with dozens of different design options.
But Carla AKA MizFit recently raised the question of whether you should compare yourself to yourself. Again, if you check Pinterest, you’ll see that you should only compare yourself to the you of yesterday.
But really, should you? Is that really any healthier?
Should I compare myself to what it looked like when I was younger?
Look! No grey hair! No wrinkles! No under eye bags!
When I hadn’t had kids yet? Or even after I had kids when I was super skinny from nursing?
Legs like that only happen when I’m NOT running LOL.
Or should I compare my current job situation to what I was doing before I decided to take some time off for my kids?
Or should I look at my house and compare it to what it was like when it was just Beer Geek and myself and two people’s worth of stuff?
Obviously, the answer to those questions is no. Because there is nothing to be gained by comparing yourself to something you can’t go back to. I will never be 25 or 30 or 35 again. I made career choices that make it unlikely I will ever follow my old path again. And my house will not be uncluttered until we are “empty nesters”.
But is there something to be gained by comparing your current self to your yesterday self?
Only if that comparison is for the purpose of figuring out what worked in the past, rather than to knock yourself down.
There are things to be learned from your past actions. Maybe you had a workout regime that really worked for you that helped you run faster, but it fell by the wayside. Maybe you used to have a habit of cleaning up a certain hotspot at a certain time that used to keep your house neater. Maybe there was a time when you were better about eating healthier foods, instead of the junk food habit you’ve fallen into.
This body I could do again because it was the result of actually lifting weights.
Learning from your past successes (and failures) can be useful. Looking at how far you’ve come in some areas can help you snap out of a “feeling sorry for yourself” mode. When I compare my faster, stronger RNR USA half marathon with the slow, hurt so bad half marathon this weekend, I could feel bad about myself. Or I could learn from it. In this instance, I’ve learned that I need so run more hills LOL.
I don’t think there is a wrong or right answer. It all depends on what you do with the comparison. Whether you learn from it or let it bring you down is up to you. (I feel this same way about scales and credit cards – they can be useful tools or they can be something you need to banish. It all depends on how you use it.)
What do you think? Comparison to yourself – good or bad? Want to read what Carla had to say?
Don’t forget to enter my RoadID giveaway!
9 thoughts on “The Comparison Trap – do you fall into it?”
This is a great topic. I try not to compare myself to my younger self…it just isn’t fair! But it is good to look back to figure out what worked and what didn’t, especially after a “bad” race. I just had one of those myself…a half in which my finish time was a full 16 minutes longer than one I did 5 months ago. What was different? Well, the conditions were completely different. The speedy one? It was 45 degrees and sunny. The slow one? A destination race, it was hot and humid, which I wasn’t acclimated to. I can’t blame my training.
Was I disappointed? Heck yeah! But I have another half coming up in May, here in Chicago, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to redeem myself…
Great perspective – there are definitely lessons to be learned in comparing yourself to a previous version, but it is hard not to let some of the negatives creep in. A delicate balancing act for sure!
I love this- and it is so true. I stopped comparing myself to others finally (mostly)- but always have voices in my head reminding me of what I was or what I could do once upon a time. I think my hip injury actually helped me, because I realized that I was truly starting from scratch.
I can’t say that I spend much time comparing myself to my younger version. I tend more to look forward to where I’m going and what my next goals are rather than where I’ve been.
I don’t know if I really compare myself to my how I used to be – I know I can’t go back to those younger days. I do try to be the best current version of myself I can be so that probably does involve some comparison.
Great perspective. I shouldn’t compare myself to certain parts of my past as I wasn’t really all that healthy, and mentally, phew, that’s a whole other story! I really had to laugh about the gray hairs/no bags under eyes pre kids stage, so very very true too!
Ooh! Love your take on this. I’m still mulling over mine. 😉
Comparison is beneficial if it is used to make a decision (this TV is better than that TV) or if it leads to growth. I think it is OK to compare yourself to another person if the situation is similar (and if it is a means to understand something to help you improve/grow). For example, you notice that compared to you Gabby (fictional person) appears to have much more pep and doesn’t seem to be tired (physically) after three marathons in three days. This is an opportunity to talk to Gabby about training, diet, supplements, etc. to see if there is something you can change or do better. That said, comparison for the sake of ascertaining who is “better” provides no value whatsoever.
I say compare yourself to the recent past only! And by recent, I mean within the past year!