Comparison is often regarded as a catalyst for discrimination, jealousy, anger, envy and low self-esteem. Nevertheless the mind frequently compares things. There are different types of comparisons some of which should be avoided.
The popular saying “there’s no need to compare” is often used to shut down attempts at comparison in a conversation. The idea that comparison leads to unhealthy competition ignores the benefits of certain types of comparison.
Types Of Comparison
Like most things comparison has a negative and positive side. The inclusion or exclusion of value judgments determines the effect of a comparison. Value judgments are opinions about whether something is wrong or right, good or bad or worthy or unworthy. Value judgments center around words like good, bad, worthy, unworthy, wrong and right. These concepts interfere with comparison in daily life. Although value judgments are useful in some situations they are frequently incorporated unnecessarily in comparisons. Misuse of these judgments pave the way for negative over-thinking, conceit or depression.
An objective comparison would be: Becca is rich and Jacqueline is poor. Adding value judgments to this comparison would corrupt it into: Becca is better than Jacqueline because she is rich and Jacqueline is poor.
Adding value judgments often generates negative emotions in the individual who is belittled by the comparison. For example if Floyd compares his 40% to his best friend’s 98% math test result, he will feel inferior if he incorporates value judgments into this comparison. The 98% and 40% comparison is factual but incorporated into this may be baseless feelings and opinions of insecurity. If Floyd focuses only on the facts he could go on to compare other relevant factors such as study time, methods and diet. This could lead to his discovery of the real differences leading to his failure as against his friend’s high achievement.
Taylor and Elizabeth have been employed by the same company for ten years. During that time Elizabeth has purchased a spacious house while Taylor still rents a small apartment. Taylor becomes depressed when she compares herself to Elizabeth. Negative thoughts proliferate:
“She is better than me because she is more responsible.”
“She is more respectable.”
Taylor’s poor money management skills does not warrant negative self talk or make her inferior to her friend. A positive perspective would cause her to be motivated and inspired by her friend’s success.
People like Taylor and Floyd will go on feeling bad about themselves and never do anything to change their situations unless they adopt positive lessons from comparison instead of using it as a measure of superiority or inferiority.
The tables demonstrate comparisons with and without value judgments. Notice the comparisons with value judgments are complicated and stressful while the ones without are straightforward and helpful.
There are serious implications when persons in positions of power make faulty comparisons. Innocent people may even be imprisoned when judges, police officers and jurors evaluate them based on model citizen ideals.
Perhaps scientists are the best users of comparisons.
Usefulness Of Comparison
In the absence of value judgments useful information may be gained from comparisons. In this regard it is useful to study successful people especially if they excel in areas that we are also interested in. “Study the greats and become greater” was said by Michael Jackson and later echoed by Diddy. They obviously took their own advice. Through comparison we may identify the features, practices and characteristics shared by great people. We can compare this to our features, practices and characteristics to see what we have in common with them. This information helps us to make smart adjustments and create better ways of doing things. Using comparison like this is not a green light for imitation. Individuals who excel in their respective fields share qualities that help them to nurture their unique style. You may use these qualities to do the same. Some common underlying qualities of success are diligence, dedication and persistence.
Comparison Can’t Define You
Comparison is examining two or more objects, ideas or people to note similarities or differences. Keep that definition in mind and keep it simple by not incorporating unwarranted judgments.