Question from a reader -
I often compare my life to others, especially to successful persons.
It doesn't do any good to me. I feel such an injustice and get angry
Even if rationally I know that it's stupid and that there are people
who got a way harder life than myself.
Do you know how to deal with that ?
I also compare myself to other people, but I try not to make value judgments. I go, "Okay, he's good at sales. I'm not so good at sales. Do I want to be good at sales like him? If so, I should ask how he learned and get book recommendations from him, and read them, and follow any advice he gives me." Or I say, "Ah, this guy knows a lot about design and I'm weak in that area. Do I want to be good at design...? Hmm, no, not really. You can't be good at everything and that's one I don't want to be good at. Okay, but he's good at it, maybe I could hire him or partner with him if I had a task that required great design and something I'm good at." Or, "Hey, this guy is superbly dressed, he really stands out. Huh, I think I dress well but he looks sharper than me. Let me observe and see what he's doing, perhaps I can learn from him."
I think the bad feelings aren't because of comparing yourself to others, which is fine and basically everyone does it. But rather it's likely because you compare yourself to others and then feel bad that you're not where they're at, and/or you don't feel like you could get where they're at. So I wouldn't recommend ceasing to compare yourself (everyone does this to some extent), but rather to use comparison in a way that's beneficial to you. IE, look for ways you can improve, work together, mutually gain, etc. This requires less value judging and more calm, rational analysis.
Hope that helps.
Yes, “You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it” is a bit worn and cliched. It is also demonstrably untrue. No matter how much I apply my mind to it, I'll never (for example). Some things genuinely are impossible. But that's not the question here.
A much better way of looking at it was posted by Judd Weiss a while back: What Are You Capable Of?. Not "You can do anything", but "What one man can do, so can another".
The timing of this post is almost uncanny... Being in a similar situation, I find myself getting discouraged.
I think what's more discouraging to me is whether I can admit to myself or not a if a particular skill or trade is within my abilities or not. I find it difficult to accept that I'll never be able to do certain things because of pure genetics/circumstances. The old adage "You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it" is easily gobbled up by self-help/self-improvement junkies...
What's cyclothymia? It's a mild form of the docs used to call "manic-depression," but which they re-name periodically. Cyclothymics can actually function decently well, and as such often don't know they've got it. If you cycle through highs and lows, are particularly artistic, or that describes someone you love, then read this post in full and please comment with your own experience. I'm still learning, myself.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CYCLOTHYMIA
Knowing the term "Cyclothymia" would have been very helpful to me a few years ago. This essay is plain English and, if I've done a good job, might help people who associate with a cyclothymic relate better to them, and might help a cyclothymic manage themselves better and produce better.
I'm against the "medical-ization" of life. We need medical terms, but we need to be able to explain things in plain English without labeling. Labeling, by definition, drastically simplifies.
Cyclothymia is simple at its roots, simple enough for a plain discussion without medicalization. Here's how it works for me -
I slept most of the flight from San Francisco to Vancouver. I was up until one thirty in the morning the night before, and had to wake up at five in order to get to the airport on time, so I was exhausted. Upon arriving in Vancouver I shuffled half-asleep to the customs station, which I had to go through even though I was only connecting through Vancouver, not stopping there.
The agent asks my name, where I'm going, all the usual stuff. I reply, giving short answers. I always give short answers in customs because first, I'm sort of offended at how they treat you as though you're some kind of criminal, and two, because I figure the agent just wants to hear a succint answer and get on with her day.
"Where are your other bags?"
"I don't have any."