Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Don’t suffer by comparison: Focus on being the best you

July 25, 2023

It’s natural to compare ourselves to others. We know we shouldn’t do it. But we do — almost every day in some form.  

Comparison is a double-edged sword. While comparison can serve as a source of motivation, it also can be destructive. As Theodore Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Many forms of comparison can harm self-esteem and lead to unhappiness. They include social comparison, body comparison and competition.

Social comparison refers to a behavior in which we compare certain aspects of ourselves to others. That can include everything from income, homes and job titles to Facebook likes, popularity and relationships. By participating in this type of comparison, we often reach the conclusion we’re “not as good as others.” This assessment is false and can lead to discontentment.  

Body comparisons constitute a sure way to burst a positive body image. Making appearance-based comparisons can influence the way we view our own bodies. It can lead to finding imperfections and disliking our bodies. This is especially true at a time when perfected body types and beauty standards are so apparent in the media. The alternative? Embrace you are uniquely you. 

It’s normal to compare yourself to others when you’re working out. But that also can affect your mental health and enjoyment. For example, you’re participating in a yoga class and everyone seems more flexible. Or you’re walking on a treadmill and the person next to you is running on an incline. Or you’re lifting weights lighter than everyone else is lifting. Comparing flexibility, endurance or strength to others at the gym, or anywhere, doesn’t matter. Their fitness levels are irrelevant. Concentrate instead on you.  

It might help to consider where they started. How much time did it take them to achieve those levels? How much effort did they put into achieving their goals? Is it your goal to match or beat them? It’s better to set your own goals and work toward them at your pace.

.Competition comparison refers to comparisons among athletes or athletic events. Knowing, not comparing, the abilities of your competitors is key. This comparison can be motivating.  

Personal comparison is where you make comparisons about yourself. What you used to to do, perhaps when you were younger. The natural progression of aging reduces strength and stamina. A 70-year-old athlete comparing himself with his performance as a 25 year old can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Push yourself to be your best at your current age. Country singer Toby Keith put it best in his lyrics: “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” 

Learning and practicing some basic skills can help you stop comparing yourself to others. Begin by practicing gratitude for your life. Acknowledge your strengths, not your weaknesses. Remain content with who you are as a person. By turning your focus inward, it becomes about you and not others.  

Start being better at what really matters — being you.

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