Imagine this. You walk into the gym. There’s the general crowd: The two people who always seem to be socializing instead of working out. The skinny guy who is trying super hard to bulk up but can’t seem to break through. “Man, I’m small… but he’s SMALL.” Two dudes benching, one of which sounds like he is in labor because he’s going so hard, the other hanging the IV bag of Pitocin in the form of verbal support. “I’ll never THAT guy,” you think to yourself. As you set your bag down and get ready to warm up, you see the guy on the pull-up bar knocking each and every set out effortlessly. “Man. He’s good. Seems impossible, almost. I’ll never get there. But hey, at least I’m not making weird noises like those dudes on the bench.” In those two minutes that it took you to walk through the gym, you’ve already compared yourself to a few groups of people. In this article, I’m going to tell you why it’s a trap.
I recently found myself doing this. Hindsight is always 20/20, but in the moment it can be hard to see what you’re doing to yourself by comparing yourself to others. Also, before I get too deep into the subject, I just want to mention that there are positives to this but many times it’s simply more detrimental than beneficial. As Admiral Ackbar would say: “It’s a trap!”
Take my first example, the skinny guy. All you’ve done is make a mental note that he’s smaller than you, right? Wrong. By making that comparison, you’ve told yourself that you’re OK with where you currently stand. No need to try and get better, right? You’ve made yourself comfortable and begin to lose the sense of urgency to continue improving yourself.
Don’t be fooled. This extends far beyond the walls of your gym. You see it everywhere. The looks some people give others; you can see it in their eyes. “I’m out of their league.” “I’m better than they are.” We say these things to feel better about ourselves. To be comfortable. Once you begin to be complacent with where you stand you’ll become stagnant, never striving for anything greater.
Now we’ll look at the guy on the pull-up bar. “Wow. Was that twenty-four straight pull-ups? I think I can do like three?” In this situation, you have again compared yourself to another person. However, this time you’re thinking “He’s out of my league.” You’ve immediately sold yourself short. Again, it extends beyond those gym walls. Think about it like this: Your ex-girlfriend starts dating someone new. The natural reaction is to say “What does her new boyfriend have that I don’t?” You tell yourself you’ll never be as good as them. That you’ll never achieve what they’ve achieved. Eventually, you’ll convince yourself that you’ve reached the greatest potential you’ll ever achieve. Trust me when I tell you: this type of complacency only reaps destruction.
Let me tell you one thing I truly despise: The “league” statements. “She’s out of my league.” “I’m out of his league.” In fact, any of those “league” statements are a subtle poison that will do nothing but corrode you from the inside out. We’re all humans. We’re all in the SAME league. Once you begin to tell yourself that, you’ll stop belittling those who you once thought lower than you, and you won’t idolize those who you once thought were greater than you. You also will begin to break that stagnant cycle, and you’ll strive for greater things.
Of course comparing yourself to others is a hard habit to break, or even control. I’ve only just started to get a handle on it but I promise you that it will free you from the limits you’ve set upon yourself.
Compare yourself to yourself. If you’ve taken a step back, begin striving for that goal of yours. Never lose sight of it. Fuel yourself.
If you are in a better place than you were a week ago, then bravo. Keep the momentum. Always keep going.
Remember, this life is YOUR journey. Don’t get so caught up in the idea of others that you forget to live your life to the fullest every single day.