I feel inferior to my friends and co-workers. My husband says that I shouldn’t compare myself to other people, but I can’t help it. I do, and it just stinks to always feel like the loser. How can I change these feelings?
– Feeling Like a Loser
Dear Feeling Like a Loser,
The path to feeling like a winner begins with a peaceful acceptance of yourself.
When you compare yourself to others, there is a built-in resistance to accepting who you are. In essence, you are saying that you are only good enough if you are ‘better than’ someone else — and the measurement of your worth is dependent upon how many ‘someone else’s’ you feel better than. Chances are that you already feel more accomplished than some people, but are discounting those comparisons because those people, for some reason, don’t count. Your self-worth is based on feeling better than those about whom you feel you can’t win in comparison. It is a vicious cycle that will leave you feeling anxious and unworthy.
Finding peace within yourself often has a spiritual component, but it does not have to be. What you are striving toward knowing is that when you are still, in the deep darkness of your being, we are all the same, and we all have possibility. What sabotages your peace and possibility is fear.
The fear manifests itself in the thoughts you tell yourself every day about yourself and others and the consequent emotions. Change the thoughts, and you will change the emotions. Changing the thoughts is possible; it is frequently the goal in therapy, but it takes time and commitment. It sounds like your fearful thoughts tell you that you are not good enough. The goal would be to shift how you view yourself based on how you feel you measure up to others toward a foundation of self-acceptance which measures progress against realistic standards, possibilities, and goals that fit for you. As you may guess, personal history and how one responds to it, to a large extent, shapes one’s greatest vulnerabilities.
With the help of a therapist, you can build awareness about the negative thoughts and their triggers and work to reframe them into more realistic, self-accepting, and empowering ones.