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Photo Credit: Anderson’s All-Purpose Flickr via Compfight cc

I hate this word.

It’s a word that sets us up for failure.

It’s a word that results in too-high expectations for ourselves.

It’s a word that really does no good.

What word do I hate?

COMPARE

I’ve had conversations lately in which I’ve had to tell people to not compare themselves with others, mostly in the context of athletic achievements:

* “I’m not as fast as so-and-so…”

* “I’m not a naturally gifted athlete like XXX…”

* “Don’t look at my running pace! It’s so slow!”

I’ve run for years and years, and I’m slow. In almost every running event that I do, I’m for sure in the bottom half and usually the bottom two-thirds. But whatever — that’s just how I run. It doesn’t matter to me where I finish in comparison with other runners, because…

* I’m having fun.

* I’ll get something cool for finishing, like a t-shirt or medal (and free food!).

* I’m making a commitment to health and fitness.

* I’ve set a goal for myself (enter an event and train for it) and accomplished it.

The only comparison you should be making is to yourself. If you want to compete, compete with yourself. Can you improve upon your time the next time you complete a running event? Can you get into better shape? Can you do sit-up after sit-up after sit-up in determination to start to see maybe 1/6 of a six-pack?

Of course, some athletes are competitive and have the natural ability, dedication, and drive to actually win events that they enter. They do end up competing with other people. In that case, comparison and competition can be a good thing. But that’s a pretty elite group. I’m never going to actually win anything in my life, so I’m not going to beat myself up because I’m not as fast as some people.

Run YOUR race, no one else’s.

I see this in other areas, too, like in my writing circles. Some author out there is ALWAYS going to be doing more than you — writing more books, selling more books, getting media coverage, etc. What does that have to do with you? You just have to put your head down and do your work. Stop looking at others.

Evil comparison is probably most common in terms of body image. It’s easy to get sucked into looking at a cover model and thinking you need the same teeth, waist, legs, chest, skin, hair, etc. I admit I fall into this trap. But lately I’ve been thinking about what’s good for me. What makes me feel good? I’ve lived in my body for quite a while and I know where it should be and where I want it, for me.

Just do your own thing. Be who you want to be. Compete with yourself. Find satisfaction in bettering yourself for YOU. Be the best that you can be.

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