The Only Person You Need To Compare Yourself To Is You

We will not see ourselves if we do not look.

James E. McGinley, PhD


Man walking along a street alone.
Photo by David McEachan on Pexels

We live in a world of endless mirrors. The world is constantly reflecting the image of ourselves and others upon us. We naturally fall into a comparison trap. We lose our real selves in the clutter. We only know ourselves secondhand by comparing ourselves to others.

But there is a way out.

The reality is this, the only person you need to compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.

We are not what others say we are.

Unfortunately, our assessment of ourselves gets tangled up with everyone else’s assessment of us. In psychology this is sometimes referred to as the looking glass self. We use others as a mirror. We learn to measure our self-worth based on everyone else’s opinion. What they reflect back to us is what we believe to be true.

This is the age-old problem of perception being reality. We learn that what others believe to be true is more important and more real than what is actually true.

The looking glass self is a perceptive trap. Others see us. We think about what they see. But we also think about what they might see. We think about what they will think about us before it even happens. Before long we are lost in our own worries and in judgments that have not even happened yet. We need to clear some mental space so we can see ourselves.

Whether recognized or not, our inner beauty still exists.

Imagine you buried a beautiful piece of jade in a muddy field. Would the jade itself be any less beautiful? Would the mud and dirt cast on it change its essence? No, the jade would remain jade. Its beauty would only be waiting to be discovered. Sometimes we are like that. Our beauty is not always recognized either, by others or by ourselves.

We are not who we were yesterday.

There is a story of man who went to the Buddha to complain. He was a businessman and angrily complained that his workers had left to engage in meaningless contemplation, leaving his business in danger. Overnight he reconsidered what he had said and went back to the Buddha to apologize…



James E. McGinley, PhD

James McGinley, PhD is a professor, author, certified life coach, and licensed counselor.