Comparing Yourself With Others

Someone once said, "Comparison is the root of all inferiority," and how true that is.

When you look at another person's strengths and compare them to your own weaknesses, there is just no way to come out feeling good about yourself. Young people are especially vulnerable to the game of comparison.

A while back I was speaking to a group of teenagers at a conference, and I'll never forget the question posed by one young man. He said, "It seems that everyone has more to offer than I do. I envy the guys who are better looking than I am or more athletic or smarter. I just don't measure up. How can I deal with my own insecurities?"

The problem he was describing is a common one among young men and women. Even at a young age, our self-images are shaped by how we stack up against our peers. It's not how tall we are that matters -- it's who is the tallest. It's not how fast we can run -- it's who runs fastest. It's not how smart we are -- it's who is the smartest. Thus begins a pattern of self-doubt that often becomes all-consuming during adolescence.

The answer I gave that young man is one that many teenagers need to hear: When you pit yourself against the best and brightest, you are merely setting yourself up for failure.

Mental health begins with an acceptance of life as it is and a willingness to make the most of the unique strengths and talents you've been given. When that is achieved, comparison with others is no longer a relevant issue.

With Focus on the Family, I'm Dr. James Dobson.

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