Competition with and comparison to others is the root of all unhappiness, the thief of joy. There is always someone with more than you, just as there is always someone with less. It’s a dangerous game to play. When we focus on those who have more, we feed our jealousy and greed. It robs us of contentment with what we have. When we focus on those who have less, we can easily slip into pride, boastfulness, and arrogance. We still operate from a place of envy disguised as happiness, all because we have more than someone. We’re focused on the wrong thing. Comparison and competition cloud our self-perception, making us believe we only matter in the context of someone else’s success or lack thereof.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Unfortunately, we have been taught that to get ahead, one has to compare, compete, and take advantage of others. And we see evidence of these behaviors all around us.
Yet as we begin to recover from our addictions, we begin to see that comparison and competition are both forms of external referenting. When we compare, we become jealous, feel bad about ourselves, find ourselves becoming resentful, and end up not liking ourselves much. When we compete, we treat others as objects, become ruthless, and justify our destructive behavior. When we take advantage of others, we lose the opportunity of relationships, we become people we do not really like, and ultimately we lose. Any of these behaviors threatens our serenity and our recovery.”
Women are especially susceptible to comparing and competing with other women, because that is what society has programmed us to do. Rather than cooperate and work together to help one another accomplish more than any of us could individually (and this is for all people in general), we believe we must compete against each other. There’s a false sense of scarcity. We’re made to believe that there aren’t enough jobs, money, or success to go around. In order to get ahead, we we have to be cutthroat. We must tear others down in order for us to get ahead. This is just not true. It doesn’t further our cause, and it actually makes us feel worse. There is no joy to be had in success that comes at the expense of someone else. It threatens the progress we’ve made in our recovery. We continue to learn what it means to stay sober. It is not always an easy journey but it is worth it.