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Comparing Yourself to Others

We live in a competitive world. It’s easy to compare oneself to others. “They’re faster than I am. I’m thinner than they are. They’re stronger than I am. I did that better than they did!” Have you ever been in a group class and had your eyes wander to see how others are doing in class?

How beneficial is it to compare oneself to others? Maybe doing so helps one become more motivated to try to do better, which can be a good thing. There are fit bit challenges and other smart phone apps such as Nike or Map My Run that allow you to share your athletic endeavors with others so you can see what they’ve done and perhaps again compare yourself to others.

How about trying a different approach, a comparison with unique parameters? A friend once asked me to jog with her in Montana De Oro. She was training for a marathon and had asked friends to join her for various part of her long training run. I think I was her 3rd running buddy. I don’t remember where she was in her combined distance by the time we started running together, but suffice it to say, it was not her first 10 miles. My friend and I took the run nice and easy. When I was done, she took a little break, and then kept running.

That particular time with my friend made quite an impression. When I run, exercise or even dance, if I start to compare myself to others, I reflect back on that time I shared running with my friend. Often I pass someone, or am passed without knowing what the story is. For all I know the person I just passed running could have had any number of reasons for going at a slower pace. They could have done a challenging athletic endeavor the day before and this is their recovery jog. They could have recently injured themselves and are taking it easy as they get back into their groove. They could have had an illness that debilitated them and they do not want to risk getting ill again by pushing too hard. They could have suffered a great loss and are grieving and this is all they’ve got. The list can go on.

In physical therapy, people with similar surgeries or injuries often rehabilitate at different rates. You may be doing better than Mrs. Jones. However, Mrs. Jones may have a medical history such as diabetes or is a cancer survivor. We never know. Since we can never know exactly what another is going through, I find it best just to focus on oneself. You can still compete against yourself by improving your performance. Just focus on yourself and try to be the best you can be for this moment.

So whether we are at physical therapy, at a gym or out and about in nature, I suggest catching oneself if you start to compare yourself to others. Gently turn the focus inwards, be present and try to do the best you can at what you’re currently doing. A comparison all your own is a satisfying end to your endeavor.

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