One of the most intriguing patterns that most people do at some stage is to look at someone else, (usually someone who they think is wonderful, good looking and successful) compare them to themselves and start listing all the reasons why they are better than them and why there is no point in even trying to be as good as them.

This is a commonly used strategy for a lot of people and it stops them from trying new things before they even begin.

I remember speaking to a friend of mine at a dinner party who has an interest in modern art.

After a fairly lengthy chat we naturally moved onto the subject of art and I asked her what her future plans were. She replied to me by telling me how de-motivated she was and that she just couldn’t seem to get herself into the right frame of mind to produce any artwork worthy of note.

When I asked her what was stopping her from feeling motivated her reply was fascinating. She said,

“Well it all started when I went to an art exhibition the other day and almost every piece of work was incredible…nearly perfect in every way…and I thought to myself…there is no way I can ever be as good as this so what’s the point in even trying”

People do this in social situations regularly. They walk into a party and start picking out all the people they think are better looking, more interesting and more successful than them, compare them with themselves and feel bad about it. Or probably just as common, they read magazines or watch movies and start comparing themselves to Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie and wonder why anyone would find them attractive because they don’t look anywhere near as good…I mean…come on…they're two of the best looking and most successful people on the planet! It’s hardly a fair comparison.

It also happens for people when they attempt to learn a new skill.

For some reason or another, a lot of people have the tendency to look at someone who does something really well, who demonstrates a high level of skill in something they are attempting to do, compare themselves to them, feel helpless and de-motivated and then consequently make no attempt to even start.

The reality of the situation, however, is that to hold on to this idea is completely and utterly ridiculous!

Adopting this kind of attitude is a little bit like deciding to learn how to play golf and then saying to yourself, ‘oh what’s the point, I’m not as good as Tiger woods so there’s no point in even starting!”

In fact, when you really think about it, because someone has managed to become exquisitely good at something actually means that you are more likely to become good at that skill.

Due to the fact that you can learn from them and find out what they did to become as skilled as they have, your chances of learning that skill become greatly increased.

Also, when it comes to looks and attraction, it is such a subjective experience that it’s not a fair comparison. Everyone has had the experience where they meet someone who they didn’t find attractive at first but then once they got to know them they started looking much more attractive. Yes, some people are ‘classically’ better looking than others and will look initially more attractive if you were to look at them in a photograph but as soon as you introduce personality into the equation they start to look completely different to the eyes of those looking on.

Therefore, rather than comparing yourself to someone who is excellent at what they do or who you think is better looking, more attractive and more successful, compare yourself with yourself.

Now, at first glance, this may seem like a strange concept but it is an extremely effective and stress free way to live your life and learn a new skill. The key is to notice where you are at the moment then, as you start to practice your new skills and develop as a person, notice how much you are improving in comparison to how you were when you started.

One of my close friends summed it up perfectly while we were enjoying a round of golf together. Someone had asked him if he thought he was a better golfer than the rest of his friends and he replied, “I have absolutely no idea…all I know is that I am roughly twice as good a golfer as I was this time last year.”

By making this shift in attitude it enables you to focus your attention on your own personal development as apposed to trying to figure out whether or not you are better than someone else. There is also a high probability that you will begin to feel a wonderfully pleasurable sense of growth and progression as you develop through time.

It is, however, useful to learn from a model of Excellence...

I’d like to point out that it is still useful to identify a model of excellence who already possesses the skills, attitudes and traits that you would like to develop. However, rather than comparing yourself to them, view them as proof that it is possible to reach that level and recognise that they are an invaluable resource that you can learn from in order to accelerate your own learning.

Author's Bio: 

Steven Burns is known as 'The People's Coach' and is an NLP Trainer, Coach & Hypnotherapist. Following the end of his 9 and 1/2 relationship he decided to specialize in helping people overcome social anxiety and become more confident and skilled in all aspects of socializing. You can find Steven's latest work at The Guide to Social Confidence