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Research has shown that people who make a habit of such comparisons are generally less happy than are those who base their success on their own internal standards.
When you compare yourself to people who have more than you, your inner brat gets into gear. Just like little Johnny and chocolate cake described above, your inner brat dwells on what's missing, which makes you feel victimized. You'll never be satisfied, no matter how much you have, as long as someone else has more.
This is same mentality that fuels huge salary demands by top athletes, actors and CEOs: "I'm making $20 million, but that's not enough because other guy's getting $30 million."
If comparing yourself to people who have more than you makes you feel worse, should you instead concentrate on comparing yourself to those who have less or accomplished less? Actually, no. While it might be comforting for moment, it could backfire in long run.
You could end up feeling even less secure, worrying that youíll lose what you have. Or you might feel guilty for having more than others, such that you subconsciously sabotage your future success.
Itís best not to compare yourself to anyone. Other peopleís achievements donít diminish your own, and their misfortunes do not improve your lot.
This doesnít mean that you shouldn't compete, nor that you shouldn't strive to improve. However, do it for right reasons -- not because your inner brat is whining, but rather to develop and grow. That way, youíll enjoy your accomplishments so much more.
Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" (Wildcat Canyon Press, 2004) She is also a life coach.
Visit http://www.innerbrat.com for more information, and subscribe to her free, monthly Inner Brat Newsletter.