Q:I constantly compare myself to others. When friends do well at something I automatically feel inferior rather than glad for them. I feel guilty because I want to be a good friend but I get hurt by others successes and cannot control it, though I don’t show it. How can I change?

A: The big problem here comes from thinking that you aren’t good enough no matter what you do.

You may have been raised by a parent who was always comparing you to others. It doesn’t matter much if they were saying that you were better than everyone else or if they were saying that you weren’t as good as others. What matters is that they taught you that your value came from how you compared to others, rather than from your innate worth as a human being – as someone they loved regardless of all your strengths and weaknesses.

You’re going to have to change this, or expect to feel bad much of your life! I say this because, of course, you will always be able to find examples of other people doing better than you in one way or another.

Even the most talented and successful people on the planet are only talented and successful in a relatively tiny part of life. (Nuclear physicists might be lousy at relationships, for example.) So no matter how well you do, you will always feel “less than” others unless you overcome this habit of comparing.

Ask yourself how much this bothers you. And if it’s not a really minor degree of psychological pain, see a therapist about it.

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