Identify or Compare?

What Is the Difference Between Identifying and Comparing?

When you’re identifying a problem, you’re recognizing an issue that is there. For instance, you can identify that you have a problem and simply recognize that “fact.”

Essentially, identifying is understanding what you’re going through and being able to communicate that to others. However, comparing is a way of looking for differences between you and others, and that is a negative behavior that will only harm you as you attempt to grow emotionally and socially. The reason being that you will basically, depending on temperament propensities, find yourself better, or worse than the other person.

Why Is It Important to Identify and Not Compare?

When you identify, you recognize your own personal worth as an individual. You don’t need to be like someone else or share a story with someone to validate your existence. Instead, you’re entirely your own person with your own experiences and story to tell.

If you compare yourself with others, you could do a few things that are detrimental to you.

You may:

  1. Minimize your problem
  2. Feel less or more than those around you through comparison
  3. Exempt yourself from the equation if you feel you are not as bad as someone else.

Why Does Comparing Minimize Your Problems?

Comparing yourself to others allows you to look for differences. For some people, those differences will make them feel bad about themselves, for others, they’ll look for ways in which they have succeeded or been less dependent to make themselves feel better than those around them. For instance, if you’re listening to someone talk about his problems and think, “Well, I never acted like that,” then you are comparing yourself to that person instead of listening and learning from his experiences. Understanding that you are different but share a common problem helps you identify with the people around you and share a common basis for seeking and receiving help, thus forming community.

Why Does Comparison Make You Feel Less Than Others?

 Comparing is a good way to feel less than them. For instance, if you fell into drug use at an early age, you may find that comparing yourself to someone who was able to quit at an early age, or never had that problem, makes you feel bad about your own choices.

Comparing your current mental and physical state to others in a group can also make you feel inadequate or behind, and that’s not something that is good for you or those around you. Feeling like you’re less than others makes it harder for you to interact and share your true feelings and be vulnerable and authentic ,and it may make you feel that you have to lie or be quiet during sessions to not stand out in the crowd.

How Can Identifying Help Me?

Instead of thinking of your issues as a peculiar challenge to you and you alone, or trying to fit into a pecking order, identifying helps you focus on your own personal challenges, and, how you can use your experiences to help others. You want to be with others whom you can identify with because you can see how another person’s story relates to your own and gain new insights into your own struggles and growth.

There are people in your group meetings that you may never have mixed with in your normal life. Different races, religions, genders, and people of different views of many kinds, as well as different temperaments. Because of this, you can learn so much about people and the different views on similar issues that you may share. One of those people may say something that motivates you, or you may find that you have something in common with someone that you would have never thought possible.

Coming together and forming friendships and relationships is important to your emotional and spiritual formation, and identifying with the people around you allows you to do that without becoming competitive. It takes you one step closer to an emotionally healthy “EQ”, and healthy social connectedness and well being.

BH/ First Steps

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