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Problems: To compare or not to compare

Got problems?

I have no idea what you’re going through.

I couldn’t possibly know.

After all, it’s your life, and your personality and circumstances are unique to you.

So, it’s doubtful that I can relate.

Besides, I have my own problems.

I don’t have to deal with the issues you face, but I do have to address the daily task of managing challenges and coping with stress in ways that are unique to me.

But that’s neither here nor there, because, ultimately, you and I aren’t in competition which each other.

The Universe isn’t awarding points to the person who makes the best case for why their life is more difficult than anyone else’s.

No bonuses are being given to the individual with the most unique and unrelateable set of problems.

We’ve all been dealt a hand that has some less than exciting cards in the mix, and we each must face the task of making the best use out of the resources we’ve been given.

Everyone has the following decision to make: we can feel self-righteous about our own particular problems, sticking our noses in the air at those who seem to have it easier than us, or we can embrace our contrasting experiences as creative challenges, sticking our chests out in pride because we dared to meet the demands of our unique evolutionary path.

You can feel superior to others because of what you’re going through or you can feel superior to what you’re going through because of they way you choose to handle it.

I’m choosing the second option.

What about you?

T.K. Coleman

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Perhaps any concept of superiority must be egoic. there is no superiority – this is the error. What we do to each other we do to ourselves. There is only ONE – we are only meeting a reflection of ourselves, over and over again – and all is either a call for Love or an expression of Love, so just Forgive it and Love it.

    1. I think I get what you’re saying, Jeremy, and I agree. You point out a valuable insight.

      In this particular case, I’m referring to the ontological superiority that an individual has over his circumstances, as opposed to egoic notions of superiority over other people. To be more precise…In a relative/metaphorical sense, the notion of being superior to one’s circumstances is a conventional/colloquial way of expressing the fact that our True Essence is boundless and, as a result, is bigger and broader than any elements in the realm of forms that we tend to identify ourselves with.

      So, in this ontological sense we are superior to our circumstances because the True Self/Trans-personal Essence is greater than any particular experience we may be going through at a given moment.

      In a literal or absolute sense, however, any concept of superiority as it relates to ideas of “the other”, stems from identification with the ego since “otherness” is an illusion and all things are merely varied expressions of Undifferentiated Being. In the absolute sense, nothing can be superior to something else precisely because there is nothing else. There is simply This Present Awareness aka The Unconditioned Awareness of Being and I AM That and You are That and We are One.

      So, although I tend to write most of my “self-help” posts from the perspective of the individual and in the language of the relative, I agree with your expression of the non-dual perspective. And since it’s always a pleasure for me to contemplate and discuss the mystery of Beingness, I appreciate you taking the time to articulate it.



  2. I have been through a lot in my in my life and I know it, but I had a boyfriend who was always comparing how much pain and suffering I’d been through with how much he’d been through and felt his pain didn’t count. I would say to him, of course it counts. Your pain is your pain. Yes, I know some people’s circumstances take them through more horrifying experiences than the experiences of others, but still pain is pain and everyone has theirs and their experiences of it. To me comparing who has more or less and what that means is a waste of time. The fact is we are all human and in our humaneness we sometimes experience pain and suffering. I agree with what you’ve written here, that it is not how much pain we may go through but how we choose to handle our pain-for instance, do we treat ourselves with love and compassion as we move through our pain or do we beat ourselves up for it and make ourselves feel all the worse? It IS as you say, T.K., that how we choose to handle our pain, that is what is important…that is what matters most.
    Thank you for the reminder, for once again making me take a good look at myself and my ways of relating to myself, others and this grand Universe we live in.

    1. I like your take on this, Audrey. While I focused on the feelings of self-righteousness, envy, and superiority that often results from comparing our problems to others, you’ve shedded great light on the feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and self-rejection that can stem from this process as well. Sometimes we don’t fully allow ourselves to be loved and blessed because a perception that we haven’t suffered enough to be deserving of it. And that is definitely another destructive result of making those kinds of comparisons.

      I agree with you that it is much healthier to take our attention away from comparatively determining the meaning and value of other people’s pain and choosing, instead, to live in compassion for ourselves and others, embracing the intrinsic worth of all life.

      Thanks for your insights and comments 🙂



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