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No Comparison Needed

by Alani Goins (15 years old Sophomore)

Envy is a hard battle to win, as most battles within yourself are. Comparison is a fundamental human impulse, there's really no way of shutting it down completely. The psychology behind this comes from Juliana Breines Ph.D. of the website “Psychology Today” Her research titled “The Perils of Comparing Ourselves to Others” communicates why it is our “basic desire to understand ourselves and our place in the social world.” Breines talks about the difference between a downward comparison and an upward comparison in her research whilst also discussing their characteristics. In the song “The Beauty Inside” by Phora, he uses Breines philosophy of the perils of comparison actively as a way of persuasion to who he directed the song to. As well as Rebecca Webber’s research to discuss what aspects spark the need for comparison in people.

Comparison is a way of learning, a way of persuasion, it could go to any extent. To further explain, if you were to see somebody jog down the street you would make the assumption that they are fit or are trying to get fit. When comparing yourself to that person downwardly, according to Breines, you would think something such as “they think that they are all that because they are trying to get in shape.” Where the opposite way of thinking being “upward comparison,” you would think something such as “I am so out of shape.” This mental attitude is engraved in many people’s minds, as it is one of the easiest ways to persuade someone into doing something. In present times, you would find influencers enhancing their body parts. These are body parts that do not need to necessarily need to be enhanced. It has become a norm to make your breasts and glutes bigger by the means of surgery. This has had a lasting effect on the upcoming generations looking on what “beauty” is. It has made many ask “what is beauty?” and to that same extent, “what makes someone ugly?” The world has defined beauty as a surgically enhanced breast as well as bottom, small waist, small nose, etc. None of these things being realistic through natural beauty. This similar approach was taken in the song “The Beauty Inside” by Phora. The musical artist says “Don't need to lie you see I'm tryna get a grip On you mind these other guys just tryna quick grip on your thigh Sick of the lies i know your last man He just didn't show you the real you I see your soul your energy I can connect they feel you i mean feel In the spiritual sense way pass the physical Your body don't need to be perfect For me to be into you I'm into you I wanna show you my feeling that fit to you Deep conversations you need someone to listen to Someone who opens up at the same time pays attention To every word you say and understand how the things have been for you Some people really got the word beautiful twisted See it’s not your clothes body or lipstick that’s materialistic Beauty runs deeper than skin Pass what the guys can see.” Several times in the previous line, the musical artist compared himself to the targeted person’s possible lover. This relates to Breines philosophy of the perils of comparison because of the pity it evokes within the artist. In specific, the artist only gave hypothetical scenarios to benefit himself. Ultimately, he made up a scenario in his mind and told the audience how he was better than said scenario. To compare to my own example, the artist used the same approach. With this, he took the attention off of himself to put onto someone else.

Rebecca Webber says, “Measuring the self against others is a modus operandi of the human mind, and in some ways, it can be helpful. The inspiration you feel about someone else's achievements can rev up the motivation to improve your own life. The recognition that your abilities are a notch above someone else's can deliver a boost to your self-esteem. But comparisons can be harmful when they leave you feeling chronically inferior or depressed.” Personally, I know that I have compared myself to others plenty of times. Especially where people that I feel that are “better” than me are concerned. For example, I recently seen a 12 year old that is going to Arizona State University in the fall. My mind didn’t immediately go to: “Oh, good for her! She must be really hard-working and smart.” Instead, my mind went to “What am I doing wrong? What did she do that I am not doing?” An unnamed professor of organizational behavior said, “inevitably, we relate information about others to ourselves, it's one of the most basic ways we develop an understanding of who we are, what we're good at, and what we're not so good at. It happens not only in a strategic manner, but also spontaneously and automatically whenever we are confronted with others. Even when you're faced with a standard that's extreme, first you compare, then you correct for the outcomes." Both quotes back up my personal experience with comparing myself to others because of the different motives they have. One motive is telling readers comparing themselves helps them develop who they are, while the other says it develops your self-esteem. In which both can be considered in my case.

In the song “The Beauty Inside” by Phora, he uses Breines philosophy of the perils of comparison actively as a way of persuasion to who he directed the song to. As well as Rebecca Webber’s research to discuss what aspects spark the need for comparison in people. The song is a prime example of what Dr. Julianna Breines would call “downward comparison” in the effect of fueling your own appearance in the eyes of another person to defame someone else’s character. With the opposite being what Dr. Breines would call an “upward comparison” in comparing yourself to said person in efforts to make yourself feel better because they are “worse.” In comparison to Dr. Breines philosophy, Rebecca Webber, of website “Psychology Today” philosophy is that we compare ourselves to others because it often fuels us to improve our own life. This is in accordance with Dr. Breines philosophy because both help us develop an understanding within ourselves.

References: Dr. Breines Philosophy