Rule number 4 in Dr. Petersons book is perhaps one of the most widely expressed of all of his rules but maybe one of the most difficult to implement in ones life. Rule 4 is “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today”, and now you understand what I mean. I think one of the things I really enjoyed about this chapter is that Dr. Peterson goes almost step-by-step through the subconscious process that one goes through in comparing themselves to someone else.
It is not unique that throughout my childhood, and even now sometimes, I was able to identify qualities and characteristics in other people that I wanted for myself. Physically, mentally, emotionally – on all sides of the human spectrum there are ways in which I thought I could improve myself. And I think when it comes down to it that’s what this chapter is really about.
I have always been a bigger guy. Born at almost 10 pounds and with several family members that are on the larger side of life, that is something that you could probably say is just in the genes, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I aways hated to be active when I was young unless I was playing football which I didn’t start doing until 9th grade. I defintely always enjoyed being inside with my video games more. On top of that I was a picky eater which lead to me eating a lot of processed food, like many children raised at the same time I was. The combination of these two things helped set me into a cycle in my life of doing the same things when I was older and am now working to actively break those trends.
It’s much easier to fall into a trend of looking to other people and identifying qualities and traits that you want or feel like you would die for, but it is not only unrealistic it is unproductive. We all know that everyone is different, down to even the most minute features. Something I just learned from our OB/GYN that even in identical twins one of the childrens heads will be rounder, and one will be longer. So to compare yourself to whom someone else is or even traits they have is unrealistic. That is not to say that it can’t be productive to use traits as inspiration or as a goal for something you would like for yourself but a direct comparison is unreal, because even if you get those abs that Jimmy down the road has, they won’t look the same on you as they do him.
Instead Dr. Peterson proposes the theory to compare yourself to who you were yesterday instead. Identify a quality or trait that you would like to have in your life, and work towards in. Once you have done that it’s time to shift the focus. Don’t continue to focus on the person that bears that quality but on your progress to said trait. After setting a goal the only thing that really matters is how far you have gone on the path to it, the progress you have made.
I can personally attest that focusing on people who have what you pine for instead of what you have leads to nothing but depression. I have lost 30 pounds since I actively changed the way I ate and work out consistenly and also felt a marked difference in the overall health of my gut which is a major concern for me. STILL I have plenty I could lose compared to Ryan Reynolds but that’s not what I want, and after having lost weight and getting a better look at the actual structure of my body I would be more of an Ice Man Chuck Lidell in my perfect physical shape than any of the Reynolds type, but that’s another story. I don’t feel great when I compare myself to either of those men but when I look at my ID photo, I couldn’t be much happier with what I’ve done.
It took me THIS much time to even realize that. It took me reading this book and even sitting down to write this to realize that it is partially my focus and recognition of my progress that pushes me to continue, and to think when I gain a few pounds that maybe it’s not me giving up but me gaining back some muscle to replace the fat I just lost. That maybe the kettle workouts I’ve been doing are doing what they are meant for. It is only this shift in focus that allowed me to start being proud of what I have done and made me want to strive for more. Like all the other so far I think this was a fantastic rule, and I have already used its implementation to improve my life.