Social Question

gemiwing's avatar

What makes someone better than you?

Asked by gemiwing (14686 points ) December 28th, 2009

I know we are all supposed to feel that no one is above us and no one is below us, yet there is often a knee-jerk reaction of feeling that someone is ‘better’ than ourselves.

When you meet someone, what specifically makes them better than you? When you measure yourself up- what does the other person have that you feel is lacking in yourself?

Is it money? A way they handle a certain situation?

I’m talking basic knee-jerk reactions before any good psychological training can come into play.

I always feel inferior to people who can work a 9–5 job. That’s impressive to me and I definitely don’t stack up to it.

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55 Answers

pjanaway's avatar

No one is better than me.

jerv's avatar

The ability to deal with people without wanting to beat them over the head with their own spleen.

Symbeline's avatar

If they tell me something that makes me ponder, then they’re probbaly better than me.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Uh…talent?

augustlan's avatar

Higher education can make me feel a little inferior, for a minute. After that, I just envy the experience. I’m a high school drop-out, something I regret.

smashbox's avatar

I know this sounds cocky, and I don’t mean for it to be, but I don’t feel inferior with anyone. As, a child/teenager I did, but not now as an adult, I feel everyone is my equal. Seriously, I don’t feel inferior to anyone, and I hope no one feels inferior toward me.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Higher education, better looks, a sparkling personality…

Violet's avatar

I guess more college education, unless they have a crappy personality. Some one who has a great personality with less education could also be “better” than me.

faye's avatar

People who spend their lives working with homeless, diseased, aids victims, with the develoment of prostheses for our soldiers and everyone else, who go to Africa to help. I am hunbled by them.

Haleth's avatar

I also have a knee-jerk reaction of thinking that people who work a 9-to-5 job are better than me… or really, any person who shows that they are more responsible than I am. My roommates at my last place were all young professionals and I sort of felt like they were judging me for working odd hours and not being done with my education. In the last year I’ve made friends with some people who work 9-to-5 jobs, and I’m getting used to the idea that they aren’t any better or worse than I am.

Jeruba's avatar

“Better”? I don’t feel that way. I certainly meet people all the time who have more of something than I have—virtue, money, education, accomplishment, years of future life, experience of the world, wisdom, beauty, talent, et cetera. I also meet people with less. Those are things that make us different, but not better or worse. I don’t feel inferior to anyone.

HumourMe's avatar

Someone who owns a backyard swimming pool. I can’t help thinking they’re just that little bit better than me.

jrpowell's avatar

Sobriety.

phillis's avatar

I got a list of them. Insecure much? Hehehe :)

I have to work hard not to compare myself to people who are responsible in the tradiotnal sense. Yeah, the 9 to 5 job is one of them. I’ve never been able to climb even the easiest corporate ladder due to short-term memory loss. Hell, I could buy a modest vehicle with the money I’ve been charged for failing to remember doctor’s visits.

Moms who have it all together. I want so badly to be the quintessential soccer mom, but I can’t. Intellectually, I know that most of them aren’t happy, but damn! I’d like to at least have had the chance to experience that kind of “unhappiness” for myself, you know? I just do NOT have that much energy.

Oh, and what about people with perfect credit? They’ve never had one thing in thier lives that caused their house of cards to come tumbling down. They developed long-term plans….and it worked! I’m MOSTLY happy for them.

I wish I had come from a family that could have afforded to send me to college. It dents the old self-esteem, having to work your way through a mediocre college, at a Waffle House. But I still have all my teeth, so I came out the other side relatively unscathed. Oh, bite me…..you know it was a joke :)

Which is how I deal with the things I can’t have, which are numerous. It’s either laugh, or grow bitter. Which would YOU choose? I find the humor in those situations! I can’t afford more education, but I can tease others about being overachievers, all in good fun :)

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

No one should allow themselves to feel inferior to someone with a higher level of education.
I pursued a PhD so I could do things I wanted to do, not to be better than anybody else.
I value the experience people acquire by virtue of their life experience, whatever that experience was.
I am here to learn from others and to help where I can.
If you regret that you did not go farther in school, then find a way to learn things you want to know more about.
If you want to take a course to broaden your horizons, do it.
I bet that I can learn something interesting or valuable from everyone here.

scotsbloke's avatar

I dont really think people are better than me, just most are more popular, louder, more confident, more handsome, kinder, more flamboyant, nicer, luckier, sexier, funnier, cleverer….......

I think people are differenter than me, not better. We all have equal worth.
And I’m sticking to that opinion, nothing can shift it….......unless you have chocolate?

iphigeneia's avatar

Multilinguism. English is my first language, and then I have a rather shaky grasp on Japanese. Anyone who can achieve and sustain fluency in two or more languages has my admiration and deepest envy. That’s one way I subconsciously size up the person to whom I’m talking.

I think the bottom line is that they’ve already done something I’m still actively trying to do. Like, if I were talking to Michael Phelps, I don’t think I’d feel as inferior because I don’t really care that he can swim fast and I can not.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

Very difficult question… who’s to say who is “better” than anyone else. That way of thinking gets us all in trouble .. we try to compete with others to measure up. I know it’s probably human nature to think that way, but it’s why we get frustrated and unhappy. Mary might seem better than me .. but I don’t know what’s really going on with her… she could be the most miserable creature on earth. Appearances can be deceiving and it’s much healthier to concentrate on being the best YOU you can be .. that’s what will make you a success.

Zen_Again's avatar

Gets my vote for one of the best and most thought-provoking questions this month. Way to go @gemiwing. I would have to guess money, most of the time, gives the perception that one is “better”.

daemonelson's avatar

Multiple languages. That always gets me.

Sophief's avatar

Most people are better than me. I don’t care. I’m happy with my life.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It depends on the sense you are looking at. There are many people who are more successful than me, but they are no better because I am happier. A person may be poor but have a great sense of ethics and benevolence. Whichever trait you value the most highly, possession nearing excess makes that person superior to you in your own mind.

Confuscious's avatar

-Better education. I find many people look down on someone who is not as highly educated as they are. So that makes me feel inferior whenever I’m around such a person.
-Beautiful people. I feel they are better than me because I don’t have the willpower to work on myself to look like that.

TheJoker's avatar

I think my gut reaction is to asume everyone else is better, in the first instance. Although this is entirely me & nothing to do with the other person.
@phillis…. you know you’re No.1 in my book dontcha :)

SirGoofy's avatar

Their ability to fly faster than a speeding bullet…and to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Jayy's avatar

your mind.

nebule's avatar

it’s Confidence, every time

wildpotato's avatar

I have this friend who, whenever I start talking about another of our friends not in that person’s presence and in an assumptive way, just pauses for a second and changes the subject. If pressed, all he will say is “I wouldn’t know anything about that.” Without even trying to, he makes me feel ashamed that I would unthinkingly talk about another behind her back. And that’s only one of the many ways he leads his friends, like me, by example, towards becoming better people – people more like him.

So I guess what makes someone better than me is his exercise of a higher level of kindness and consideration towards others than my own.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m with @pjanaway and @smashbox
I don’t feel anyone’s better than me, at all. I don’t think anyone’s worse than me either but there are people who commit certain actions that I find are beneath me.

gemiwing's avatar

Amazing answers. I always find the first gut reaction to be worth looking at more closely.

To those that say you have never felt that someone is above you (even Mother Theresa) I ask- have you come from a healthy family? Have you always felt on the same level with everyone else or was there ever a time that you slipped in the rankings?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@gemiwing Mother Theresa, certainly, is not above me – I have quite a bit of criticism for that person..but that’s not what this is about – I suppose I do come from a healthy-ish family, just a bit of abuse from a sibling, not a very involved father, controlling mother…but normal overall…I used to feel worse about myself, definitely, when I was younger, when I just came to America – but I worked hard, I developed myself, I have a wonderful family, a great education behind me, a good job and a bright future – I am damn lucky.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I haven’t met anyone that I perceive is ‘better’ than me. There are people with more education who are ‘smarter’ than me or those with more money that are ‘wealthier’ than me but I have too much self-confidence and self-esteem to bend to the notion that others are ‘better’ than I am. On that same note, I’m a very humble person by nature and I don’t envision myself ‘better’ than others, either.

Silhouette's avatar

The people I admire are the people who see the light in other people before they spot the dark side. I am the opposite. I see the dark and work backwards from there. I don’t know why, but that’s how I roll. It just seems easier to see the good first and I occasionally feel inadequate because my mind and my intuition don’t work that way.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Anyone who is neurologically normal, no matter how unintelligent.

nebule's avatar

…likewise when I suddenly feel better than people or on equal ground happens when they show their vulnerability

bunnygrl's avatar

My Grandmother used to tell me when i was young “You’re no better than anybody hen, but remember, nae bugger is better than you”. As an adult, I think thats an amazing thought to put into a childs mind and I treasure it, with all of the other little golden nuggets of advice she gave me all my life. I miss her terribly.
hugs everyone xx

Roby's avatar

If they are breathing they are better than me me…I am not a low life or criminal but I am very unattractive and not real smart.

LTaylor's avatar

Nothing, we are all created equally.

bunnygrl's avatar

@Roby don’t think like that honey, I’ll bet you’re lovely. When i was very young I had an auntie who used to, everytime she saw me, tell me I was fat, I’d never get married because men are choosy etc. I wasn’t fat, far from it looking back. I was always around a 10/12 (uk size) because I had developed early, also I was such a sickly child growing up I’d never had a chance to gain weight. Mind you this auntie was built like a stick insect in a pair of heels so maybe to her anyone who didn’t look like a skeleton with skin stretched over it was fat lol. My point is that sometimes we see ourselves through other rude, spiteful peoples eyes, and it took me a long, long time to learn to use my own eyes instead. Learn to be pals with yourself honey, once you like yourself, its amazing how many other folk seem to as well :-) or at least thats what I found. Sending you mountains of hugs <hugs> xx

Sophief's avatar

@bunnygrl Think we have the same auntie.

bunnygrl's avatar

@Dibley oh no!! ok I learned this from too many horrible years listening to mine, best medicine in the world sweetheart, ignore the bitch. <hugs> Seriously, I learned it was her problem not mine, quite literaly. She has to this day (and she’s in her early 60’s now) body image issues. I mean she’d have to eat a pie shop to get to be a size 8, and she doesn’t look good for it. She’s looks ill.

I remember my Gran saying once when she’d caught her (she’d always been very careful to say these things when we were alone, odd how you’re so busy being hurt that you don’t stop to think of these things) anyway, my Gran heard her once and gave her a right telling off and then said to me, “no tae mind her hen, she’s no been given tits she’s jealous” LOL LOL My Gran was amazing, what my Dad used to call “a helluva woman for one woman” and she really was. My point is that your aunt might well be jealous of you, or she might just be like mine and a spiteful wee minx lol. Either way, best form of defence against these creatures is to flick them off like the little bug they are lol. This doesn’t have to mean cutting off contact with them, believe it or not I actually now in my mid 40’s get on better with this auntie, or at least she doesn’t hurt me anymore because I have a secret weapon. When she makes her little comments about me carrying my own chair around with me etc I just throw a quip back at her (“yeah, maybe but I’ve got tits so it all evens out nicely thanks”) Is that you on your profile pic? if so you’re stunning and now I’m jealous. It’s always amazed me that really beautiful people usually seem completely unaware of it. I have a dear friend who quite literally turns heads, I’ve seen it so often and if you were to ask her, she’d rattle on till you want to smack her about her ears being too small or her feet being too big, lol She’s also one of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever met. Maybe its being beautiful on the inside as well as the outside that makes folk unaware of it? and it sounds like you’re one of those folk, flick her off like a bug, develop a shield that you can mentally put up while she’s around, after all, she’s stuck with that peronality sweetheart, as I said, she’s likely jealous and you’re beautiful so you have the last laugh, hugs honey xx

TheJoker's avatar

@bunnygrl…. Your gran is ACE!!!

bunnygrl's avatar

@TheJoker Aw thank you <throws mountains of hugs> she was an amazing woman. I always thought she should have been prescribed on the NHS :-) I was lucky to have her in my life, I wish everyone could have known her. She had a huge heart, an endless supply of hugs and a smile that could have lit up a football stadium. hugs honey and thank you xx

TheJoker's avatar

@bunnygrl…. always a pleasure. & looks like you’re following in her footsteps quite nicely if you ask me :) x

bunnygrl's avatar

@TheJoker what a lovely sweet thing to say, you just made me cry, but in a good way thank you so much for being so kind, love and hugs ((((((((((TheJoker)))))))))) xx

Sophief's avatar

@bunnygrl Yes that’s me in the picture, it’s not the best one, I had the sun in my eyes! Thank you for your kind words but I am far from beautiful. As a teenager I was quite a big girl, once I was 13 stone and I’m only 5’2 so I look big. My Auntie in particular used to tell me I was fat, and that I would never get a boyfriend. I was large all the way through my teens. I’m now around 8 stone which is a size 8 to 10 in UK sizes. My friends that are that weight look thin, but they are taller. I feel fat and look it. Face on I’m large, I’m not wide If you get me, I don’t have big hips, but from the side I am quite big. I think the older I am getting I am more self conscious and I am sure that has got to do with what people said to me when I was younger. I don’t see my auntie now, for no reason, just don’t see her. My grandma used to tell me I was beautiful and I know she loved me no matter what. She has since died and I miss her so much, she was such a strong and important person in my life.

bunnygrl's avatar

@Dibley see? you just proved my point. Like my pal Mimmy, she really is beautiful, but much as I’ve told her over the years, she laughs it off and says I have to say that because I’m her best pal and its in the small print lol, but she really is, and as i said earlier, its been my experience that truly beautiful people, that is people like our mimmy and you (stop protesting, I’m not even listening lol) people who are beautiful and have lovely personalities too, well they really don’t think they are. The rest of us can see it though. If you’re a size 8 to a 10 you are not fat, you’re so far away from fat that you couldn’t see it with high powered binoculars! I’ll bet you don’t believe me either. When Mim and I were at college years ago there was this girl in our class, and yes she was really pretty, but good god that girl sucked the atmosphere out of a room the minute she walked into it. She went everywhere with a mirror welded to her hand and was forever touching up bits of make up all through classes and flicking her extremely long hair backwards continually (usually hitting whoever was unfortunate enough to be sitting nearest in class). All of this could have been laughed off I expect but for the fact that she was a total bitch. I mean seriously, in the two years we were all in the same class (we all did an HND) she did her best to cut every female in our class to shreds. My point is that there are pretty women in this world and there are beautiful ones, the pretty ones have a face and nothing else, the beautiful ones can’t help being beautiful because it comes from the inside. If that isn’t even a good pic of you, well, as I said you proved my point (and I’m still not listening to protests either lol).It’s just my opinion, and I’ll bet everyone reading this too if they’ve seen your pic). I’m so glad you had a wonderful Grandmother, I did too, and we’ve been really lucky you and I, to have had them in our lives. I think you’re a lovely person and honestly I mean it, like our Mimmy you’re beautiful. love and hugs xx

Sophief's avatar

@bunnygrl Do you not think you are beautiful? Are you married?

bunnygrl's avatar

@Dibley yep, hubby and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month :-) no, I don’t think I’m beautiful honey, I’m too flawed. I had a breakdown, or what my doctor sweetly refers to as “my little episode”, which robbed me of over 5 years of my life. For the first 2 years or so of that time I was physically unable to leave the house. I had to work really hard (and go through literally what felt like hell) to be able to put on my coat and open the front door and go out. A silly wee thing that most folk take for granted. I appreciate it more than I can say, because I had to fight so hard to be able to do it. Even now, there are days when i feel physically sick at the thought, but i <touch wood> seem to manage, mostly. I work, only part time but it’s my only, other than here being online, it’s my connection to the outside world. It’s just a silly little job for a few hours a week but I love it. My old bones are pretty twisted now from rhuematoid arthritis, I walk with a stick, and I hate that I’m only 5 foot 4 and I’m a size 20 when i was all of my adult life, till the artritis took away my mobility and they started pumping me full of the mass of pills I take each day, well, i know im not suppposed to say it but i had a nice figure. I think i told you that I’d developed early, around the age of 11, well, you know how dumbo sneezed and his ears shot out, pretty much felt like that lol. Haven’t seen my feet properly since then lol. As you can see I use humour to keep me going. I’m not a strong person, I wish I was but I’m not. There really wasn’t very much of me left after my breakdown, but it was a learning experience, possibly the greatest of my life. I had to learn who I was. I know so much more about myself now than I did and I wouldn’t trade that ever. I am at peace with who I am now, of course there are things I wish I could change. I’d like to look the way I used to, goodness thats awful. that sounds so vain, what I mean is that I wish I was still a size 12/14, I wish my hands weren’t all gnarled, and my hair wasn’t rapidy greying (actually I started getting grey hair when i was about 13 or 14 but its getting really noticeable now eek). phew, sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble on, but no honey, I’m not beautiful because I’m too flawed, but there are bits I do like. I love that I have grey blue eyes that my Dad said were his mums, I love my skin which is olive toned so I never burn. I love that I didn’t let my breakdown beat me, that I didn’t let it shut me off from the world entirely. I suppose thats it really. I’m just me.
hugs xx

Michael_Huntington's avatar

How can they possibly be better than me?
I am Bruce friggin Campbell

augustlan's avatar

@bunnygrl You seem to be a beautiful soul. :)

bunnygrl's avatar

@augustlan what a sweet lovely thing to say, thank you,for being kind, love and hugs xx

Sophief's avatar

@bunnygrl You sound beautiful to me and to go what you have been through then that is a strong person. I can’t cope with every day life nevermind anything else. I admire that you were strong enough to beat it and fight on in life. I give up and break down at the slightest little thing and I hate myself for that.

bunnygrl's avatar

@Dibley I have a favourite quote I read somewhere, probubly online, and copied it down so I wouldn’t forget it. It just made me smile on a not so good day.

“Any idiot can face a crisis… it’s the day to day living that can wear you out.”
Anton Checkov. Another favourite is:

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the
day saying “I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher

I’m really not strong at all honey, I cry far too much, i still feel sick when I’m outside sometimes, and the world scares me far more than it used to. I haven’t beaten the depression i know that because sometimes I can feel it creep back and it scares me, but i get up everyday, and then i concentrate really really hard on getting through it. Deal with whatever comes at me that day and try to get to bedtime, and then i get up again next day and do it all over again. I hope someday I won’t have to think about reaching the end of the day, and I think that’ll happen. Tilll then I’ll keep smiling like a slightly demented person with a hug complex lol. I do hug a lot I know, but i can’t help it, hugs make the world better i think, an unexpected hug can make the world a wee bit brighter on a bad day :-)

I think fluther is an amzing place because in the short time I’ve been here I’ve met all sorts of wonderful people, including you dear Dibley. We all have such a huge collection of different life experiences but everyone is willing to share things that maybe it would be difficult to share in the “real” world and that makes this such a unique place. People care here. There is always a kind ear to any problems, a hug available and some good common sense solutions offered. I love it here. I know it sounds really daft but having a good cry can make me feel better sometimes, and I tend to use it as a coping mechanism. A really nice nurse told me once, and I’ve never forgotten it, or her, that I should fight the battles I can win, I quote that back to myself on bad days and it helps. There is a song that I love, and feel free to laugh here, I’ve been a Barry Manilow fan for over 30 years I’m used to being mocked lol, but its a Barry song called “I made it through the rain” and it always makes me feel better. I never understood it really when i was young and silly but life has made it all too real. It starts “we dreamers have our ways, of facing rainy days, but somehow we survive.”

I do think you’re a strong person dear Dibley, and I also think you are a very kind person who has the sweetest personality. Be kind to yourself and learn to appreciate the good things about yourself that we can all see. You’re a lovely person and fluther is that bit better because you’ve joined and are a part of it. Mountains of love and hugs dear friend, xx

TheJoker's avatar

@Mike_Hunt….. Bruce Campbell is THE dude…... groovy!

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