We are taught from a young age not to compare ourselves to others. Yet, it’s much easier said than done. There are endless ways in which we tend to compare ourselves including our jobs, income, house, grades, likes on Instagram, and the list goes on. Not only are there an infinite number of areas in which we can compare ourselves to others, nowadays because of social media, it would appear that there is also an infinite list of people we can also compare ourselves to.
First-hand experience has taught us that comparison leads to unhappiness. It allows us to focus on what we don’t have or what we aren’t happy with about ourselves. It’s true that there can be some benefits to comparison. For instance, it could drive you to succeed in fulfilling your own goals. It may even reassure you that if it’s possible for them, it’s possible for you too. Nevertheless, it often leaves us feeling frustrated, “why not me?” It can also make us feel anxious – “am I doing enough?” The energy we spend on these thoughts is predominantly negative. It eats away at our precious time, zaps at our motivation and fills us with self-doubt.
This reaction is not unusual. According to a study concerning envy in adulthood, more than 75% of people reported feeling this way in the past year. Below are five proactive approaches to stop comparing yourself to others, and regain control to focus on your own path.
Establish the triggers
The first step is to acknowledge when these feelings of envy generally come about. Is it after a session of scrolling through your LinkedIn feed? Perhaps it’s after glancing at your friends’ Instagram stories. These observations teach us a lot about our values. Let off some steam or seek to understand these comparisons by getting it down on paper. Write about how they impact you, is there a goal that you could perhaps establish in order to achieve that in your own life, or is the comparison simply a waste of time. Become aware of the triggers and analyse them accordingly.
Thankfully, practicing gratitude can override these negative emotions. If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, take a look around you – think about who and what you’re grateful for. It may help to write these down or even make this a collective activity. With your family, friends, or partner, create a gratitude jar. Find a mason jar, decorate it to your liking, and fill it with at least one thing each day that you are grateful for. With the current situation, you could consider creating a virtual gratitude jar through a Whatsapp group. When you find yourself slipping into comparison mode or self-doubt, reach for the gratitude jar to uplift you.
Identify your Achievements
When focusing on others, we tend to focus on their strengths and, consequently, we ignore our own. This is a lose-lose situation that can be proactively turned into a win-win situation. Go ahead and identify your own achievements to reflect on your skills and talents. Begin to list all of your recent (or not so) achievements, no matter how big or small. From helping a friend to doing a workout with zero motivation, take pride in your achievements.
Embrace the Inspiration
Behind everyone’s success is a story. We tend to focus on the outcome as opposed to the hours they spent working hard and making sacrifices for their achievements. Instead of focusing on envy, embrace it as a form of motivation. Who are the people you aspire to be like? If you know them, reach out to them. If it’s someone in the public eye, do your research and find out about their story. Let them be the inspiration for what you can be, do and achieve.
Friend or Foe?
There are two options when it comes to self-talk – friend or foe. You know that voice inside your head that tells you every insult under the sun? This one’s the foe. If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself. When you succumb to comparison mode, be your own best friend. Be kind to yourself by acknowledging and reminding yourself of your unique values. Give yourself pep talks that build up your confidence, and instill you with positivity.
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blooms.” – Zen Shin
There will always be someone more successful, more intelligent, or more beautiful than you are. The key is to appreciate your uniqueness, focus on strengths. Take control of where you put your energy. Use it to believe in yourself and create the life you desire and deserve.
You’ve got this!