Do you ever compare yourself to others? It’s so easy to do that sometimes we’re not even aware that we’re doing it. You see someone’s Instagram and think how you wish your life was as amazing as theirs is or someone achieves one of your careers goals and you mentally beat yourself up for not doing better. Comparing ourselves to other people is a bad habit to get into and a hard habit to stop.
Inspirational Speaker, Cassandra Freeman says, “It is unhealthy to compare yourself to others because it gives you a false sense of insignificance. This causes you to begin thinking self- sabotaging thoughts that reduce your motivation and drive.”
The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we chip away at our self-esteem and the unhappier we get with our own lives. What can you do instead of comparing yourself to other people?
Comparison is the thief of joy, so do these 9 things instead.
Compare yourself to who you were before.
If you look back at where you came from and where you are, you will be surprised at how far you’ve come. Sometimes we just need to look at our lives from a different perspective—instead of focusing on what you don’t have and what you haven’t accomplished, look at what you’ve achieved. Most of us don’t have a running tally of all the impressive things we’ve done, so it’s good to do a personal accounting every now and then.
Use comparison as a way to get to know yourself better.
There’s a reason why you want to compare yourself to that person, even when you know that it can create a negative feeling. Try to see what it is about that person that you admire or what is it that they have that you want. “From there, you’re able to look at the times in your own life you exhibited those qualities,” says Renee Canzoneri. “And start to shift focus away from what you don’t have by comparison and more toward what you exhibit in your own life that you admire.”
Make peace with your past.
Once you’re able to move on from your past mistakes and disappoints, it will open up space for new and better things to happen in your life. Too often we dwell on what happened before, which closes us off to the potential amazing things right in front of us. Sometimes we compare ourselves to people who disappointed or hurt us as a way to feel better about ourselves. This reverse comparison rarely works in a positive way. It’s best to leave the past where it is and move on. They were in your life and out of it for very good reasons, so trust that it all happened for the best.
Familiarize yourself with your own talents and abilities.
There are things that are specifically you and only you can do. “Discover your talents and focus on your strengths,” says Anne Brackett, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. “Once you know what they are, start being intentional about how you use them and how you can improve how you use them. Look for ways of thinking or behaving that complement your strengths instead of trying what’s worked for other people. When you invest in your talents, they become strengths.”
When we compare ourselves to others, we often find ourselves not measuring up. If you embrace your mistakes and failures, you’ll learn from them and do better. Self-acceptance is one of the first steps in loving yourself and it helps prevent you from comparing yourself to others and having it affect you in negative ways.
Turn comparison into motivation.
If you want something that someone else has, instead of being jealous, channel that energy into helping you get them. Sireesha, a career blogger says, “The best [way] to tackle that rising comparison feeling inside you is to turn it into a healthy motivation to achieve more in life. Turning your negative feelings into something more progressive can give you reason to work harder towards your goals.”
Use it as a learning moment.
Instead of making yourself feel anxious about all the ways that you don’t measure up, reach out to that person and see if they can share how they got to where they are and if they have any suggestions for you. “Unfortunately, we live in a world of individualistic competition where we are taught that we should figure out the answer [s] ourselves,” says Dr, Elizabeth Cohen. “However, we have the gift of a community of people who have wisdom to share. Next time you feel envy or insecurity in reaction to someone’s post try to reach out to them privately and ask how they got there. You will be surprised by the answer because it won’t add up to the one you assumed.”
When you’re comparing yourself to others you don’t see what it is that you have, and you miss out on the opportunity to be grateful. Laura Luckie Finch, a counselor at LLF Counseling says “You miss the joy in front of you when you are too busy comparing yourself to others. Everything is relative.” Comparison will bring you down, instead of lifting you up. Be grateful for what you have, what you don’t have, and for what you want to have. Gratitude is a powerful force and can help you to get what you want in life.
Take a break from social media.
Often what we see on social media is highly curated—we see what people want us to see. As Dr. Cohen says, “We compare our insides to other people’s outsides.” We don’t know the whole story and it’s human nature to fill in the blanks and make assumptions. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from everyone else’s perfect stories and put the focus back on our own lives.
Author Bracha Goetz says, “It’s [comparison] like being jealous of someone else’s glasses. If you got their glasses, their specific prescription would not necessarily help you see better.”
Comparing yourself to others is a hard habit to break, but the less you do it, the less of a compulsion you’ll have to do it, and the happier and more content you’ll feel.