“Comparison is the death of joy."
~ Mark Twain
When we think in terms of comparing ourselves (or not, as the case may be) to others, I think perspective is key.
We have to remember that we look at any given situation through our current lens.
For example, if we feel like people are “always” (oh, by the way, it’s best to stay away from definitive terms such as “never” and “always”, because rarely is something “never” the case or “always” the case!) more successful than us, it’s helpful to think of times when we didn’t feel that way.
Remember back to the time when you won the spelling bee, or made varsity when a peer was cut. Or maybe you did poorly on a test but several others in the class failed it completely. There will almost always be at least one time when you can disprove your current belief.
Additionally, it’s important to further define for ourselves the noun we are discussing.
In this example, we are using the term “successful”. Well success comes in many shapes and forms. Are we discussing financial success? What about academic achievement or weight loss?
When we start honing in on what we are actually trying to define, it often becomes easier to see all of the other ways in which that individual is not as successful as we are. The point isn’t to bring down others, but to show ourselves that we are using a very limited definition to define how we feel about ourselves, which enables us to maintain a more level-headed view altogether.
So now that you’ve disproven your initial negative cognition by looking through different lenses, and redefined it further, the last step is to remember that each of us is inherently different.
One person might be more “attractive” (again, define attractive) but has no money. Another might be rich but have no one to share her financial successes with. One question to always ask yourself is…how boring would this world be if we were legitimately all the same? I for one know I would be very unhappy and, quite frankly, unmotivated to change or improve myself.
So my last bit of advice would be to think about what motivates you and keep on keeping on. You are, and always (!) will be, enough.
Kelsey Shane, MA, LPC – www.lookinsidecounseling.com
There is only one you. There has never been nor will there ever be another you. Think about it for a moment….
There is only ONE you… What a freakin’ remarkable concept!
Each and every one of us is specifically designed to hold a special place on this planet while we are here. Each one of us comes adorned with unique talents and spiritual gifts to offer the world. Each one of us has the capacity to share our inner light with humanity and to heal not only ourselves, but others around us. And all of this manifests, when we embrace who we genuinely are without approval and without apology.
In essence, it is giving our true nature safe passage to be seen by the world and to experience the freedom and abundance that will indeed organically follow.
With that being said, I understand that sometimes we can lose our grasp on this reality. We may look around us and compare what others have or are we begin to think we are not worthy or something is terribly wrong with us. We lose sight of our own individuality and for a moment, believe we are “less than” and must change ourselves in order to blend with the world.
Who ever said we needed to blend with the world to live a fulfilled life? Where is this written? Why do we think this is where success is born?
In thinking we need to change and/or blend, we are actually going against the grain of nature’s beauty and creative genius! We are doing the opposite of what will bring true success in life. Successful people (health, wealth, relationships) have not duplicated anything or anyone. They have learned to tap into their divine essence and share that essence outwardly. They understood that what they had/have to offer is different than what anyone else had/has to offer. Fulfillment of our life is not born through duplication. It is born through authentication!
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” –Bruce Lee
A large ingredient in the recipe for empowerment is embracing one’s own authenticity for every nuance, quirk and brilliant expression of individuality that we are.
The world needs you as you are! Accept who you are. Allow yourself to be seen. Observe how life will step up to meet your authenticity and align miracles to match it.
When we commit to owning, celebrating and displaying our authentic unique selves, we truly begin to live as nature intended.
And always remember…
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” -Carl Jung
Kristen Brown, Author of From Doormat To Sweet Empowerment – www.sweetempowerment.com
The mind loves comparisons! It gives it something to fix on. It also loves to have problems to solve and to be in a state of wanting.
Have you noticed your mind can be lost for hours in wanting things to be different from how they really are? When we add to this the tendency we all have to compare ourselves with others we know we can get ourselves into a position of feeling inadequate and lacking in whatever it is we are comparing ourselves about.
At the root of this is often envy and a feeling of not being good enough. We may know it goes nowhere and that we only end up feeling miserable if we wallow in this, but it doesn’t seem to help.
How do we stop going down this road to nowhere?
The trick is to be mindful.
To become aware is the greatest first step. When you notice and observe that your mind is getting caught up in this old trap again, you can simply pause and gently bring your attention back to what is going on in the present moment. Take a breath and sense inwards to the moment at hand. You may feel grateful for this breath and for this moment in your life. You may be able to sense into your body and become aware of different sensations.
The practice of mindfulness increases our awareness and our capacity to notice when we are caught in stories or other unhelpful patterns.
You may sense inwards and notice feelings that you have. These may be feelings of joy or of discomfort. If you are comparing yourself you will most likely be feeling frustration and lack.
Welcome it all anyway and accept what is going on right now and know that things will not stay the same.
Knowing that now is what is but also that things will change, it’s a universal law, everything passes, gives you space to unhook from any stories of lack or limitation that are running your life. You can still enjoy imagining how great it will feel when you have what you desire, say, a loving relationship, a job you love, money for nice holidays or whatever it is. But this is different from wanting what others have and feeling bad because they have it and you don’t. Instead feel happy for them and enjoy imagining what it will be like when you too have created what you want.
Contact me for a free 10 minute chat to see how I can help you use mindfulness to reduce feelings of limitation, lack and envy in your life.
Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI – www.margieulbrickcounselling.com
Hands down, the best way I know to stop comparing yourself to others is to practice gratitude.
It’s natural to want to compare yourself to family, friends, co-workers, enemies, and cohorts. It’s a great way to know if you’re moving forward or doing the things you want to be doing in your life. It’s normal to feel jealous when others are doing things that are so much more interesting than what you’re doing right now. It’s also natural to gloat a little when you feel like you’re ahead of the game.
Social media is a great forum for showing others the great things that are happening in your life.
You see all those photos, blogs, videos, and posts in your newsfeed, and you want to see how you rate. The problem is that most people are showing what’s going great for them. They’re not talking about their everyday struggles to wake up and go to a job they don’t like or feeling like a failure when it comes to disciplining their children. They don’t talk about the many failures they went through before landing on the success of their new career.
We often compare our normal selves to the best selves of others around us.
Maybe your day is just ok, and maybe your small victories of the day are not exactly victorious. There will always be someone who is having the best day of their life and someone having the worst. No need to compare to either.
The best antidote I know is to practice gratitude.
Think of all the great things in your life, the people who love you just as you are, the things that make you want to wake up in the morning. Notice these things and take them in. You may find that these great things in your life are objects, but more often you will notice they are relationships or situations. Just sit with how they make you feel for a moment and take a couple of deep breaths. Write them down if that will help you remember them. Repeat this every day, maybe several times a day and feel the gratitude welling up within you. There is nothing that compares to you living the life you have chosen. Nothing.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
Let’s get real here. We all do it. It usually leaves us feeling icky inside. I’m talking about comparison. I believe there is a natural component to checking and being in touch with your surroundings, checking in to see how you’re progressing and evolving. However, our society has a tendency to take this natural progression to a whole unhealthy level. Hence the icky. I’ve listed some tips on how to decrease the icky, and increase the love for oneself!
1. Own it
Catch yourself comparing, observe your thoughts, and then notice how your body responds to the comparison? Does it cramp up in a feeling of “not good enough?” Own the behavior, “Wow, I’m struggling with comparing myself to this person/situation etc. It doesn’t feel beneficial.”
2. Release it
The next step is to give yourself the grace and permission to release the icky feeling, and the unhelpful thoughts. “ Wow, I’m struggling with comparing myself to this person/situation etc. It doesn’t feel beneficial, or productive, so I give myself permission to release these feelings and thoughts.”
We are not mind readers, or fortunetellers. We are clueless to the others reality, their situations, their struggles or their what goes on beyond their façade. So why compare? Have faith that you are right where you need to be in the life, and your struggles are your own, so work on you, and worry less about things you can’t control or fully comprehend, which are others situations.
Think about a baby learning how to walk. If they were busy comparing themselves, or worried about what others thought when attempting to learn how to move from crawling to walking, those babies would be so paralyzed in that icky feeling, majority wouldn’t be able to be walking today! Our struggle with comparison didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t release overnight. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! Give yourself the grace and patience you would give to the baby learning how to walk.
Jessica Hopkins, MA, NCC – www.thriveccofco.com
We live in a society that values “being the best”, yet this focus automatically assumes that the status of “the best” is in comparison to others. Many of us have swallowed this as our truth, and I believe we can look at this influence from a different angle.
In order to do this, we need to take some steps to get out of the comparison game:
1. Realize there is no way to “win”
Telling ourselves we want what someone else has, or that they are in a better position than we are for one reason or another is not a game – it’s bullying! Have you ever experienced someone saying “You cannot have a job like they’ve got… you’re too lazy” or “You’re not quite hot enough to snag that person”? How did it feel? Pretty awful, right?! Most of us have heard something like this, and it hurts…so why should you talk to yourself this way?
Be honest with yourself and ask, ‘if you achieved what another person has that you want, do you think you would be content?’ Probably not, because you would set your sights on the next person and what they have. Recognize that you have the power to stop this cycle by removing yourself from it – to focus on you, and you alone.
2. Catch yourself & redirect
Pay attention to your inner-bully. When you hear yourself comparing who you are to someone else and their goals, path, or experiences you are looking for meaning in your life via the privileges and accomplishments of someone else. There isn’t any real room for you, or your achievements and ambitions. Redirect your thoughts by asking “Are you comparing yourself to the other person’s negative or unflattering traits?” (Yes! They have those too!)
Reflect upon what you have tried or achieved in the last year, two years or even five years. Did you think you would have accomplished what you have? How have you improved yourself?
3. Expend what you want to attract
What are you looking for in your actions of comparing yourself to others – is it notoriety? Praise? Acceptance? Determine how to offer these traits and feelings to others. Tell someone they did a good job when you see it, or let them know you admire a certain quality they possess. Chances are, that person will appreciate your words that, guess what… leads to YOU feeling appreciated. See how that works?
What if we stopped assuming that the stance of “the best” was earned by demonstrating higher abilities, appearances, or status over others and accepted our performance, body, or triumphs as what is paramount for us? We are only in control of ourselves, and one of the greatest acts of kindness we can offer is to honor who we are and how we are growing as a person. After all, isn’t our consummate goal as human beings to be our best self?
Aimee Aron-Reno, MA, NCC, LPC – www.aimeearon.com
We live in an image conscious society.
We compare ourselves constantly to others in every area of our life: work, social status, appearance, competence and stuff. No matter what we are doing we can find a place to compare ourselves to someone or even something else. The act of comparing generally leaves us on the short end of the stick. We see ourselves as “less than.”
Sometimes we compare to feel better about ourselves.
We find someone who is definitely worse off and realize we don’t have it as bad as “they” do. Either way, comparing puts us on thin ice.
When we compare we are looking for some kind of validation for ourselves.
The problem is the validation is coming from outside of us, it’s not always accurate and we generally don’t stack up well.
If we’re looking to the outside for support or validation and get it, we feel good about ourselves. If we look at others and don’t get validated, we feel bad. Neither is beneficial.
The best way to deal with comparing is to STOP.
Whenever you notice you are doing it, say the word stop to yourself. Next, remind yourself that comparing is not going to benefit you. Ask what you think about yourself in that area.
Let’s say it’s your body. You see someone who looks better than you. Remind yourself that it won’t be helpful if you compare yourself to this person (which would result in feeling bad about yourself) or someone who you don’t think looks as good (which would lead to feeling better).
What do you think about your body? Notice the parts you like and state why. Notice the parts you don’t like and state why.
Do you have control to change the negative parts, like exercise or eating healthier? Sometimes not liking something creates a catalyst to make a change.
As you think about the changes and what it would take to get there, do you want to put in the work? You might decide the work isn’t worth it and you accept yourself as is.
You can translate this same process to any area where you compare yourself to others. Practice accepting yourself or your situation, change what you can or want to, let go of what you can’t or don’t want to.
Karen Thacker, LPC – www.journeyforward.net
A question I have just recently been pondering: Why do we compare ourselves to others?
I know part of the answer is that we want to be accepted. At times we also compare so that we can feel better about ourselves.
For me, growing up on three continents, my behaviors, accent, dress, manners and preferences were always on display.
Some cultures were more overt in pointing out my differences: a zit, length of dress or pooch in my belly. Others were in awe of the fact that I was an American; still others were proud and claimed me as their “sister” because I was born in their country.
I also judged, sometimes unfairly, the local customs and habits. This was my way of “rejecting you before you can reject me,” attitude which helped me cope, at least in the moment.
This incessant need to compare and contrast created a sense of angst within me.
I wanted to fit in, but at times it was glaringly obvious I did not. However, by observing how others behaved culturally, I could then adjust my own, and in time would fit in more seamlessly. So in a way, it was a double-edged sword: comparisons would drive a wedge but they also helped me become accepted.
Recently, I’ve been pondering how to stop this compulsion to compare in order to be accepted.
As a person of faith, I considered the teaching that our identity is in Christ. If this were to be true, what did it mean? How was that different say, than having my identity in how others viewed me, or in what I had, or if I measured up to some cultural standard? And if I understood what that meant, would it make any difference in how I lived?
So running with that thought, I realized that by comparing myself to others, I am looking to them to validate my existence.
If “they” say I am ok, then I am ok. If “they” say I am not, then I am not. Then I looked at what Christ said about me: I am loved. No conditions. No “ifs, ands or buts”. No comparisons. No hint of being accepted only if I measured up first. I was simply loved because I existed.
Now my journey is to fully understand that concept. I believe the more I can grasp that Christ loves me just as I am, with all my flaws, the more I can relax my comparison compulsion. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone; I don’t have to figure out how to be accepted because I already am.
I believe that this in turn will help me get off my high horse of “I am better than you” comparison, because I also know that the other person is loved and accepted in the same way.
Judy Hansen, MA, LPCC – www.powerforlivingtherapy.com
One of my very favorite quotes that I refer to often in therapy and in my own life is: “Comparison is the thief of joy”, said by Theodore Roosevelt.
Mr. Roosevelt was on to something big. Before the age of positive psychology or the strong push for self-awareness, he understood that we will never be truly joyful if we are continually comparing ourselves to others. There will always be someone smarter, better looking, more successful, stronger, and happier. When we look to others for our own self validation or measure of joy, we are setting ourselves up for continual let down and disappointment.
So how do you stop comparing yourself? Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Take a break from social media– You don’t need the constant comparison in your life. Checking your newsfeed or updating your status multiple times a day is not a helpful way to focus your energy. When you scroll through the news people or apps are positing, most of the time you end up walking away with something negative. People don’t post their “real” life, they post their “ideal” life. And who can compete with that?
2. Practice gratitude– Spend your energy focusing on the positives in your own life. What are you grateful for? How are you blessed? Keep a daily gratitude journal. Teach your brain to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Focus on the things you do have instead of the things you don’t.
3. Don’t let yourself get derailed– When you start to compare yourself to someone else, or start to feel bad about who you are, check yourself! Consciously recognize what you’re doing and get yourself back on track.
4. Stay in the present– The past causes depression and the future causes anxiety. Stay in the present as much as possible! It’s like driving a car and you’re looking out the windshield at where you currently are. The rearview mirror is the past. The side mirrors are the future.
Of course you need to glance at them every now and then to help your driving. But what would happen if you drove your car only looking at the mirrors? Depression and anxiety make you feel bad about the present and make you more susceptible of comparing yourself to those around you.
5. Take care of yourself– Be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion. Give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack! The better you take care of yourself, the less concerned you are with the things you don’t have. And the more energy you have to get the motivation to get to where you want.
6. Find validation from within yourself– Looking to others for validation will only set you up for failure. Looking within yourself to set your own bar is essential. You are in the place you’re at for a reason. Every person’s journey is different. Your journey isn’t supposed to be exactly like everyone else. There is no mold that is a one size fits all. Your own journey and what’s good for you is a healthy gage to be comparing yourself to.
Sarah Higgins, MA, MA, LPC – www.chrysalisfamilygrowth.com
Let’s be honest, Facebook can be depressing. Seems like everyone is posting how fabulous their lives are. And it doesn’t stop there, people in line at the grocery store, who seems to have everything you want; the body, the money, the life.
But are you sure? Do they really? How do you know? You don’t, you’ve created a story for them. We like to make up stories, they make us feel better. However, most of the time the stories we create are far from the truth. The stories we create in our minds can cause us a great deal of discomfort. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here’s a few ways to put an end to comparing yourself to others.
1. Take a step back– it’s so easy to get sucked into others’ perceived happiness. It’s a photo, an update, it’s something that conveys a message of happiness, luxury, a reminder to you of something you lack or are missing. STOP! See the post, the image for just what it is, someone sharing something about their life that brings them joy. Or perhaps they are trying to feel better, you don’t know. So, take the you out of it.
2. Stop the story before it starts– we like to make up stories about everything. Next time you start down the road of self comparison, creating the story about everything you are not and everything everyone else is. Stop the story. Remind yourself you don’t know the other person’s story. You only know yours and you can choose your story. Instead of telling the story of everything you are missing or want, tell the story of everything you have.
3. Remind yourself of how wonderful you are- it's that easy. Remind yourself of all the wonderful things in your life and about yourself. Start with three and see if you can’t get to 5, 10, 15 or 20. Shoot for 20 wonderful things about you and your life a day.
4. Challenge the inner judge/critic– the inner critic and judge feed off your insecurities. As soon as, they start, stop them. Thank them for showing up. Then challenge them. Whatever they have to say, have a counter.
5. Feed your inner cheerleader– let yourself shine. Accept compliments. Allow yourself to say nice things about yourself. You are a rock star! Let your inner cheerleader challenge your inner judge/critic.
6. Compassion, compassion and more compassion- Let yourself feel and accept love. Let yourself love. Remind yourself that we are living beings, each with a unique story. Whatever is missing or hurting, send it love in yourself and others.
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
Having a hero is great but it also has its pitfalls.
Watching and modeling ourselves after others inspires us to reach for amazing!
As a child, you may have put posters up on the wall of movie stars or Superwoman or your favorite beauty. From your bed you may have gazed at them wondering what it would be like to be them.
But then you would try out for a part in a play and be turned down because someone else was better.
Or you would lie to cover up your fear of taking responsibility.
Or you would look in the mirror….up at the poster of that model on the wall…back to the mirror. You know where that goes.
For a good part of my life the quote that I fought off reads, “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” This became the meaning I reverted to every time I was rejected or dismissed or failed to accomplish something.
Someone was always doing it better.
One day, a long time into my life, I realized that this was a trap. It was keeping me “small”.
I was locking up my potential in a room far away from anyone’s eyes just in case I might not be as great as someone else.
At that point in time, my housekeeping fell short of some of my friends.
My children were less well behaved and not as good at gymnastics or academics as others were.
I wasn’t as thin as other pretty women around me.
It’s then, thankfully, that another statement showed up in my life. It’s simple. It says, “I have strengths in other areas.”
Slowly I began to realize that I did have strengths in areas others didn’t.
I could speak in front of others without being terrified.
I had a gift for encouraging the deep hearts of my children.
My special creativity was not about the external as much as about strengthening and uplifting others.
I began to search out ways to unlock the door where my potential was hiding.
The true glory is that, over time, I stepped passionately into my life purpose which now consumes me.
So, rather than feel intimidated, I currently admire what I see as amazing qualities in those around me. My focus is an adventure of discovery to see how they can teach me what I may lack.
My heroes have now become my peers and mentors. And that is so much easier on me!
Bernice McDonald, Relationship educator- www.bernicemcdonald.com
Social media, and the media, in general are both a blessing and a curse in our society.
We are bombarded everyday with images and definitions of happiness, success, and beauty. Our cultural norms, and realities are being dictated to us from every turn, and it is almost suffocating at points for those of us who are on our own journeys of self- discovery. While these images can be helpful, and inspiring, at points, no one can escape feelings of envy when you see others enjoying their lives, when we are suffering.
It is natural for us to compare ourselves to others.
However, what we must remind ourselves is that social media never shows us the full picture. Everyone shows what they want the world to see, and usually they are peak experiences, mixed with airbrushing, and filters. They give us one moment and we fill in the blanks of the rest of their story, and create a life that we are envious of, without knowing the whole truth.
Everyone suffers. No matter what superficial gifts they have been given, life will create pain in every individual. Sometimes we see it. Sometimes it is hidden. Humans project onto others based on their own experiences. However, it is impossible for us to ever understand another person’s reality unless we have walked in their shoes. All we can attempt to do is enjoy other’s happiness when they experience it, and feel compassion and empathy when they suffer.
Use other people’s success, beauty, health, and lifestyle as motivation.
We will always compare. But, don’t put yourself down or feel self-pity. As soon as we can rejoice in other’s happiness and blessings, we can finally be open to receive ours.
Alisa Ruby Bash, LMFT – www.alisarubybash.com
Comparing ourselves to others may be one of the most detrimental things we can do for our self esteem.
When compared to the Facebook posts of our “friends,” our kids are never as well-mannered or athletic, our spouses never as romantic or wealthy, and our jobs never as glamorous or high-powered. Shutting off all our social media outlets might be one strategy for stopping the constant comparison to others. The problem with that is, comparisons are easy to make no matter where we are.
So here’s another idea: Have a little self-compassion. Treat yourself as you would treat a close friend or family member.
1. Set realistic expectations for yourself.
You would never expect a friend to raise 2 perfect children, work 50 hours a week, maintain a HGTV-worthy home at all times and still fit into her prom dress. So why do you expect that of yourself? Keep your expectations real and do-able in this lifetime.
2. Accept your idiosyncrasies.
We all have them: weird, quirky things that make us who we are. For example, I have a friend who can’t tell a joke to save her life; she always gets the punchline wrong. It’s one of the things I love about her. Embrace the parts of you that make you, you – even if they are, technically, imperfections.
3. Understand that you will make mistakes.
Why are we so much more accepting of other people’s missteps, failures and screw-ups than we are our own? I’m not sure. But I do know that most of us could stand to be as gracious to ourselves as we are to others.
Dr. Stephanie Smith – www.drstephaniesmith.com
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