Do you constantly compare yourself to other people?
Do you often find yourself thinking that other people have more than you or are better than you?
The comparison game is as old as humanity itself.
I guess we all want to know how we measure up to other people. This drive is a part of our innate desire to understand ourselves, and our place in society.
In recent times, however, social comparison has risen to a whole new level thanks to social media. It’s almost become an epidemic.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And he was right.
For most people, the tendency to continually compare themselves with others gives rise to a whole host of negative feelings: envy, anger, resentment, bitterness and depression.
It causes deep psychological distress.
Ultimately, it can lead to a seriously diminished and damaged sense of self, affecting a person’s well-being and their experience of life.
If you’re prone to engaging in this soul-destroying habit and find yourself constantly feeling bad about yourself and your life, here’s what you can do about it.
1. Boost Your Self-Worth
Work on improving your view of yourself – because the root of the problem is most likely to be low self-worth.
If you feel good about yourself and your achievements, what others are doing won’t bother you.
On the other hand, if you have a poor image of yourself, you will go out of your way to find evidence that you’re a failure.
Seeking out people who are ‘better’ than you only serves to reinforce the limiting belief you hold about yourself.
It makes you feel worse, and in this way, you continue the downward spiral.
If you need some tips on how to improve your self-worth, I’ve written an entire blog on this topic, which you can find here: How to Cultivate Greater Self-Worth
2. Increase Your Self-Awareness
All personal transformation starts with greater self-awareness.
Many people engage in social comparisons without even realising that that is what they’re doing. It’s such a habitual way of being for them that they’re not even aware of the thoughts and feelings that arise within them.
The solution therefore lies in becoming conscious.
You need to bring these comparative thoughts to the forefront of your consciousness by actively looking out for them.
If you focus on these thoughts for a few days, it will get easier to notice what you’re doing.
And, once you realise you’re making these comparisons, you can simply press pause and choose a different focus.
You can replace the negative thoughts with more positive ones.
3. Become Aware of and Avoid Your Triggers
Start noticing the situations that prompt you to play the comparison game. Social media is a big one for most of us.
But what about other circumstances?
Is there a certain person who’s constantly bragging about this or that, or who asks you questions about your life that are intended to make you feel inferior?
Are there certain activities, such as strolling through a high-end shopping centre or driving through an expensive neighbourhood, that frequently make you feel discontented with your life (when you were feeling just fine an hour before)?
Make a list of who and what you frequently envy or compare yourself to.
Write down the negative effects that each of these comparisons has on you, and why it’s actually a waste of your time.
Resolve to catch yourself next time.
Avoid comparison triggers if you can, especially if the activity or contact doesn’t add meaning or any real value to your life.
4. Realise that Making Comparisons Is Unfair
Know that you’re not comparing like with like. You can’t compare someone’s outside with your inside!
Subjective comparisons are always unfair.
We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
Hardly anyone displays their worst traits/moments in public, so the images you’re comparing yourself to are not the whole truth about the other person.
This makes the whole ‘game’ skewed and pointless.
5. Recognise that Having Stuff Does Not Equate to Happiness
Don’t be fooled into thinking that people with loads of ‘stuff’ are happy.
We all know that things, in and of themselves, don’t bring happiness.
In fact, it’s well established that, beyond having the basics in life, wealth is not associated with increased happiness or well-being.
6. Understand that You’re in a No-Win Situation
You can never win at the comparison game. There’s always going to be someone out there who has more, is more, than you.
There’s no end to the possible number of comparisons you could make.
The habit can never be overcome by attaining success or acquiring possessions.
There will always be something – or someone – else to focus on.
7. Resolve to Quit Wasting Time
Understand that comparisons are a complete waste of your time. They keep you focussed on other people and their lives and distract you from the important things that you should be doing to improve yourself and your life.
Every minute you spend wishing you had someone else’s life is a minute spent wasting your own.
There are 1,440 minutes in each day. Using even one of those to compare yourself, or your accomplishments, to another is one minute too many.
You can never get that time back, so use your time wisely.
8. Count Your Blessings
A better way is to focus on what you do have and what you’re already blessed with.
This includes your own personal qualities.
Count what you have, not what you don’t have.
Think about how lucky you are to have what you have, to have people in your life who care about you, to be alive at all.
Be grateful for the good in your life and resist any lies that scream: It’s not enough!
9. Focus on Your Strengths
Instead of looking at your weaknesses, ask yourself what your strengths are.
Celebrate them! Be proud of them. Feel good about them and work on using them to your best advantage.
The truth is you’re too unique to compare fairly with anyone else.
Your strengths, gifts, talents, successes, contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world.
They can never be rightly measured against anyone else.
10. Use Comparison as a Motivator
Instead of using comparisons to make yourself feel bad, why not use them to improve the things that actually matter to you in your own life?
The only time the comparison game is productive is when you notice something in another person that carries deep worth for you.
Examples include kindness, generosity, serenity and humility.
Who do you admire?
What kinds of comparisons might actually be healthy for you?
Who inspires you to be the best version of yourself?
Notice your responses and find ways of bringing more of those positive qualities into your life.
11. Compare Yourself … to Yourself
Rather than comparing yourself to other people, get into the habit of comparing your present self with your past self.
See how much you’ve grown, what you’ve achieved, and the progress you’ve made towards your goals.
This practice has the benefit of fostering gratitude, appreciation and kindness towards yourself.
As you begin to observe how far you’ve come, the obstacles you’ve overcome, and the good deeds you’ve done, you will feel good about yourself without having to think less of other people.
Breaking free of the destructive habit of comparison may require some effort, but the rewards are significant: greater self-acceptance, more contentment, and the freedom to be yourself.