I find it is so easy to get caught up in a never-ending loop of comparing myself to others. What about you?
It is not surprising that so many of us struggle with comparing ourselves to others. Our whole economic system, capitalism, is built on comparison.
All of us get bombarded daily through media with messages that we “are not enough”, “don’t have enough”, “don’t look good enough”, “don’t make enough”, “are not young enough”, “not fit enough”, and so on. We are told that by buying certain things, changing our looks, making more money or achieving more, we will finally feel good about ourselves.
Yet, I know that outer change does not have the power to create lasting inner change. You might get a short high from a purchase, raise, or nose job, but after that, you will soon return to how you felt previously.
Or, you might feel even worse about yourself, disillusioned that self-acceptance and happiness cannot be attained that way. It might leave you wondering, how will you ever be able to feel better about yourself.
The upside of social media is that we are connected with the whole planet at the click of a button. The downside is that it can easily lead to negative comparisons.
A friend of mine once said that everybody looks like a rock star on social media, and I think he had a good point. Often, online profiles are highly edited versions of our lives, missing the raw and challenging parts that every life contains. There is no life without pain for any of us.
I think it is important to remember that whenever you compare yourself to another person, envying what they have, wishing you would be able to swap your life with theirs, what you really do is compare yourself to the fantasy of how you think it would be to walk in this person’s shoes.
However, nobody knows what really goes on in another person’s world, but that person her/himself. One thing I have learned for sure from my profession is that deep down, things often look very different than they appear to be on the surface.
The good news is that comparing yourself to others is optional suffering and it can be unlearned. It is a bad thinking habit, and every bad habit can be changed with consistency and determination.
Interested? If yes, here are some steps you can take to unlearn this destructive thinking habit:
1. Remind yourself regularly of your intrinsic worth and choose radical self-acceptance.
Take time regularly to remind yourself that you are a wonderful, unique human being, full of light and potential, who has no need comparing yourself to others. Your focus needs to be on living YOUR BEST LIFE. The more you do that, joy will follow.
Whenever a comparison thought arrives, welcome it and be curious about what it wants to teach you. See it as a friendly messenger. For example, if your thought is, “Melissa is skinnier than me, she is a better mom and wife”, ask yourself, what does this thought reveal about how you see yourself and what is your growth opportunity in this moment.
For example, in this case, the thought might teach you that you have not accepted yourself fully yet, and this moment invites you to radically start loving all that you are, to show compassion and kindness towards yourself.
2. Anger can be helpful.
When learning to let go of comparing yourself to others, anger can come in handy. Get a bit pissed off and feisty, start standing up for yourself and have your back.
You could say something like, “I am done with that shit, I am done with comparing myself to a fantasy. All that matters is to live my best possible life. I will focus on that”.
The world does not need another Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, or Tom Brady, but it needs the fullest expression of who YOU are!
3. Be smart about what you feed your mind.
Limit exposure to media that gets you stuck in the comparison loop. Ask yourself, is what I am exposing my mind to helping me feel good about myself, to feel content and positive about my life?
I observe with many of my clients, that social media is dragging them down, triggering feelings of not being good enough, missing out, or not measuring up.
For myself, I have made the decision to pretty much opt-out of social media, this allows me to have a more peaceful mind. That works for me. When I connect with people I care about, I do that mostly face-to-face.
However, if this is too radical for you, I get it. You could start out by taking a small step, like giving yourself an hour after waking up before touching your phone, putting a time limit on how much time you spend in social media land, or minimizing the number of apps you use.
3. Compare both ways.
It is easy for our brains to focus on what we don’t have.
Choose to look the other way and compare both ways. Take a moment to notice how you have it better than so many other people. Remind yourself regularly of all the good things in your life.
By doing that, you increase your awareness that actually a lot is going well right now in your life.
4. Choose Gratitude.
Gratitude is the antidote to comparison, jealousy, and dissatisfaction. Check out my blogs, “The Power of Gratitude – a Quick Way to Move from Dissatisfaction to Contentment”, or “Expand the Good: How to Increase Happiness in Your Life”, if you want to learn how to increase gratitude in your life.
Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, showed that gratitude has the power to increase happiness in our lives instantaneously.
5. Celebrate the success of others.
You can choose to see the joy and success of another person adding to humankind’s overall happiness and therefore to your own happiness.
You can change your inner dialogue, saying to yourself, “I choose to be a person who celebrates with others their achievements and successes. I choose to let go of all the negative comparison and jealousy as it only poisons my life”.
Even if you don’t feel your emotions change in the beginning, that’s ok. Over time, as you stay consistent with this choice, it will become part of your inner fabric and the feelings of joy and peace will follow.
I feel confident that all of those new habits, if implemented consistently over time, will lead to a lasting positive change in your life, increase inner satisfaction and self-acceptance, and helping you leave comparisons behind.
Remember, you are more than enough, and your only goal needs to be TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE and become the best possible version of you. The world will be better for it.
This post is part of the blog series "Creating Happiness", your inspiration to promote positive change in your life.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ms Daniela Beer-Becker, Psychologist
Daniela is a regular contributor to the Blake Psychology blog and author of the "Creating Happiness" series.
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