“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”Albert Einstein
Although it’s more common than not comparing yourself to others, there’s no use in wasting your time on that. Sun and Moon are different; they move at different speeds, they are different sizes and they don’t even occupy the same space. Similarly, One person’s journey is not the same as anyone else’s, and it’s important to understand that. The way you live your life is the only way to live it. Don’t let the misery of others bring you down. All you need to do is live your life the best you can and be happy for others.
Social Comparison Theory was first proposed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger, who suggested that people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves based on comparison with others, whether it’s looks, talents, possessions, and more. There are two kinds of social comparison:
- Upward Social Comparisons are when we compare ourselves to others who we think are better than we are.
- Downward Social Comparisons are when we compare ourselves to others whom we think aren’t as good as we are.
You’ll either think of yourself as worse than someone else, or better than someone else. Neither of these is good. Stop comparing yourself to others.”In any field, you are bound to encounter people better than you are. Here’s the truth: Someone will always be better than you, more intelligent, more athletic, more powerful, more successful, more popular, more wealthy, or more attractive.
The bottom line is nobody is perfect especially when it comes down to comparing yourself to others. Comparisons usually negatively impact our emotional health and wellbeing. They make us feel small, insecure, inadequate, and unhappy because there is always someone better out there. Instead of focusing and working on what we can control, we see ourselves as failures and let self-pity obstruct our drive to succeed and change who we are today into something better tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are no boundaries or limits to what or who you can compare yourself to and our society loves to measure success based on the accomplishments of others.
The more you focus on other people, the more you begin to question your path, decisions, and state of affairs. As a result, your confidence is compromised and those stepping stones that lead to your goals turn into mountains. A domino effect ensues as you focus on everything going wrong in your life instead of everything right. You focus on the impossible instead of the possible. You see the glass half empty instead of half full. Inadequacy, self-doubt, and frustration set in when we so desperately want what other people have.
Sadly, if you’re spending most of your day looking at other people’s lives you’re not living your own. Stop scrolling LinkedIn and comparing your career with others. Stop scrolling Facebook and comparing your social life with others. Stop scrolling Instagram and comparing your travel adventures with others. Stop scrolling Twitter and comparing your popularity with others. Stop scrolling Strava and comparing your athleticism with others.
We are all born with the same level of dignity, value, and human worth and we all develop at a different rate – socially, mentally, and physically. Your journey will never be the same as someone else’s. No rule says you have to be married by 25 and have three kids by 30, or a Vice President at your company by age 40. Do not let the influences of the outside world dictate what you should be doing with your life or the pace at which you’re doing it. The only thing you should be concerned with is being a better person than you were yesterday. Stop focusing on what you can’t control (others) and focus on what you can control (yourself).
Never worry about the delay of your success compared to others, because the construction of a palace takes more time than an ordinary building. If you find yourself making comparisons with other people, don’t beat yourself up over it or feel guilty or ashamed. It’s a completely natural and common human tendency that is in your DNA. Our early ancestors used comparisons to make assessments of what other people were thinking. It takes strong self-awareness to acknowledge when it happens and to have the willpower to do something about it.
When you are constantly focusing on everyone else, you ignore what matters and what you can control yourself. There is a difference between wanting to be better and wanting to be better than someone else. Reject any notion that you need external proof of your self-worth. The only person you should compare yourself to is you. Comparing yourself to others is a distraction and a waste of valuable time. Your energy is better served by improving yourself.
Solutions to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”Oprah
1. Practice Self-awareness
It takes a strong degree of self-awareness to recognize when you are comparing yourself to others and to have the courage to do something about it. Social comparison often happens subconsciously and instinctively. Make a concerted effort to catch yourself when it does and identify the triggers that prompted it in the first place. Mindlessly scrolling social media is the biggest trigger for most of us, but it’s also prompted by other means, such as contact with certain individuals and activities like walking or driving through an expensive shopping district or neighborhood.
2. Create Goals
Quit using your peers as a benchmark for success. That’s a recipe for failure and disappointment. We all have unique needs, values, interests, and goals. Set short, medium, and long-term SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals that are particular to your aspirations. Successful people are constantly changing, growing, and learning new things to improve themselves. Do not settle for the status quo. You are never too old or not talented enough.
3. Show Gratitude
Remember, appreciate and show gratitude for all of the good in your life and you’ll be less vulnerable to comparison and envy. For example, make it a habit to write down three things that you’re grateful for at the end of each day. People who regularly practice gratitude by appreciating and reflecting on things they’re thankful for experience increased well-being, happiness, and satisfaction.
4. Know your Strengths
You are successful because of who you are, not who you aren’t. Stop focusing on your weaknesses and start focusing on your strengths. That’s what makes you unique, different, and valuable. People who focus on their strengths are proven to be happier, less stressed, confident, and more satisfied.
5. Exercise Self-reflection
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. As long as you have specific goals, you can compare where you are today to where you were when you set them to monitor your progress. Where are you today compared to yesterday? Last week? Last month? Last year? Progress is progress no matter how slow or small. Keep pushing forward. Never give up.
6. Log off
The next time you are on social media, take an inventory to see how it makes you feel. Disconnect, limit your use or unfollow people that illicit negative emotions or Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). It’s increasingly becoming a place that people use to grow and market their brand. It’s unhealthy when you obsess over it daily and wastes precious time that you can be dedicated to what you can control – your own life.
7. Enjoy the Journey
We each have our unique journey. Love your past, present, and future. Be proud of your achievements and triumphs, however large or small. Find your passion and purpose in life. Learn from past mistakes and successes, practice continuous self-improvement and pursue your goals – not the goals of someone else or what society is currently glorifying.
8. Swap Comparison for Inspiration
Instead of feeling jealous, inferior, threatened, or demotivated by others, feel inspired and be happy for their success and achievements. Live your life with the belief that there is always something you can learn from others. If your colleague got the promotion and you didn’t, take an internal audit and determine ways you can set yourself up for success the next time around.
9. Have a Win-Win Attitude
Rid yourself of a winner-takes-all mentality. A win-win attitude will create mutually beneficial relationships built on strong trust. Life isn’t a zero-sum game. Happiness is not a limited resource. Someone else’s happiness and success don’t mean that your life is less valuable or important.
10. Love Yourself
There are more than 7 billion people in the world and only one you. You are important, original, and unique. Recognize your own self-worth and be grateful for what you have. Accept your flaws and imperfections with honor and grace. Someone else doesn’t have to fail for you to succeed and vice versa. Do not define your value by comparing yourself to others. Realize that no one has a perfect life and that what you see on social media is like watching a fake reality TV show. Be confident and proud of who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done and the direction you’re going. When you’re happy with your own life, you care less about what everyone else is doing and focus on what matters.
Quit comparing your behind-the-scene progress at work to what your colleagues have publicly done. It could end up being a recipe for disappointment and resentment so make sure that you are trying to work hard and improve yourself personally on both a small scale (daily) and large scale (yearly/long-term). No one else’s journey will be the same as yours so make sure that you are making decisions that are YOURS based on YOU. Even successful people set goals so they can hit them and get better. You are never too old or not talented enough to become whomever you want to just take some time every day to do something meaningful, long, short, or mixed with other things in whatever way you most like, etc! “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”Eleanor Roosevelt, Are there any other ways to eliminate comparing yourself to others? Share your thoughts in the comments below.