Just like learning how to cope with uncertainty, I’ve had to put in place mechanisms that help me manage the uncomfortable feelings of comparison that have come since putting myself in a public space. And I wanted to share these 6 steps to help others reflect on how to stop comparing yourself to others.
If you read my recent blog (I feel like a proper mug) you’ll know that I absolutely hate competition. It stems from my school days and feeling not good enough in any area to succeed. So rather than try, I’d shy away from anything that involved competition or rejection.
But running away is never the solution. Instead, it’s better to acknowledge those feelings and find a way to work through them so you can approach things from a better space.
#1 Take back control
I think social media is responsible for most of the comparisons we make with other people. Without realising it, you are making judgments based on all the feedback your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages are sending you. And this can really mess with your mood and self-esteem.
I took back control so that I was in charge by taking the following steps:
- not turning on my phone until I have completed my morning routine so am in a good mindset
- reducing social media usage (I literally put my phone in a different room to stop myself checking it on autopilot)
- block the people that really made me feel bad. There were a couple of people I followed that (by no fault of their own) would just make me feel really bad whenever I saw what they were up to….usually because I thought they were always doing better than me. So I blocked them from my platforms. Now I can’t find them and torture myself will ill feelings even if I want to.
#2 Write down your goals
Goal setting can be a really positive thing because it helps you realise where you want to be. Having them somewhere visible will remind you why you need to stay focused and where you are heading.
My coach, Charlotte Fowles, told me something once which really helped me stop comparing myself to others. The people I compare myself to most are the ones who I feel threatened by, the ones who I feel I am competing with. Charlotte asked me ‘if they wrote down their goals would they be the same as yours?’
It was a moment of realisation. We, all of us, have very different goals that we want to achieve in life. There is no one out there with the exact same vision as you have. You can’t compare yourself with others who are running a different race.
#3 Practice gratitude daily
Often if I compare myself to others I am left feeling bad about my own life and situation. I’ll have a feeling that I am lagging behind everyone else. It’s almost never as bad as my brain will make me believe!
A great way to stay positive about your life and to look at the good things you have is to practice gratitude daily:
- Either at the start or end of each day (or both) list 10 things that you are grateful for right now in your life. The best is to write it down in a journal as this really reaffirms the point.
#4 Know you make someone else feel that way too!
I find comparing myself to others can put me in a state that only allows me to see where I’ve yet to go and not how far I’ve come.
While I look on at so-and-so with envy and a feeling like their life is so much better and I’m doing terrible, I’m forgetting that there is someone looking at me and my life and thinking the same. And there is someone looking at that person thinking the same. And so on.
Such is the nature of humans. The grass is always greener! And then you get there, and it often isn’t.
#5 Is it really as rosy as you think?
Take a moment to think about the person that you are comparing yourself to. And not just in an I-hate-you-and-hope-your-hair-falls-out kind of way. Think about their lives beyond what you know. What things might you not know that might actually make the situation very different from what you think it is?
There’s always more going on than you realise and while you’re focusing on how amazing their life is you are probably overlooking the part that isn’t all rosy and the insecurities they also have. Comparing yourself often involves painting a 2D unrealistic portrayal of another person and making judgements too quickly.
#6 Force yourself to say something positive
If I see someone has succeeded in something and I feel that pang of envy I try to force myself to be positive. Out loud I make myself say something nice about this success:
Scenario: The girl that I’ve felt threatened by my whole life has just announced her engagement to Bradley Cooper
Me: I’m really happy for her, she deserves to be with someone she loves
The trick is to try and genuinely feel happy for them. We live in such a cut-throat world where it’s all about oneupmanship. We don’t need everyone else to be miserable and doing badly for us to be achieving our dreams. It’s good to force your brain to realise this by celebrating others successes.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
I actually don’t think it’s possible to stop comparing entirely. Even though I’m conscious I do it and take these positive steps, sometimes it creeps up on me. I find myself lost in Facebook newsfeed looking at someone else’s profile for no other purpose than to make me feel bad about my own life. Do you do this too?