Many years ago I had a friend, I’ll call Joy, that would spend all her time making comparisons. I’m not exaggerating when I say that she once made the following comment: “Your plates are square, but ours are round.” Whenever I was around her, I felt irritated, anxious, and even annoyed. Why was she spending all her waking hours comparing her life to others? This led me to examine a more prudent question, which is how to stop comparing yourself to others.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fair to assume that you may suffer from anxiety, resentment, and depressive thoughts when you get into the trap of comparing yourself to others.
Unlike Joy, you probably don’t obsess about these comparisons.
However, you would probably benefit from learning how to stop comparing yourself to others.
Why do we compare ourselves?
To begin with, it’s normal to compare yourself to others. Blame it on our ancestors and your brain which uses comparison to figure out how you measure up to other people.
Interestingly enough, this happens in a split of a second and you probably don’t even realize it.
However, it becomes a problem when you start dwelling on the highlights of other people’s lives. That’s when a comparison can become toxic.
Remember, we’re all wired for connection and belonging.
However, if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, like Joy, you put your mental health, happiness, and confidence at risk.
Do you have a problem comparing yourself to others?
Unlike my friend Joy, maybe you don’t obsess about other people’s lives in comparison to yours but you’re wondering if you have a problem with it?
To find out, ask yourself these questions:
- Have you ever made an impulse purchase on Instagram?
- Do you feel anxious or a fear of missing out after being on social media?
- Do you immediately feel annoyed when something good happens to someone else?
- Have you ever deleted a post on social media because it didn’t get the response you wanted?
- Do you check who has viewed your Instagram story or liked your Facebook post several times a day?
If you answered yes to more than two of these questions, then there’s a chance that you’re prone to falling into the comparison trap.
No judgment here! I’m guilty of worrying about what other people think about me too.
However, I know that you and I are better than that. We were made for more than stressing and worrying and feeling like we’re failing!
Instead, we’re going to create and live a superb life based on our own terms.
7 practical ways to stop comparing yourself to others
I wish I could tell you that I’m a pro and that I never compare myself to others.
The truth is, it happens frequently.
As a woman, I’m constantly bombarded with images of what an ideal body looks like. So I have to consciously steer myself away from the nagging comparison voice in my head.
So if you want to learn how to stop comparing yourself to others, know that it’s something that I am still working on myself.
However, I can share some specific steps and principles I’ve applied to my own life to help me take my eyes off of other people and put them back on creating a life I love.
1. Practice gratitude
One of the best things you can do if you notice yourself comparing yourself to others is to practice gratitude.
Next time you notice a comparison happening, quickly identify what you’re grateful for in your life. In doing so, you actually rewire your brain.
In fact, when you practice gratitude, there’s a boost of dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. As a result, you feel happier and even smarter.
To begin, here’s how to start a gratitude practice and change your life.
2. Unlock the power of happiness
We all strive to be happy, ultimately that’s what we all want in our lives, isn’t it?
Sometimes when we’re comparing ourselves to others, we imagine that they are happier, more successful, or wealthier than we are.
But how do you REALLY know? Unless you’re living beside them, you have NO idea what their life is really like.
You only know what they’re conveying to you.
So instead of focusing on how great someone else’s life is, unlock the power of your OWN happiness.
Since there’s no magic potion, I looked at what the experts have to say about how to be happy and discovered 10 tips that will lead you to a happier and more joyful life.
3. Don’t compare your life to everyone else’s highlight reel
If you really want to learn how to stop comparing yourself to others, then this is the #1 tip to follow.
When you’re glancing at Instagram or Facebook, you’re looking at a filtered and altered version of reality.
You hardly see folks posting a video of themselves fighting with their partner, their baby screaming and puking, or having a full-blown-out panic attack.
If you’re feeling especially depressed, or anxious, then stop your trigger finger and DO NOT go onto social media. Studies have actually demonstrated that social media can cause depression, anxiety, and other health challenges.
4. Focus on your strengths
One of the key aspects of positive psychology is to focus on your strengths. When you learn to do this, you realize how talented, intelligent and resilient you are.
If you’re unsure how to identify your strengths, you can take the free VIA character strengths survey.
Identifying your strengths and directing them to foster your well-being is one of the most effective ways to stop comparing yourself to other people and feel happier.
5. Learn to compete with yourself instead of others
Another hot tip to learn how to stop comparing yourself to others is to compete with yourself.
I know, this sounds a bit weird but hear me out.
In high school, I was a sprinter in track and field. In short, I was terrible and it was NOT the right sport for me.
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Yet, I walked away with some powerful lessons. My coach didn’t care that I wasn’t the fastest sprinter, only that I was improving my time and getting stronger.
So instead of focusing on how fantastic someone else’s life is, compete with yourself by setting goals and intentions.
6. Have boundaries around how much time you spend on social media
Do you find yourself frequently checking your social media feed? Maybe you’re bored, tired, lonely, or just in line at the grocery store?
Instead, come up with a plan and stick to it. Perhaps you set an alarm and allow yourself 15 minutes to peruse your favorite feeds in the morning?
After your 15 minutes end, you stop and move along with your day.
If this is something that you find especially hard to do, then you can uninstall apps or turn off notifications.
7. Love your life not theirs
Something I read a while back really stuck with me.
In her book, Love Your Life Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want, Rachel Cruze talks about a time when she was experiencing postpartum depression while at home with her newborn.
While breastfeeding, she would look at her social media feed and immediately wonder why she wasn’t having a picturesque picnic with her children.
Instead, she was home feeling tearful, exhausted, and bloated.
Then something transpired. She did not want to feel that way anymore.
So take it from me and Rachel, focus all your energy and resources to enhance and love your own life instead of someone else’s.
So you may wonder what happened to my friend Joy who was obsessed with comparing herself to others.
Eventually, I decided I had enough and ended our friendship.
Though Joy was a nice person, I could no longer tolerate her neurotic obsession with comparisons. I realized that I did not like who I was around her nor did I appreciate her chronic negativity.
If you are on the path of figuring out how to stop comparing yourself to others, know that it’s a lifelong journey. We’re naturally prone to comparison (blame it on biology) but we’re also capable of changing.
The best steps you can take to stop making comparisons are to focus on your strengths, limit your time on social media and compete with yourself, not others. Practicing gratitude and learning to love your life also help immensely!
What has helped you stop comparing yourself with other people? What recommendations do you have for people you are trying to work on this? Please share your stories and comments below.