When was the last time you compared yourself to others? Pretty recently, huh? We all compare ourselves with others, in terms of our appearance, salary, exam score, life partners, family, and whatnot. Even though we know and realize this comparison is making us sad, unproductive, driving us crazy, we can’t stop it completely. Why? Now, with social media comparing is easier than ever before!
We keep comparing someone’s highlights on social media to our behind the scenes
How to stop this and come out of the vicious circle? Let’s see….
Why do we compare ourselves to others?
Social psychologist Leon Festinger in his social comparison theory, says that we compare ourselves to others for 2 reasons. One, to reduce uncertainty in the areas of comparison and second, to define ourselves.
After all, we humans are designed to self-evaluate ourselves all the time. And apparently, comparison helps in this. According to Festinger, humans can evaluate themselves only in relation to something/someone else. They can't do it independently. So, it’s not really your fault you know?!
Festinger also says the more similar a person is to you, the more the urge to compare will be. You are more likely to compare your exam scores to your batch mate rather than to a senior. You are more likely to compare your body to your colleague rather than to Jennifer Aniston!
There might be some other reasons for your comparison, like your insecurity, societal conditioning, low self-esteem and self-worth, lack of self-love, etc.
But what happens when we compare?
Now we know, comparing is normal among us humans. But what this comparison does to us is not good.
When you start comparing yourself to others,
You lose focus on your own work and goals
You will experience low self-worth and self-doubt
It wastes your time and energy
It will make you procrastinate
It is indeed a very unproductive way to spend your precious time!
So, my friend, comparing is not good! Let’s see 9 practical ways to stop comparing yourself to others.
1. Recognize that you’re comparing
Are you feeling low for no real reason? Are you procrastinating a lot? Observe whether you are using too much social media, observe if you’re comparing yourself. Try to listen to the thoughts behind your feelings. Do they say “I wish I had a life like her”, “I am not as good an artist as him”, “everyone is doing so much except me”? If you’re getting caught up in such thoughts constantly, it’s time for you to get to work (work on yourself and your thoughts)
2. Take inspiration
Instead of thinking “oh I wish I could do that”, think “Oh it’s so inspiring, maybe I can try too”. Instead of urging to beat someone, think of everyone’s journey as an inspiration.
3. Study the pain
It’s very easy to see someone successful and envy them. But how did they get there? Study their journey. Reach out and ask about the challenges they overcame, failures they handled, criticisms they faced. Study the pain behind the success, then the story will no longer be an envious one, but an inspiration.
4. Write a gratitude list
“I wish I could live in a house like that” “ I wish I had that car” “Why don’t I get as much salary as my friends?” We get these thoughts pretty often. But can we replace them with “I am so grateful to have a roof over my head” “I am grateful that I have a bike to travel” “I am grateful for all the money and resources i have”? When you start comparing, write a gratitude list and feel the gratitude for all the wonderful things you have.
5. Celebrate others
Why does everything have to be about ourselves? We can be happy for others, we can celebrate others. Realize that your worth doesn’t decrease just because someone did well.
6. Write down your strengths
This is an important exercise for your self-esteem. Make a list of your strengths and keep it handy. Whenever you feel low and compare yourself, take a good look at the list and it’ll boost your morale.
7. Do a social media detox
Dr Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale university says in her course ‘the science of wellbeing’ “our minds don’t think in terms of absolute, it always thinks relatively, comparative to others”
Our mind unconsciously compares when we are scrolling through social media or watching TV. Research has shown that our minds don’t set logical reference points. That means we compare our bodies to models’ and actors’ bodies, we compare our salaries to millionaires.
So do a social media detox once in a while. Remove all apps from your phone, announce that you’re on a break and hold someone accountable. I did this recently and oh! such a bliss it is!
8. Keep a record of small achievements
My therapist told me to paste a sheet on my wall and keep filling it with all my small achievements every day. It might be, you woke up on time, you let an unhealthy thought go, you focused better on the task in hand, you smiles at a stranger, it might be anything tiny. Don’t disqualify these minor achievements. Keeping a record of them is very helpful to lift up your confidence when you fall into a comparison pit.
9. Love yourself unconditionally
The only way to stop comparing is to accept and love yourself just the way you are. It’s very important not to attach any condition to love yourself. “If I get good marks, I will love myself” “If I become more productive I’ll love myself” NO…… You need to love yourself unconditionally, all the time. Go embrace your super awkward self! Check this out to know how to love yourself unconditionally.
Finally, think rationally….
Has this person you’re comparing yourself to have the same situation as you? Same exposure, same education, parenting, genes, everything? If not, how can you compare?
Are you comparing your page 1 to someone’s page 100? Did you both even start at the same point?
Are you comparing your average qualities to someone’s best qualities? Have you got some other best qualities?
Think my friend, and stop comparing.
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