We’re all guilty of taking part in the comparison game. Common statements that come up are things like…
“I wish I was skinnier”
“I wish I was more buff.”
“I wish I could get a high paying job like them.”
“I wish I was accepted into a prestigious university.”
“I wish I had as many friends as the popular kids.”
“I wish I was in a relationship.”
“I wish I had enough money to travel the world.”
And honestly, the list goes on.
There are plenty of people out there in the world that have what you want or have some aspect of life that you desire. Comparing yourself can be a form of motivation & inspiration, when used to positively push yourself toward your goals. However, more often than not, people take part in comparison through negative and toxic means. We see people for what they have and see ourselves as beings that are “lacking.” Are we actually lacking though?
One of my favorite sayings I hear around the coaching and personal development community is “Community over competition.” This is such an important statement I hold close to my heart because it emphasizes connecting with one another, rather than seeing them as an enemy or competitor. We can all exist within the same community & still offer something different to society. Our gifts and skills make us unique, and mixed with our individual experiences, we create such a diverse array of people that make our community so strong.
When we look at ourselves in our studies, business/career, or general lives, we have to ask ourselves these questions eventually.
What are my goals? What do I want to achieve? What do I want to be known for? What kind of life do I want to have?
And these simple questions can have some heavy weighted answers.
Thinking of our responses to these questions, we may come up with answers that are rooted in the comparison of ourselves to people who have what we want/desire. Like I said earlier, comparison can be good when you are seeking an idea of what you may want or a general path to achieve that, but it can go downhill if not monitored. One example could be a student wanting to get into a good college, so they sacrifice their physical well being to study, depriving themselves of sleep and proper nourishment everyday. Another example could be wanting to lose weight, following fitness gurus on social media and comparing themselves so much that they begin to have an eating disorder such as bulimia, where they eat food but force themselves to throw up afterward to maintain their weight.
Regardless of the type of self-comparison you fall victim to, it isn’t too late to try and minimize (or preferably) prevent it from now on. It’s completely normal to want something you don’t have. It can motivate you, and once you achieve your goal, you can have something to be proud of and it can set the example for others in your community to achieve their goals as well. It can be a positively reinforcing cycle if we choose to partake in it.
Again, if we celebrate the success of others in our communities, we can lift up everyone. We can increase representation and influence in society, which is a huge step forward. Shifting our way of thinking that we could never be successful to, “If someone who looks like me did it, I can do it as well!” can go such a long way. Contributing to a growth mindset is a whole lot better than a mindset of crippling self-criticism.
Now, I know you clicked this article to figure out what you can do to limit self comparison. Here are a few tips that have proved to be helpful:
- Honor your own accomplishments & celebrate them.
- If you’re always looking at others and never yourself, you get distracted from the present. And you know what’s in the present? You. You and your accomplishments. Be aware of what you have, and essentially count your blessings. If you can celebrate what you have accomplished, it’ll be easier for you to see other’s accomplishments as something good too, rather than something to be envious of.
- Reflect on who you were 5 years ago.
- Sometimes we are too focused on the future self we want to become. We compare ourselves to people who have what we want or embody a lifestyle you want to have. But if you take a moment to be present, soak in where you are now, and reflect on who you were 5 years ago, you’ll end up being surprised at how much you’ve grown since then.
- Refocus on the journey, not just the end result.
- When we focus too much on the end result, we miss out on the journey and the steps we take to get there in the first place. Also, everyone’s journey is different when getting to a certain end result. So expecting that your journey will be identical to another person’s is foolish. Focus more on how your journey is individual to you. And keep the focus on you as much as you can.
- Be kind to others.
- When we share kindness with people in our community, we move away from the mindset of having our guard up and being skeptical of other peoples’ success. Give genuine compliments and don’t intentionally bring others down. Good karma will come your way.
Self-comparison can get toxic if we don’t keep ourselves in check and practice self-awareness. These are just a few simple tips, but they can go a long way when implemented with the proper intentions in place. Do you have any tips on limiting self-comparison?