According to Psychology Today, research shows that as much as 10 percent of our thoughts involve some degree of comparison. With the popularity of social media and how accessible other people’s lives are these days, I wouldn't be surprised if this percentage is higher. While a little bit of comparison has been shown to motivate and can promote self-growth, too much comparison may lead to negative feelings, self-destruction, avoidance or the pursuit of the impossible. If you are guilty of comparing yourself to other people and letting those thoughts bring you down, congratulations on acknowledging the problem because now you have the self-awareness to make positive life changes. Here are some suggestions to help you stop comparing yourself to other people and start focusing on bettering yourself!
What evidence do you have that makes these thoughts true?: Once you’ve established good self-awareness to your thoughts, question them. When you compare yourself to others and talk yourself down, it’s very easy to believe your thoughts. Thoughts are very powerful and can feel very real to the person having them. I challenge you to start questioning your negative comparison thoughts by saying “what evidence do I have that makes these thoughts true?” Most of the time, there isn’t concrete evidence that makes our comparisons valid!
Focus on yourself: Let’s be realistic, in life there are people who are good looking, successful, high achieving, motivated or “better” at something. While some fixate on these things, keep in mind the only person you have full control over is yourself. So instead of putting all of your energy into what “they” are doing, refocus your energy into bettering yourself. Think about what drives you and what you want to achieve. Trust me, you’ll get much further in your own life this way.
Stop believing in perfection: One thing that we all have in common is imperfection. Yes, it’s true, NOBODY IS PERFECT. This includes the “perfect” lives depicted on social media and the person you’ve told yourself is much better than you. Nobody has it all 100% put together and if that’s the image they're selling you, you don’t have to buy it! When you accept that other people aren’t perfect it makes it easier to accept your own imperfections and we ALL have them.
Work on your self-esteem: If you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people and tearing yourself down, this is a good indicator that you need to work on building yourself up. Self-esteem is something that takes on-going work throughout your life to keep healthy. If you’re taking so much time to focus on your negative thoughts, it’s time to put the same amount of energy into positive ones. Focus things that make you feel good about yourself and your personal strengths.
Use comparison as motivation: It’s amazing how the way we look at something can impact how we take it in. For example, instead of looking at someone else’s success as your failure, ask yourself, what can I learn from this person? We call this productive thinking because it promotes growth. Maybe they have some advice or tips that can help you succeed in your own life.
Compare yourself to yourself: “The only person you should try to be better than is that person you were yesterday.” How do you learn from your mistakes? How have you challenged yourself lately? What fears have you been working on? What progress are you making towards your goals? Self-comparison keeps yourself in check and keeps you on a path towards self-growth.
Theodore Roosevelt said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” It certainly can be and when you become accustomed to comparing yourself to others over and over the pattern can be hard to break. Just like any habit you want to break, it takes dedication, hard work and internal motivation to bring about a change. Don’t let those obstacles get in the way of you becoming a better person, after all obstacles provide us opportunities to grow. Comparison can be like a dead end but just think of all the ways you can go when you turn around!