Have people always compared themselves to others? I suppose they must have, but it also feels like a problem that is growing in our generation.
I suppose social media and the internet in general doesn’t help. Every time we go online we’re bombarded with impossible lifestyle ideals – and not even just by magazines and beauty ads. Our peers, influencers and friends are posting stunning snippets of their lives.
I would like to think we’re all fully aware by now that social media is, for the most part, a highlight reel. Still, it isn’t just here we compare ourselves to others. It’s in real life. It’s at work, at home, in our heads.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
We’ve all seen this quote – we pin it on Pinterest, look at it and nod, but how often do we actually… stop comparing?
How to climb out of the comparison trap
I used to compare myself a lot to others, and I still struggle with certain aspects of comparison, but I thought I would put down a few ideas that have helped me in the past and may help you ‘do you’ and stop worrying what other people are doing.
Comparing yourself… physically
I mean, come on, who hasn’t done this? Looked at a model, friend, stranger on the Internet and thought ‘my legs/arms/face/stomach/hands/hair/eyebrows don’t look like that – what’s wrong with me?’ I’ll tell you what’s wrong.
You’ve been raised in a world that hurls unrealistic beauty ideals at you. This isn’t your fault.
We are all beautifully different and therefore look beautifully different. Next time you find yourself wanting to compare yourself, try to recognise the thought leading you there and turn it into something else. Turn it into a celebration of how you are different, what makes you you. Turn it into an opportunity to show yourself some love.
We can still appreciate and celebrate other people’s beauty, just don’t worry about looking the same as them. You’re perfect, exactly as you are in this very moment.
Comparing yourself… at work
Is there someone at work who always seems to beat you to the punch? Someone who says what you were thinking in a meeting but didn’t have the confidence to say? Someone who seems to impress management with everything they do?
It’s easy to get competitive at work and compare yourself to your colleagues. If you find yourself in this situation try a different approach.
Write down the qualities you admire in your colleague. Think about how you can nurture these qualities in yourself, in your own way.
Instead of competing, why not learn from them? Grab a coffee with them and admit you admire them. And remember, there’s almost definitely someone at work who feels the same way about you.
Comparing yourself… creatively
This is the one I got stuck on recently. I talked about it briefly in my Bloom and Grow post – basically when doing an Instagram e-course I found myself in awe of everyone’s creativity and briefly tried to change my style to look more like theirs.
Thankfully, before I posted the different style of edited picture, I realised I liked my usual style and stuck with it. Here are the two pictures for comparison (ha, yes, you are allowed to compare here) the one on the left is the style some people on Instagram favour (cooler, moodier tones), the one on the right is my style.
I stayed true to my style and it ended up being one of my most popular posts.
If you find yourself comparing yourself in something creative, remind yourself why you love the creative activity in question. For most of us, it’s a way to express ourselves. So, why would we want to express someone else?
At the end of the day, authentic work will always shine above work trying to be something it’s not.
Comparing yourself… to your peers
Another one I used to struggle with big time. It’s my own fault really, I surrounded myself with a group of brilliant, talented people, it was bound to happen (love you guys ;)). We all do it, especially if we feel we’re ‘behind’. We look at where our friends are in life and wonder why we’re not there yet.
Something I’ve learnt over the years is that pretty much everyone feels like they’re not ‘there’ yet. I’ve stopped thinking about ‘there’ and started thinking about ‘here’.
We’re all on different paths. Focus on your present, be hopeful about the future and celebrate your friend’s accomplishments. No one’s life is perfect, and the more we realise this and let go of what life ‘should’ look like, the better.
Comparing yourself… to strangers on the internet
Ahh, good old internet strangers. People we follow online who we’ve never met but compare ourselves to. “They’re 10 years younger than me and own their own home, what the fuck?” is one I may have muttered from time to time…
As I mentioned at the beginning of this (now quite long) post, social media is so often a highlight reel, it’s important for us to take everything with a pinch of salt. We don’t know what these strangers struggle with day to day. We don’t know what keeps them up at night, what they wish was different about their lives.
In this instance, my tactic is to lift others up. If you admire or enjoy what someone does online, instead of comparing yourself, shout about their achievements. Share the love and embrace community over competition (oh and don’t forget to use the hashtag, #communityovercompetition, God I’m so social).
Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? How do you cope? I know the tips above aren’t magic, they won’t stop you from comparing yourself, but I at least hope they give you some food for thought.
I hope they make you stop next time you go to compare yourself and think about why you’re doing it and I hope that, perhaps, they offer you an alternative.