This week we’re getting into all thing comparison. I talk about why it’s perfectly human of us to compare and then go through different areas in our life where we tend to compare, including physically, at work, creatively and even with our friends.
For each area I share a suggestion on how we can gently remove ourselves from the comparison trap. It’s a process for sure, but I hope the ideas here can get you starting to think a little differently the next time you compare yourself.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here:
LINKS AND FURTHER READING:
- The science of wellbeing course (it’s free, highly recommend!)
- My instagram highlight with uplifting, body positive accounts to follow
- How to build confidence in yourself at work
- Sara Tasker’s Bloom & Grow Instagram course
- It’s OK to go slow
So this week we’re talking all things comparison. I’ll be looking at some of the common areas where we compare ourselves from creatively and in the workplace to physically and even with our friends. I’ll also be sharing some ideas to help you handle comparison when it comes up for you. So, if that’s resonating with you and sounds like something you want to learn more about, then get yourself comfortable and yeah, let’s get on with the show.
Hello everyone! Welcome back to the podcast. I hope you’re all doing well. So yeah, this week we’re talking about comparison because I don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s quite rife at the moment. Potentially because we’re still at home and maybe a lot of us are spending more time on social media than usual? I don’t know, that’s my theory. So I want to talk about certain areas of our lives where comparison can come up and some ways that we can gently move ourselves out of the comparison trap.
And I want to start by emphasizing that comparison is totally and utterly human. In fact, I was doing a course last year all about the science of wellbeing – I’ll link to it in the show notes actually because it’s free and I definitely recommend giving it a go – but in that course I learned about an annoying feature of the mind. And this is the fact that we all see things differently according to reference points. So these reference points can come from ourselves and our own experiences and from other people. And this is called Social Comparison. And I basically learned that our brains are constantly soaking up reference points, including from TV and social media. And the biggest tip that the course gave for overcoming this was to quit social media.
Now, this is not something I’m personally willing to do because I quite like social media. I love it. I enjoy it. And it’s a big part of my work and I don’t think many of us are necessarily willing to quit it altogether. But the course does also say that just reducing the amount of time you spend on social media can help. And I must admit, I do try and keep Saturdays totally social media-free and I find this helps me just get a bit of headspace each week. And then I take longer breaks now and then when I feel I really need it.
But other than that, what can we do to stop comparing?
So here are a few areas that we might be comparing ourselves and a few ways that we might be able to stop.
So let’s look at comparing yourself physically. I think we’ve all done this at some point, right? We’ve looked at a model, a friend, a stranger on the internet, and thought, ‘wow, why don’t my legs/arms/face/stomach/hands/hair/eyebrows look like theirs? What’s wrong with me?’ And here’s the thing, here’s what’s wrong: you’ve been raised in a world that hurls unrealistic beauty ideals at you. And this is not your fault. So the next time you find yourself wanting to compare yourself, try to recognise the thought leading you there and turn it into something else.
So for me, when I’m comparing my body to someone else, I know it’s not actually about my body. I know it’s about something deeper. So try and investigate that thought a little bit and try and turn it into a celebration of how you’re different. What makes you you? Turn it into an opportunity to show yourself a little bit of love.
This is easier said than done, I know, but actively catching the thought, investigating it, and then turning it into something positive does become a habit after a while.
And I’d also recommend really tuning into who you’ve followed on social media for this, if you’re finding you’re comparing yourself on social media. Try and follow some really uplifting accounts that really shine a light on being different is okay and being different is great. And yeah, again, I’ll pop in a link in the show notes with some great ideas for this.
Okay, let’s move onto the next section, which is comparing yourself at work. So it’s really easy to get competitive at work and compare yourself to colleagues or others in your industry. And if you’re finding yourself in this situation I would recommend trying this: write down the qualities you admire in the person that you’re comparing yourself to. Think about how you can nurture these qualities in yourself, in your own way.
So often when we compare, it’s because the other person has got something that we want or they’re doing something that we want to do. So try and use comparison here as a bit of a compass to help guide you to what you want. And instead of competing, why not try and learn from them? Admit to them that you admire them, and see if you can connect somehow.
If that doesn’t feel helpful right now, then just try and stay out of their way. If it’s someone you’re following online, again, hit the mute or unfollow button and remember that there’s almost definitely someone else out there who’s feeling the same way about you right now.
Okay, let’s look at comparing yourself creatively. So this is the one I really got stuck on when I took part in Sara Tasker’s Bloom and Grow course. I found myself in awe of everyone’s creativity and I briefly tried to change my photography and editing style to look more like theirs. And thankfully, before I did go ahead and post a different style of picture, I took a second. I stopped, I paused, and I realised that I actually really like my usual style. And I decided to stick with it. I stayed true to what I normally do, and the picture in question actually ended up being one of my most popular posts.
So if you find yourself comparing yourself in the creative world, remind yourself of 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 that’s trying to be something it’s not, so try and remember that and keep that in mind in the future.
Let’s look at comparing yourself to friends. Another one that I used to struggle with quite a lot and it’s totally my own fault because I went ahead and just surrounded myself with a group of brilliant and talented amazing friends. It was bound to happen! Love you guys if you’re listening. So yeah, we all do it and I think especially if we’re feeling a little bit behind, we might look at where our friends are in life and wonder why we’re not there yet. And this is something I talk more about in episode 20, it’s okay to go slow, so do check out that episode if this is resonating with you.
But in a nutshell, I’ve learned over the years that it’s pretty much everyone else who also feels like they’re not there yet. And I’ve stopped thinking about ‘there’ and started thinking about here. We’re all on different paths, so focus on your present, be hopeful about the future, and celebrate your friends’ accomplishments along the way. No one’s life is perfect and the most you realise this and let go of what life ‘should’ look like, the better.
So, we’re onto the last section now, which is comparing yourself to strangers on the internet. Ah, the good old internet strangers. The people we follow online who we’ve never met but compare ourselves to.
So here we have to remind ourselves that social media is a highlight reel. And I know this has been said before hundreds of times – you’re probably sick of hearing it, but it’s something we have to keep reminding ourselves of. It’s really important for us to take everything with a pinch of salt because we don’t know what these strangers are struggling with day-to-day. We don’t know what’s keeping them up at night and what they wish was different about their own lives.
In this instance, my tactic is to try and lift other people up. If you admire or enjoy what somebody does online, instead of comparing yourselves, try and shout about their achievements. Share the love, embrace #communityovercompetition, or again, if that doesn’t sit right, and it’s perfectly okay if it doesn’t, hit the unfollow button. Life’s too short to feel bad about ourselves online.
So there we go! I know the tips I’ve shared here aren’t magic and they’re not going to suddenly stop yourself from comparing yourself, but I hope at least they’ve given you some kind of idea of how to handle comparison when it does come up for you. And if you think your sense of self-worth might be at the root of your comparison issues and you’re looking for some support in this area, I’d definitely encourage you to take a look at my new coaching packages. They’re really designed to help you with self-worth, self-belief, and confidence, depending on what stage you’re at. And you can find out more about those at bluejayofhappiness.com. Just click on the coaching page and all the information will be there.
So that’s all I have for this week. I’ll be back next week with an episode all about knowing your worth and the impact this has on your relationships. But until then, I hope you’re all staying safe and yeah, take care.