In an earlier post, I talked at length about the importance of reducing your expectation gap.
One of the main factors contributing towards your disappointment is comparing yourself to others.
“I wish I was as skinny as her”
“Imagine if I could do that as a living!?”
“Why can’t I have a house a big as him?”
The consistent message of ‘I’m not good enough’.
The activity of comparing one’s self with others is a major trigger for a plummet in self esteem, a shame reaction. Shame fills the gap between what- ideally- we would like to be, do and have, and what we see ourselves as actually being, doing, and having. The bigger the gap, the greater the pain. – Jane Bolton, Psy.D., M.F.T., C.C
In this post, we look at 5 strategies to help you focus on you, not others.
1. Get over-the-top passionate about something
When you’re feeling vulnerable, down or depressed, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to those around you who are “successful”. This only amplifies your negative emotions.
One way to overcome this is to get over-the-top passionate about something. When you’re passionate about something, you get lost in the activity and forget about what other people are doing.
Think back to a time when you were fully engaged in what you’re doing. Maybe it was when you were playing sport, or building something around the house. Were you thinking about what other people were doing during this time? Probably not.
I know for me, working on The Minimalist Vegan is extremely engaging, as I’m always thinking about what I can do to help further spread our message. My brain rarely has time to pause and think about what other people are doing. Although admittedly, sometimes I get caught comparing our site to other blogs. But this rarely happens.
Also, doing something you’re over-the-top passionate about, will likely improve your confidence.
The process of working on your passion requires hundreds of small steps and mini-goals. And the process will naturally shine the light on your self-esteem issues. – Barrie Davenport
So that’s the challenge. Take on a project, hobby or activity that you’re hyped about. This will pull you out of your slump and draw your attention away from others, as you will be fully engaged in what you’re doing.
2. Quit social media
Not comparing yourself to others in person is hard enough as it is. Now you throw in sites like Facebook and Instagram where all we do is compare ourselves to our peers.
Bikini bodies, 6 pack abs, green smoothies, glowing skin, happiness, nice clothes, delicious food, amazing holidays. We’re constantly bombarded with everyones best self online. We rarely see the struggle and the grind behind the scenes.
Social media is meant to be a connection tool, and it is, if used correctly. But until you have mastered your self-control, I highly recommend you take a social media detox. Hand in your leave of absence and focus on things that you’re passionate about instead. When you get your swag back, feel free to reinstate your accounts. However by then, you may realise that life is just fine without social media.
3. Remember that everyone is self-conscious
“Picture everyone naked.”
This is common advice to reduce nerves when preparing a speech. The same method can be used reducing your comparison habits. When I feel myself starting to compare myself to others, I remember that they poop too. They have quirky imperfections that they feel vulnerable about.
We’re only human. We’re not created in labs and we’re definitely not by any means perfect.
So next time you think someone has a perfect life, remember that we all have our own demons that we need to overcome.
4. List your super strengths and apply them
This is an old exercise but it’s still effective today. Grab a pen and some paper and literally write down all of your strengths. It helps to do this with a close friend or family member as it can be hard to step outside of your body and evaluate your skills.
Don’t hold back in this exercise. Are you a great communicator? Can you read personalities? Are you naturally athletic? Good leadership? Funny? Intelligent? Generous?
Figure out your super strengths, and reorganise your life so that you can maximise your natural talents. When you maximise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses, you’ll build your confidence and compare yourself to others less and less.
5. Run your own race
I’m insanely competitive by nature. I was brought up to believe that competing against others was a form of self-development. And to some extent it is.
But at some point trying to compete against other people starts to backfire. A friendly game of monopoly can develop into a big competition of life. Who has a better, husband, wife, car, body, child, kitchen, job? You might not believe that you think this way, but watch your subconscious, as it can do some weird things if you’re caught comparing yourself to others.
Instead of competing on who’s got a better life. Focus on competing with yourself instead, and run your own race.
Instead of obsessing over the progress of others, focus on how you can challenge yourself to be a little better every day. Maybe that’s sticking to a habit, or being a better wife or husband. Or maybe it’s finding a way to create more quiet time.
Whatever it is, find out what makes your happy, and do more of that. The problem with comparison is that you focus on things you can’t control. You can’t control the way somebody lives their lives. But you can control, what you put into your body, how you spend money, how you build relationships, and what makes you happy. Find the competition in the video game of your consciousness. In this game, the bad guy is procrastination, jealousy, lack of clarity, depression. Challenge yourself to compete against these bad guys and beat them. This is the real competition, and the only one you should be focused on.
If you do that, everything with take care of itself.
So there are my top 5 tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others. Here’s a quick summary:
- Get over-the-top passionate about something
- Quit social media
- Remember that everyone is self-conscious
- List your super strengths and apply them
- Run your own race
Do you have any other strategies to reduce how much you compare yourself to others? If so, leave your best tip in the comments below.