“Comparison is the death of joy.”
“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.”
Wise words from wise people, these are.
Comparing yourself to others, thinking they are better off somehow, berating yourself for not ‘measuring up’, so you think, robs you of happiness and serves you in no useful way.
It is such an unproductive thing to do. So why do we do it? I think it is because we are taught to do it from the earliest stages of life.
Our parents and teachers were taught by their parents and teachers that the only way to know if you’re moving in the right direction is to….
- Compare what you’re doing to what someone else is doing.
- Compare what you’ve got to what someone else has got.
- Compare how you look to how someone else looks.
Thus the curse of constant self-comparison is passed down from one generation to the next.
But when you catch yourself comparing yourself to others, don’t make matters worse by beating yourself up about it, just be mindful of it. Remember that this is a socially reinforced habit that we all have to deal with.
“To love is to stop comparing.”
“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.”
Marquis de Condorcet
7 Ways to Stop Defeating Yourself with Comparison
So what I hope to do now is to share with you some things that wise and caring people have shared with me in dissolving this act of self destruction.
1. Use Social Media Mindfully
Probably the number one factor in this day and age that drives self-comparison is social media.
You log on to Facebook, see all the all the ‘fantastic’ lives that everyone else is living, and then you feel bad that your life isn’t going near as well as theirs is.
Just remember that your friends are just sharing the things they are proud of, that make them feel better. Meanwhile, they still have life challenges just like you do.
Some people are going to intentionally embellish their lives because that’s the only thing that they can think of to boost their self esteem. Wish them well and understand it for what it is.
Use social media for distinct and positive purposes: to keep up with people you care about, to invite someone to a party, or perhaps to tactfully promote your business.
When you find yourself just killing time on social media and realizing it’s making you feel envious of others, it’s time to log out and move on.
2. Play the Lead Role in Your Movie
What is the core theme of many a good movie? It’s the story of the reject, the loner, the ugly duckling overcoming all their disadvantages and shortcomings to win the day and live happily ever after.
It’s a universal motif. Even the starting quarterback and the cheerleader captain on some level feel like they’re on the outside looking in. Despite all your inner turmoil, somebody is looking at you thinking you’re the one that has it all together.
As you write the script of your life, make sure you’re writing yourself as the lead character. All the other characters, even the villains and the so-called perfect ones, are there to support your story.
Don’t you love watching how the outcast triumphs in the end? That’s you; you’re the star. Don’t give away your lead role. Now sit back and enjoy the ride.
3. Be Conscious of Your Thoughts
Sometimes we don’t even realize what we’re doing when we compare ourselves to others. One of the best practices I have learned on my spiritual journey is to make it a habit of always being aware of my thoughts.
When you recognize a thought that does not serve you well, it’s time to change it.
Just try it for a few days: question your thoughts. Ask yourself, ‘Why am I thinking this thought? How does it really make me feel? What good reason do I have to judge myself against someone else?
Answer: ‘I can’t think of a good reason so I might as well be kind to myself instead of harsh on myself.’
4. Practice Gratitude
When you consciously become aware that you’ve slipped into comparison mode and realize it’s time to change your thought, one of the best thoughts to change to is something you’re thankful for.
So let’s say you find yourself a little jealous of someone else’s good fortune, just say to yourself “oops, no time for that, what can I be thankful for today, let’s see….”
Just like one negative thought leads to another negative thought, one positive thought leads to another positive thought.
One of the best ways to make gratitude come more naturally throughout the day is to have a gratitude journal. Those who practice gratitude on purpose will tell you that doing so brings more things into their lives to be thankful for.
It may sound a little like magic but just try it for awhile and see how well it works.
RELATED: Create Your Gratitude Master List
5. Love Everyone, Especially Yourself
“Love is the Answer. What was the Question?”
Some of the greatest minds to ever grace the face of the Earth – Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein – all said over and over, in one way or another, love is the answer whatever the problem or question may be.
These were not weak, wishy-washy people. These were kind, loving but very powerful people who effected more lasting positive change than any President or Prime Minister ever has. They loved all humanity and they loved themselves.
So why do the rest of us struggle with it so much!? Oh yeah, because somewhere along the way we all decided to teach each other to compare ourselves against each other.
Love yourself for who you are, where you are, with what you’ve got right now and extend that love to everyone for who they are, wherever they are, with whatever they’ve got. When you love others, you love yourself and vice versa.
Volumes could be written about this. Just play and experiment with the concept of love. Expand your capacity to love and most importantly, begin with yourself.
6. Focus on Personal Growth
As we mention love, one of the best ways to love yourself is to constantly look for ways to expand your mind, lift your spirit, and enlighten yourself. A conscious effort toward self-cultivation crowds out the ego’s need to beat you up for ill-perceived shortcomings.
The more time you spend on your journey, the less time you will waste on someone else’s journey. The people who really get what they want out of life are constantly refueling with positive energy, inspiration, and motivation.
If you’re looking for a place to start, check out our resources page.
7. Get Out and Play
Self comparison is a dark, heavy emotional state. Getting stuck there not only has a negative impact on your mind but your body as well.
Every chance you get, go outside and let the sun, the trees, the wind, the surf, the sand remind you of what an infinite and UNIQUE being you are.
You did not come here to be someone else, you came here to be YOU! No one will remind you of that quicker than our beautiful Mother Nature. Get out and play!