One major source of unhappiness and low self esteem is the common habit that so many of us have, comparing ourselves to others. Constant comparison is not healthy and comparing yourself to others can harm your self esteem.
As I have suffered from this, and low self esteem that often goes with it, I decided to write this page with what I’ve learned from the experience and from the research. So if you would like to know how to stop comparing yourself to others, you need to read on.
Learning how to stop comparing yourself involves improvement of your self esteem and confidence and understanding of your own unique value. Measuring yourself against others can make you over-anxious and can lead to discouragement.
I remember walking around in my teens and twenties constantly focused on how I compared to others. This made me fear failure and rejection, and my self esteem tumbled. I have with time and effort managed to overcome this to the point where I truly value myself as an individual with clear values. My level of self confidence now is so much higher and I do not fear challenges the way I used to. You can follow this path too, let me show you how.
One major problem in our society is the focus on competitiveness which can often lead to the tendency to compare yourself with others. Many of us seem to do this automatically without giving it a thought. Let’s talk about what effect this has on your self esteem.
Why comparing yourself to others is a bad idea
So many people get into the habit of comparing themselves with others. Whether it is what you have or what you don’t have, there is no end to comparing when you start. It’s a trap because you can never be better than everybody else in everything. You can always find someone who is more beautiful, someone who is slimmer, someone who dresses more fashionably or someone who talks more confidently. You are better at some things and worse in others, but that should not affect you negatively, it’s just how it is.
We use all sorts of misguided standards to compare ourselves with others, who we imagine are much more successful than us or in our personal lives. Often you may assume that someone else is happy with their lot but you could be completely wrong. It’s even possible for you to feel someone else is better than you, while they, in reality, may envy you or your qualities!
When you’re always comparing yourself to other people what you’re really saying is “I want to be more like them” when what you should be doing is valuing more who and what you are. This can cause you to miss one of the best opportunities to find happiness in life, which is living an authentic and honest life. If you constantly compare yourself to others you are using standards that are not your own and applying them to yourself. Big mistake! To live an authentic life true to who you require you to develop and apply your own values and to live according to these.
Comparing yourself to others can definitely damage your level of self-esteem. It can cause self-doubt and even jealousy as you may believe others have a better personality, better looks, or are more successful than you. Low self-esteem can cause negative thoughts which revolve around how you need to be fixed in certain ways. This can also impact negatively your mental health.
In a recent article, I wrote we discussed self-acceptance. One of the most important things that you need to do if you want to improve your level of self-esteem is to increase your self-acceptance. If you can accept yourself more for what you really are then you can live in a way that is much more honest and as a result, you’ll soon feel better inside. Your level of self-esteem will increase as you stop trying to copy others
These days one of the biggest problems with comparisons we make of ourselves and others can be Social Media. According to Lee (2020), there is evidence that shows Social Media use involves social comparison and can cause negative feelings and lower self-esteem. Lee also claims there is much evidence that connects the use of Instagram and Facebook, for example, with negative impacts on both self esteem and mental well-being.
There are a number of studies that looked at how people compare themselves and the effect is has on their health (see this article in the NewsRx Health and Science journal).
When you compare yourself to others you are actually allowing others to control your thinking and your actions.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
We have all heard the adage that comparison is the thief of joy, and we know that we are our happiest when we are focusing on our personal journeys. Even though we know better, it is easier said than done to get off of the comparison carousel. In a society obsessed with social media, where both photos and videos can be easily photoshopped, it is hard to distinguish what is real and what has been edited. No wonder we are so obsessed with comparing ourselves with others. Below we will talk about some ways to work on how to stop comparing yourself to others and how it can be hugely beneficial to your life and to your self-esteem.
3 Tips for Avoiding the Comparison Trap
In a synthesis of more than 30 studies that focused on the relationship between social comparisons and health, researchers at Syracuse University and the University of Iowa found that downward comparisons we make can lead to sadness or worry. Upward comparisons can lead to feelings of sadness and depression. Luckily, there are a few tips for stopping comparison in its tracks when it creeps up. The three below are a great way to get started.
#1 – Remember that social media is a highlight reel
It can be easy to scroll through your Instagram feed and feel like everyone is on vacation, taking beautiful family photos, or out at extraordinary events. The truth is that social media is where people post their prettiest and glitziest. When you feel like comparing that you are on the couch watching Netflix in your sweats, remember that the vacation you see may have been years of savings, those family photos contain several outtakes and maybe some fighting, and that the smiles out at that event may be hiding issues you cannot see. Social media is rarely where bad photos and videos are posted. So keep eating that popcorn on the couch and remember in the future vacations, family photos, and events can all be part of your highlight reel too. Fill your social media feeds with inspiring and motivating individuals and groups, those that lift you up and not tear you down. Feel free to clean out all the trash that makes you feel less than.
#2 – Avoid the activities or circumstances that are triggering
There are many physical and emotional signs of triggers. They can include many common emotions that include rejection, insecurity, and feeling unneeded, among others. If certain situations make you feel your individual trigger emotions, then they are something you should avoid. For example, if scrolling Instagram profiles of fitness personalities make you feel insecure about your body, unfollow those profiles. They are doing you no good. Similarly, if you find yourself feeling lonely after a breakup and going through boxes of exes things, throw those things out. Rehashing old memories can trigger you and prevent you from moving forward in life. These may seem silly, but we all have triggers. For some of its social media, for others, it may be driving through specific neighborhoods feeling like those people have the perfect house, car, and life. Triggers that compare you to others or even yourself to a past you once lived are not beneficial and don’t help you attain anything positive.
#3 – Use healthy comparison as a motivation
If used the right way, then comparison can be the very thing to kick you into gear to make some positive changes in your life. If this sounds a bit confusing, that is understandable. Here is an example of how you can make this work. If there is someone you admire, not because of their looks or the money they have, but because of an attribute that you find desirable, you can look at them as an example. This does not mean you should compare your life with yours. Say you follow an individual via social media or podcasts. If they have built a business or lifestyle that you find amazing, let their experience help you push yourself to start that business, try something new, or take the leap that may make a massive difference in your life. Instead of comparing and thinking about how you will never have what they have, look at them and remember that progress and change is always possible.
Here are just a few ways that you can stop comparing yourself to others:
Try to focus more on what is important to you rather than ask yourself what others think.
Focus on what you are doing and don’t allow yourself to use others’ standards or values to judge how well you are doing compared to others. It is so important to understand that others’ success and accomplishments should not be a stick for you to se to measure your own. Your potential and your limits are totally unique!
Continuing from the above, accept you are different from everybody else, and take that as a huge positive. Self acceptance of our strengths should boost your self esteem and confidence, but what do you do about your weaknesses? Yes, accept them but be realistic. There should be no negative here, use it as a method to improve. There is a world of difference in aspiring to be better or to be as successful as someone else is, but you should never let your weaknesses be negative. Determine which weaknesses you can strengthen and which you can just accept and move on.
Watch this inspiring video and stay with it! After about 3 minutes it gets really meaningful. I’m sure you’ll get a huge benefit from putting this into action in your life.
Get to know yourself better and increase self care and self respect for who you are and what you are capable of becoming. This is the path to higher confidence and a life worth living. As you get to know better who you really are, you will appreciate the gifts you have which are unique to you. You’ll also realize that there is a lot in you that others can like and admire. This leads to an understanding that you deserve your own respect.
Tell yourself that you can do just as well as anybody else – it doesn’t matter how you look, what you think, or what you have done before – what matters is the end result and the fact that you believe in yourself.
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Try this amazing self hypnosis download – Stop comparing yourself now! Another highly successful and popular download from Uncommon Knowledge, the self hypnosis experts who I have worked closely with over the last 20 years! Try it today for yourself, you have nothing to lose.
If you are having a hard time with how to stop comparing yourself to others, you are not alone. We live in a day and age where it is almost impossible not to find ourselves seeing everyone seemingly living a bigger and better life than that of our own. It is important to remember the three tips above on your journey of stopping comparison to others. By recognizing and avoiding your triggers, remembering that social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s lives, and using healthy comparison to motivate yourself to accomplish your goals, you can stop looking at others’ lives and think less about how they have what you don’t. You can focus more on working on becoming the best and brightest version of yourself in the future.
- NewsRx Health & Science. (2012). Comparing yourself to others can have health impacts. NewsRx Health & Science, 54. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A283404914/AONE
- Friedman, R. (2015). Psychological barriers to trial: don’t let your fear of losing paralyze you–be courageous and stop comparing yourself to others. Trial, 51(6), 23. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A418845825/AONE?u=anglia_itw&sid=AONE&xid=cfd8b533
- Lee J. K. (2020). The effects of social comparison orientation on psychological well-being in social networking sites: Serial mediation of perceived social support and self-esteem. Current psychology (New Brunswick, N.J.), 1–13. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-01114-3
- Messer, A. (2012, February 7). Comparing yourself to others can have health impacts. Penn State News. https://news.psu.edu/story/151929/2012/02/07/comparing-yourself-others-can-have-health-impacts
- Perina, K. (2018, March 5). How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prescriptions-life/201803/how-stop-comparing-yourself-others
- Raypole, C. (2020, November 13). How to Identify and Manage Your Emotional Triggers. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-triggers