Blog Short #79: 10 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday, I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you. My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!
Photo by francescoch, Courtesy of iStock Photo
I subscribe to one of my favorite business/writing mentors whose courses I regularly take. I got an email from her this morning, but unlike her usual emails, it was more personal.
She had recently attended a social event with many friends who are in the same business as her and with whom she’s close. She began comparing her success to some of these friends and got caught in a tailwind of self-doubt. As the evening continued, her thoughts became more distorted – she decided her work was in decline and concluded that she didn’t have anything new or exciting to offer, as did her friends.
In short, she plummeted into the deep hole of comparison and couldn’t get out.
I was surprised, but I wasn’t. Even though this person is incredibly talented and engaging, as well as ridiculously successful, she fell victim to self-doubt.
As she recognized, this type of comparison is deadly.
It’s distorted, destructive, and sly. It sneaks in and winds its way around your mind, squeezing out every semblance of rationality. It pours acid on tiny openings of self-doubt and turns them into gaping craters.
We’re all susceptible.
So how do you handle it?
Here are my top ten strategies I use when I get ensnared by that ugly seductress.
1. Hang up those distorted thoughts.
Self-doubt comparisons are almost always based on distorted and exaggerated thoughts.
You select the most significant accomplishments belonging to someone else and measure them against your most notable failures.
And, to make it worse, you exaggerate both ends of that spectrum and selectively choose the details to make that comparison as wide as possible. There are two problems here:
- You can always find someone who’s further along in their progress in a particular activity than you are.
- You’re narrowing your perspective to create the picture you’re painting.
Comparisons use a hierarchical perspective, meaning we all sit on a vertical ladder of accomplishment. You’re above someone and below someone.
In reality, creativity and achievement are more horizontal. Every person’s approach is different and, I might add, valuable. We’re not all apples.
That gets to the second thing.
2. Appreciate your unique contribution.
No one else is exactly like you, and you’re not exactly like anyone else – nor should you be! Appreciate your lane and make all you can of it. Don’t try to be everything. Just be you.
3. Be your own yardstick.
Make comparisons to yourself. Improve your performance, develop new ideas, try different strategies, and create better habits. Embrace yourself and what you have to offer and refine it.
4. Play to your strengths.
What do you do well? What are some of your natural talents?
These can be anything. You don’t have to restrict yourself to things that result in public affirmations, like being a best-selling author.
Maybe one of your strengths is being kind and making others feel comfortable and accepted. I would wager that strength is as important and perhaps more important than creating a successful corporation.
Use what you have and let others benefit from it.
5. Keep envy in check.
Envy is painful. And it’s useless. It’s good to admire what someone else has or contributes, but envy is competitive. One’s up, and one’s down.
Appreciate someone else’s success. Be inspired by it! But don’t taint that with envy. If someone else can be successful, so can you. However, you won’t do that if you’re trying to be just like the other person.
6. Take a break from social media.
Social media is a petri dish for narcissistic one-upmanship. It feels like being back in high school in a big tank of people who are all vying for popularity or the most elevated position in the crowd.
It’s amazing what happens to adults when they jockey on social media for position. I’m not saying there aren’t positive aspects of social media, but it is a platform for competition, comparison, and misrepresentation. A lot of what people present is exaggerated.
Don’t let yourself get sucked into comparing yourself to anything or anyone you see on social media.
7. Mind your company.
Like hanging out on social media, who you spend time with can increase your competitiveness and envy. If you hang out with people who need to be on top or complain about what other people have that they don’t have, you can find yourself jumping on the bandwagon and mirroring that mindset.
You might have friends who compare themselves with you or who have subtly or not so subtly put you down. They might do this by bragging about their successes, although not so overtly that you recognize the put-down. Or maybe they give you a lot of unsought advice with an undertow of “I know more than you do.”
Good friends make you feel good about yourself and share your successes without envy or competition.
Stick to those friends and let the others go.
8. Focus on progress.
Everyone is equal because we’re all valuable and worthy of love. At the same time, we’re all in different places in our growth. We’re in various stages of development and on our own paths.
When you keep that in mind, it’s easier to focus on your path and measure where you are in terms of your progress. There’s not an endpoint. I suppose death is an endpoint, but maybe not. Until death, you’re developing. Hopefully not de-evolving.
Focus on your progress more than your outcomes, and keep going.
9. Never let what you accomplish mean more than who you are.
Pursue whatever work you like, use your talents, and accomplish all you can, but never at the expense of who you are.
Be the kind of person who sticks to their values and principles. Be the kind of person who’s more concerned about treating people the right way, doing the right thing, and behaving civilly.
Those internal qualities are most important and help you rise above petty comparison and competitiveness. They embrace others rather than separate, isolate, and distance. Make that your priority, and let the rest follow.
10. Be grateful.
The last one on my list is gratitude. You hear this idea a lot and find it in every self-help book, blog, and inspirational speech. That’s because it’s true.
When you’re grateful for what you have, it’s hard to focus on what you don’t have. It will shift you out of that competitive, complaining, woeful mindset. Start your day with gratitude.
We get so inundated with bad news, that focusing on things that are going right is a worthwhile pursuit and helps balance the view.
I write ten things I’m grateful for every morning. I’m always shocked at how it can shift my mood. I can wake up grumpy or moody, and after getting halfway through my list, my mood’s lifted.
I’ve written a more extended version of this blog that you can find here if you’d like to read it. It covers most of the same items with a little more explanation.
That’s all for today!
Have a great week!
All my best,