Build your own success with our guide on how to stop comparing yourself to others. Learn when and how to do healthy comparisons. Spot the triggers to avoid negative comparisons!
ENGLISH DISCLOSURE: I’m from Switzerland (yes, chocolate!) so English isn’t my first language. Please forgive me for my mistakes 🙂
✓ Should I read this? Most of us occasionally compare ourselves to others. If comparing yourself to your friends, work colleagues, Social Media contacts, and other people bring on negative emotions, then you should read this.
✓ How is it going to help me? While we know feelings of envy and jealousy are not healthy for our self-worth, most people are not equipped to handle those feelings. This post is a practical guide on identifying triggers and managing emotions that come with comparing yourself with others. Learn what to do instead of comparing yourself to others.
The ultimate guide to finally stop comparing yourself to others
When you may compare and 10 things you can do instead of comparing yourself to others
Here is a fact of life.
No matter how good looking, successful, well-organized, intelligent, or popular you are, there will always be someone who seems better than you.
On the other hand, there are times you may compare and feel you are better than others.
Often, you may seem frustrated as other people tick off important life milestones.
Your best friend is marrying the partner of their dreams, your neighbor’s landscaping has resulted in a breathtaking garden, your colleague has found a much better job, or your sibling is making more money than you ever dreamed of.
You may find yourself asking, why not me?
It’s an understandable reaction and totally natural. However, comparing yourself to others can have some negative ramifications on your life.
First. Let’s look at why people compare themselves to others.
Why People Compare
Let’s be clear.
Comparing yourself to others isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Feelings of envy can activate your drive. Seeing other’s achievements can motivate you to do just as well or better.
Let’s look at some positive reasons why people compare themselves with others.
When It’s Okay To Compare
It’s unhealthy to keep comparing yourself to others.
In the few circumstances when comparison may be beneficial, you have to do it purposefully.
There are two rules I advise you stick to if you want to compare positively.
Rule 1: Have an idea of what you’re looking for and focus on that.
Rule 2: Don’t dwell on the negatives.
There are rare times when it’s okay to compare yourself with others. You should absolutely compare if comparison helps you do the following:
Find Positive Motivation
There is one special rule I live by when it comes to comparison. Only want what others have if it is something of deep worth. I drive myself not to be envious of material wealth, popularity, or power. The things I tend to covet, which others have, are personal characteristics, such as:
Sometimes we yearn personal or professional growth yet don’t know how to go about it.
By comparing what others have done or are doing, you can work out a plan for your growth. For instance, when starting out in your career, you may have people you look up to.
Maybe it’s an industry leader, a public figure, or a mentor.
By looking at how they got to where they are, you stand a better chance of getting the same results by following similar tried and tested paths.
See New Life Perspectives
I was once at a conference attended by people from all over the world. Interacting with others, I was amazed by the many different ways people were achieving their goals.
If you insist on doing the same things the same way over and over again, you may miss out on many opportunities. Comparing what you’re doing with what others are doing can provide new perspectives to enrich your life and make your work more fulfilling.
Improve Your Systems To Achieve More
Is the way you do your work the best way to do it? Are other people spending less to achieve the same results?
Comparing with others can open your eyes to many new tools, resources, opportunities, and possibilities.
Comparing can lead to innovative ideas. By comparing, you can improve on your weaknesses while bolstering your strengths. Comparisons can improve how you get things done.
Boost Your Work Ethic
Comparing yourself to others can improve when and where you get things done.
Seeing other people’s results can improve how you work and your choices on who you work with.
For example, is working at certain hours of the day more productive than what you’re doing at the moment? Do you need more meetings with your staff and clients or less?
Get A Creative Edge
Comparing yourself with others can improve your creativity. Are others using better techniques? Are there new ideas you have been overlooking? Is there a way to improve your results?
Relate Better With Others
Comparing yourself works if it leads to you form better relationships. By knowing others better, you develop empathy towards them. For instance, when I talk to other personal development coaches, I get a feel of their struggles.
I get to share in their joys and triumphs. I experience their pains and failures. These shared emotions help me be a better coach and a good friend.
Revise Your Vision On How You Can Serve Others
If you are in the business of serving others, you know everyone has unique needs. How you serve one person, one community or one demographic may require a different approach to how you serve a different person or group.
Comparing my service to others allows me to revise my goals and my methods. For instance, I constantly consider new ways to get my message out. Are newsletters reaching all my target audience or will social media work better?
Why You Should Stop Comparing
Do you ever find yourself obsessing over why you seem to be lagging behind your peers? Is your self-worth determined by how you view others’ achievements? Then your way of comparing yourself to others is probably unhealthy.
Comparing yourself to others is the fastest way of knocking down your self-esteem.
Negative comparisons tend to feed your innermost fears. You see what others are doing at work, in your social circles, on social media, and on TV and you feel worthless.
Suddenly, your work isn’t good enough, your life isn’t glamorous enough, or you don’t have the best friends.
Makes You Lethargic
When you compare yourself to others you may get overwhelmed. If you view others as better than you, you may feel your efforts are not worth much. You stop trying. You become lazy and lethargic.
When you think you’re better than others, you also run the risk of becoming complacent. You see no need to improve.
You become comfortable viewing yourself as ahead of the pack. You stop being innovative, energetic, or passionate about what you do.
Shows Result, Not Effort
When you compare yourself to others, what you’re looking at is the result.
You won’t see the effort. You may not be aware of the struggles, the hardships, and the sacrifices that a person made.
Ignores Your Uniqueness
One of the biggest problems of comparing to others is you forget you are unique. Negative comparisons strip you of your strengths, talents, and skills and reduce you to a generic being.
Comparison robs you of what makes you special and unique.
When you’re comparing yourself to others, you are wasting precious time. You are fawning over what others have whilst forgetting to work on what can be yours. Forget about the achievements of others.
Work on your goals, ambitions, and improvements.
Kills The Joy of Triumph
Whatever good you do, there is probably someone who does it better. If you dwell on negative comparisons you rob yourself of the joys of your own triumphs. Whatever you’re working on, focus on your own goals.
For example, if you’re working on reducing your waistline, a 2-inch reduction within a month may be a reason to celebrate. Yet, if you focus on your friend’s 4-inch waist reduction, then envy may replace your sense of triumph.
You start feeling like a failure when you should be celebrating your achievement.
Focuses On The Wrong Person
When you’re comparing yourself to someone else you are switching your focus from you to them. You are focusing on people and events beyond your control.
However, when you compare your current self with your past self, you gain more control. You now have a better chance of attaining what you envision to be the future you.
What to Do Instead Of Comparing Yourself to Others
There are lots of positive things you can do to stop comparing yourself to others. Some positive attitudes you can embrace include:
1. Compare To Yourself, Not To Others
Instead of measuring your self-worth against what others have achieved, look back at your own progress. Compare where you are right now with where you were yesterday, last week, last month, last year, five years ago, or ten years ago.
Think of your personal goals and focus on achieving them.
2. Avoid Comparison Triggers
Do you often lose yourself scrolling through social media feeds? Are your favorite bloggers and celebrities making you feel unworthy? Are your friends living the dream life that you can’t measure up to on their Instagram and Facebook posts? By simply unfollowing them you can experience a more fulfilling life.
Away from social media, do you find yourself envious of others at the mall? Do you feel pangs of jealousy when you visit affluent homes? Do you feel intimidated when in the company of more accomplished people? If so, then you might need to temporarily break from such company until you get your emotions in check.
3. Use Social Media Purposefully
I write about personal development, wellness, depression, and time management. Over and over in my research, I come across studies that show how detrimental social media can be.
Social media can negatively affect your time management, decrease your wellness, and increase chances of depression if not used properly. Thus, in my case, I tend to be very purposeful about how I use social media. I am very specific about what I choose to look at and who I choose to engage with.
Occasionally, I might come across something that makes me feel envious. These moments are nowadays rare, but sometime back it used to be the norm. I eventually decided to unfriend people who brag about their wealth, vacations, cars, and expensive homes or clothes.
I follow a few wellness and fitness coaches while avoiding those who brag about their slim waists, muscle tones, and other fitness achievements. It’s not because I’m jealous, but because I would like to focus more on my achievements than theirs.
4. Put Everything in Proper Perspective
When you compare yourself with others, you are most likely comparing what you feel inside to what they show outside.
For instance, looking at your friend’s new car and their big house may make you envious.
What you’re not seeing is the amount of debt your friend is collapsing under. You don’t see the unhealthy work habits your friend endures to afford these expenses. You are blind to the poor social life your friend lives through.
If you have to do a comparison between you and others, do a wholesome, holistic comparison. Are there areas of your life that you’re grateful for? Is having a family better for you than living the single life of your friends?
Is your focus on academic studies a good choice for you despite the entrepreneurial success of friends who dropped out?
5. Develop Self-Awareness
By developing self-awareness, you gain a sharp cognizance of your personality. You develop a strong measure of your strengths and a positive awareness of your weaknesses. You cultivate better control over your emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and motivations.
Being self-aware makes it easier to handle comparisons without losing your self-worth. Self-awareness is a critical step in creating the life that you want. You are better able to pinpoint where your emotions and passions are, independent of what other people’s passions are.
Self-awareness enables you to match your personality, skills, and talents in achieving goals that are dear to you rather than pursuing what others think is popular or trendy.
6. Practice Gratitude
If there is one thing you can do to completely avoid the negative feelings of comparison, it is to practice gratitude. Gratitude is such a powerful and transformative emotion. The simplest way to practice gratitude every day is to journal what you’re grateful for.
Scientific studies show that people who practice gratitude are more likely to track their progress and to attain their life goals faster. Practicing gratitude has the additional benefits of making you:
- Have a more optimistic view of life
- Feel more strongly connected to others
- Lead a well-rounded life
- Have better sleep quality
- Build stronger bonds and more genuine relationships
7. Accept Yourself
Instead of comparing yourself to others, asses your current position. Don’t focus on some ideal of where you are supposed to be in life. Maybe you started working in the same position at the same time as your work colleague.
A few years later your friend has had 2 promotions while you seem stuck in the same position. You look at his career projection and feel jealous.
Yet this may be an unfair comparison. In those few years maybe you married and had kids while your colleague became an alcoholic. You spent more time building a loving home while your colleague built a professional life.
What you have is probably more precious than what your colleague has achieved.
You can catch up with your colleague if that’s your goal. However, rather than feel envious, accept that you may have to adjust your work-life balance. Accept your situation as it is and only compares it with where you were last month or last year. Not where your colleague was.
8. Practice Intentional Living
Intentional living is about daily making conscious decisions to live according to your deepest values. Every decision you make should align with your ethics, principles, dreams, and goals.
Intentional living acts as a step-by-step success roadmap to where you want to be in the future. People who live intentionally steer their actions with purpose. They don’t just wait for events to happen, they make them happen. By living intentionally, you can limit accidents and mistakes, while maximizing opportunities that align with your goals.
9. Measure Against Principles
Instead of comparing yourself against others, you can measure yourself against your personal principles and goals. For example, you can yourself questions like, “Am I a good person?”, “Do I practice integrity?”, “Am I kind to people and animals?”.
You may also measure yourself against your life ambitions. For instance, ask yourself how far you’ve gone towards achieving a particular goal. Have you increased your knowledge? Have you improved your skills? Have you made the right contacts and partnerships? Have you achieved any milestones toward that goal?
10. Find Your True Path
When you compare to other people’s successes, you tend to copy their actions. You want to follow in their footsteps. Often, it is difficult to replicate someone else’s results because we all respond differently to our environment. For example, you want to build muscle, so you do the exact same exercises as your very fit friend. Yet, your results are less appealing that your friend’s gains.
You can achieve far more success by finding your own true path. Do what excites you and what you’re passionate about. Do something to make a difference in your community. Do what you have a natural tendency and matching abilities to succeed in.
Maybe you’re not the next muscle model, but your passion leads you to be the next race car champion, or super programmer, or the most influential financial analyst. Use your talents to touch people’s lives and make a difference.
Comparing yourself to others, I was there too!
I can really talk about this because until recently, I was comparing myself A LOT to others. It could be about me, my skills, the way I’m talking or my life in general.
I kind of felt that the life you’re supposed to live is finishing studying at the university, getting a good job, work hard, meet someone, fall in love, get married and have kids.
This was to me, the supposed to be “perfect life”. But perfect in the eyes of whom?!
To me, the thing that helped me the most was to think about the day that I’ll die. Looking back at my life… How much would I care about what people think?! Half of them would be dead already! Sorry for saying that, but that’s true…
It really put things back into perspective.
We hear a lot of people saying “you only live once” etc., but it never really made sense to me, I was taking myself very seriously! 🙂
I’m not saying that it took a few days to feel better about all of this and sometimes I still struggle…
But I’ve decided to create a list of what we REALLY want to hear when we are comparing ourselves to others.
This is what you are hearing…
If you start talking with people about the fact that you are comparing with others, most chances are that people will tell you:
- “Do not compare yourself to others!”
- “Stop comparing yourself!”
- “Never compare yourself to others!”
But let’s face it… It’s not really helping you! It’s a bit like trying to bring a solution to a problem without treating the cause of it.
Because it’s not like you’re going to tell yourself “yeah! She’s right! I won’t do it anymore!” If you are lucky and strong enough, for a few hours you’ll be able to but then… You’re just going back to feel the same as before 🙂
This is why I’m never too much of an-advice-person. I think that advice is helping only the person who is giving them…!
So, even if they are trying to really help us, people that are telling us that kind of things aren’t actually helping us that much…
You want a forever solution, so start repeating yourself these sentences and let me know in a bit what effects they had on you 🙂
And again, I think that we first need to accept that we compared ourselves to others. It’s already a good first step, then, we can work on look at things differently and we will do it less and less…
The 10 things you actually truly want to hear…
✓ “The day that you will die, you won’t care about who did what in their life, it won’t matter to you.”
That’s definitely true… As I said it before, now we care because we are so much into this life that we sometimes don’t really ask ourselves what we truly want to do and what really makes us happy.
Picturing myself (as sad as it is!) on the day I’m dying makes me feel confident that I want to look back at my life contented: “yes, I lived my life the exact way I wanted it to and did the things that made me deeply happy”.
✓ “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken Already” (Oscar Wilde)
I love Oscar Wilde and I think that he made a point saying this: there’s no need to compare ourselves to others and to try to be like everyone else. Everybody has his own personality and story, why compare yourself to someone that is not you? It would be like comparing two things that have nothing in common!
It may sound like I’m exaggerating but I’m really not! We are different people, completely different, so how can we compare things that are so different?!
✓ “Compare yourself with the person you were a year ago, 5 years ago or 10 years ago”
This makes a lot of sense. When you look back in times, you can see how much you learned, how much you have experienced. So actually, you should definitely compare your old self to your new self and see all the efforts behind these changes.
Maybe you could even compare yourself with your future self! It will give you some challenge and an aim to achieve 🙂
✓ “You have no idea what people have been through in their life”
I realized how different my past was to other people’s. We’ve not been through the same stuff, how can I compare these things with them! Like, my job, my house, my kids, my marriage, it’s impossible to compare each other’s story.
We didn’t grow up with the same parents, didn’t receive the same education, the same values, we simply didn’t live the same things… When you really start thinking about it, it doesn’t make sense!
We are made of so many different elements! Also, you see people ONE DAY, you have no idea how they are feeling the other days… Maybe they just look really good today but yesterday, you would have been shocked 😉
✓ “Nobody is perfect!”
Sometimes I remember I wished I was perfect! Everybody would love me and I would never feel mad at myself for reacting a certain way! This would be the dream. Yes, but the reality is that we are who we are with our qualities and our flaws, so we better accept the way we are 🙂
✓ “Get inspired by people”
I know what you may say… You won’t be inspired by many people! Because we may think sometimes that people are less good than us, less smart… But when you actually think about it, we may compare ourselves to people that are inspiring us! People that we can look at them and be like “I want to be like him/her!”.
Then, we can ask ourselves what they did to become this kind of person in our eyes and then, it will first tell us what to do to achieve this and second, it will give us a strong motivation!
✓ “You are just 1 person out of 7 billion”
Sometimes, saying that to myself is helping me not to compare myself to others. Why would I? I’m nothing on this huge planet! I mean, I feel unique and loved 😉 but I mean, why make such a big deal out of who we are compared to who?
When you think about the number of people on this planet, you agree that we may be taking ourselves a bit too seriously, right? Also, if you start comparing your life to others, do it with the 7 other billion people 😉 which will probably take you all of your life 🙂
✓ “Life isn’t always easy. Try from time to time to feel grateful for what you have”
I’m really not into the “think of people that have less than you” kind of advice. Even if it makes sense, when you’re feeling bad, it’s hard to then think about people that have maybe less than you! It then makes me feel worse about feeling bad!
If you understand what I mean 😉 But sometimes and not even with comparing people, it’s more about thinking of what we can be grateful for. For example, think about in the last days, in what moments you felt good. Who were you with? Or what were you doing?
Try to think about these moments and to what you could say “thank you to” Again, I feel like it’s making me focus less on myself and on comparing me to others…
✓ “You have strengths and talents”
Yes, we all do! Check out this post about finding what you’re good at. Then, use them as resources to achieve all of your goals!
✓ “Love yourself, you’re amazing! And you’ll spend your whole life with you, you were born like this, you will probably die like this, feel good about who you are!”
I’m writing this sentence the exact same way a friend told it to me a few years ago…
I remember that I was talking about things on my body that I didn’t like and that I wished I would have different because this person had a better body etc. etc. and I think that this friend got tired and told me this, a bit aggressively aha but I will always remember it. He was very right.
5 comparing yourself to others quotes that I like
- “Be a role model for Yourself!” Anonymous
- “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blooms.” Zen Shin
- “This person is beautiful… but so am I.” Anonymous
- “Comparison is the thief of joy” Franklin Roosevelt
- “To love is to stop comparing.” Bernard Grasset
To sum up!
Comparing yourself to others is a natural human response. However, if you find yourself obsessing over other’s achievements, then comparisons may do you more harm than good.
Negative comparisons may lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-worth, esteem issues, stress, anxiety, and even depression.
There are positive ways to make healthy comparisons. You can compare your goals to restructure and improve your life. You can compare methods to bring in more creativity and improve your systems.
To avoid the negative effects of comparing yourself to others, use our ten top tips. You don’t have to practice them all at once. I’d suggest you practice gratitude first, then slowly incorporate the other tips.
Focus more on your personal goals than other people’s achievements and you will live a more fulfilled and confident life.
You may also be interested in…
- 7 Ways To Boost Your Self-Confidence
- Two Minutes Inside a Self-Confident Person’s Head
- How to Properly Take Action
- 15 Habits Of Extremely Successful People
If you have other sentences you heard or want to hear to stop comparing yourself please let me know, I would love to make this list bigger! 🙂
What are your thoughts of comparing yourself to others? Have you ever felt this way…? Share with me in the comment section! 🙂