The constant flow of social media information and notifications on our phones, with the handpicked and highly biased portraits everyone projects of their life, hammers on you more the idea that yours is not good enough.
“You are not good looking enough… not happy enough… not successful enough… not smart enough… not lovable enough… not appreciated enough…”
We all have an inner drive to want more, to experience more, to achieve more, to become more. And this void gets more apparent when we compare ourselves to others, or to our own fanciful ideas of how we should be. But we can’t stop comparing all together, can we?
Making comparison is a natural tendency; a necessary skill in the process of evolution to make choices and set priorities. However, an appropriate comparison becomes a source of inspiration and motivation; while, an inappropriate one is the source of much emotional pain, frustration, stress and anxiety.
We have some level of control in how we compare, and the stories we create around it. So let’s see how we can use this ability in a more skillful way.
Comparing Yourself to Others that Sucks
The comparison that literally sucks the motivational energy out of your system gradually leaves you exhausted, disempowered, discouraged or confused.
1. Comparing your “reality” against other people’s “apparent reality”
What you see on social media is not an accurate portrait of other people’s lives, but rather handpicked highlights of what they choose to show. Facebook and TV programs only show the best and at times the worst parts of one’s life, not the whole picture.
Don’t bother comparing your behind the scenes with the careful presentation of other people’s trailer. What you see is but the tip of the iceberg! ― Sepi Tajima
2. Comparing your “beginning” with someone else’s “middle or end”
For example, if you are new to sports, and you compare your performance with those of professional athletes, you may feel discouraged – especially if you are not willing to put in the much-needed effort, time and personal sacrifices in order to get to their level of mastery.
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. ― Michael Jordan
3. Comparing or being compared with things you “don’t really care about”
If being in a romantic relationship is not a priority for you then why compare yourself with someone who is happily married?
Or the opposite, if being in a relationship is of value to you then why compare yourself with your single friends that seem to be having a lot of fun?
If having a child is not an authentic desire of yours, why compare yourself with those who have kids?
If you are not willing to run your own business why comparing yourself with your friends that have a successful business?
Look deeper into what you compare yourself to; some of these “values” might not be authentic to you. You might have been forced to believe that they are important by picking them up from magazines, media, social culture, school, or your family systems. Define which ones are of real value to you.
Comparison is an act of violence against the self. ― Lyanla Vanzant
4. Comparing or being compared in areas you have “no power to change”
Comparing your unpleasant upbringing, your physical attributes (like height or skin color), or your family of origin can lead to much frustration and disempowerment as in most cases there is absolutely nothing you can do about them.
You will be bitter in life when you compare yourself with others. Run the race of life at your own pace. ― Lailah Gifty Akita
Comparing Yourself to Others that Rocks
The comparison that encourages, empowers, and fills you up with inspiration and motivation truly rocks!
1. Comparing yourself to your “previous version” in an uplifting way
Appreciate every victory along your journey, no matter how small. From time to time, pause and celebrate how far you have come. Life is not easy. Pat yourself on the shoulder, look yourself in the eyes in a mirror and say:
Pat yourself on the shoulder, look yourself in the eyes in a mirror and say: “I’m proud of you, (your name)! You have come a long way…”
Stop worrying about who’s doing better than you or not. Be better every new day than your previous day. ― Constance Chuks Friday
2. Comparing yourself to those you “truly admire”
People that personify where you want to be in life, what you want to become or achieve, are a great source of inspiration and motivation. Being in contact with them will not make you suffer, on the contrary, it will fuel you to move forward. Learn from them and develop similar positive qualities.
The problem with this generation is they are so quick to define who they are in the process of searching. It is their need for immediate acceptance that keeps them from exploring further. ― Shannon L. Alder
3. Comparing yourself to those in “harder situations”
At times, all it takes is a single click to get reminded of the many blessings we take for granted in life.
Look not only at those more fortunate or privileged but also at those who have less than you. Open your eyes and heart; there is plenty to acknowledge.
This can lead to a greater sense of appreciation, compassion and gratitude for your current situation. [Or arrogance and a sense of entitlement for some people, depending on the level of maturity.]
When you stop comparing what is right here and now with what you wish were, you can begin to enjoy what is. ― Cheri Huber
4. Comparing or being compared in areas you “care about and can change”
What skills do you need to develop?
What new habits can improve your current situation?
Be patient. Take one baby step at a time.
You are not what others think you are. The important thing isn’t what other people think you are; it’s who you are. ― Shannon L. Alder
The art of comparison determines the direction of your energy. The finer the quality of your comparisons, the more empowered is your journey. Life unfolds only in moments. Choose mindfully and more consciously moment after moment.
A skilled counselor or coach can support you to understand and break through these negative patterns, allowing you to live a more satisfying life. Practicing meditation and mindfulness can be powerful tools to improve your filtering ability and emptying your cup. I will gradually post other tools and techniques to better equip you for your journey.
#1 Who or what are you comparing yourself to that is creating frustration?
#2 Which category does your comparison fit in – the comparison that sucks or rocks?
#3 Limit your contact with people whose presence trigger vain comparisons and create needless stress and anxiety in you.
#4 Put that creative brain to work and make more of the comparison that rocks!
=> You can download the free PDF for easy reference at your own convenience.
=> This is the 5th post of a series. It is an invitation to look at your life and well-being from a refreshed perspective. My commitment is to be with you on your journey, in your struggles, in your pain and sorrow. My goal is to clarify complex topics and make them more digestible. So stay tuned.
=> Previous post: How to stop self-sabotage by understanding your 3 brains [Illustrated]
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The iceberg’s image is taken from Starecat.