Do you sometimes find yourself feeling down, because you don’t think you’re as smart, capable, successful or good-looking as the next person? Looking around to see how others are doing is normal and a part of how we learn, but when it starts affecting your mood and stopping you from making progress in your life, it’s time to do something about it. Here are three steps to help you stop comparing yourself to others in a way that’s not helpful and start using comparison as a source of self-knowledge and inspiration instead.
Make a decision to notice when you’re comparing yourself to others. You’re probably not going to catch yourself every single time, but whenever you do, acknowledge what’s happening without judgement. Don’t berate yourself and make yourself feel even worse, it’s perfectly ok!
Pretend that you’re observing the way you think as a scientist, who can’t wait to discover what’s behind it. Again, don’t judge yourself, simply get curious and see where it leads you.
Are you wishing that you had something the other person has? That’s fantastic! The first step to getting what you want is getting clear on what it is. Not only you’re receiving clues about it, but you also have evidence that it’s possible. If someone else has achieved it, so can you.
Most of the time, we don’t want the whole package of someone else’s life. For example, when I wasn’t working, I’d often feel less worthy than the other mums at my kids’ school, who’d always talk about their work. Yet, when I thought about it, I didn’t want what they had. I didn’t want to have to leave my baby with someone else to go to work and I was fortunate that I didn’t have to. What I wanted was to feel worthy and important. It was the comparison to others that helped me uncover what I was lacking.
In other situations negative comparison can be a sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and your fear is trying to hold you back. I’m talking about thoughts like “She knows more than me about this topic, so she should be giving this presentation, not me” or “There’re other people who are better than me at this, they should be getting the promotion”. This is really not about other people have or don’t have, or you not being good enough. It’s about your subconscious mind trying to protect you from a potentially uncomfortable situation.
Now that you’ve gotten to the bottom of why you’re comparing yourself to that other person, you can use that knowledge to take action. You’ve discovered something you want? Great! Time to make a plan and take the first step. Realised that you’d much rather live your own life than somebody else’s? Seal this realization by doing something nice for yourself. Uncovered your hidden fear? Often fear dissipates as soon as we call it out, but if it doesn’t, you now have enough understanding to choose the appropriate tools to deal with it.
The more you engage in this process and see comparison as something to be questioned rather than the ultimate truth, the more you’ll find yourself accepting that you’re different and perfect just the way you are.
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