We all compare ourselves to others at a certain point in our lives. We most commonly do it on things that we can outwardly perceive such as wealth, attributes, physical appearances, social status, relationship, and tangible achievements.
The concept of comparative behaviour is not new but around 2 thousand years ago, the famous Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato already mentioned about it. Moreover, the ‘social comparison theory’ by the eminent social scientist Leon Festinger states that there is a natural tendency within individuals to gauge their own worth and values by looking to other people.
Comparing oneself to others is not wrong but the problem occurs when we start judging ourselves on something useless and meaningless. We don’t understand or perhaps don’t want to understand that there is never a win when we evaluate our self-esteem on the comparison basis. We often compare ourselves to those who we observe as having or doing much more than us instead of comparing to people who are less fortunate.
Constantly gazing at other people ahead of us leave us unfulfilled, insecure and dissatisfied. It weakens us mentally as well as physically. And it is an unkind way to measure our true worth. Therefore, it becomes essential to stop comparing yourself to others and start to feel blessed on what you have. There are a few simple steps you can take to build self-confidence and resist the urge to compare yourself with others.
1. Recognize the Foundation of Your Comparative Behaviour: People tend to compare their weaknesses with others’ strengths; what they haven’t achieved with what others have. So, whenever you observe yourself comparing, try to find out the how you view yourself. Without assessing your positive or negative evaluations about yourself, you will not able to discover the underlying problem. Take a paper and write down all your thoughts or feelings that come to mind on it. It will assist you to know where your comparative views instigated. This way, you will be more likely to change behaviour that is affecting you negatively.
2. Redirect Your Comparison to Your Past and Present Self: Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, why not compare your past to your present. Generally, what we become today is simply the consequence of the decisions we made in our past. So, when next time you are comparing yourself to others, take a moment and re-direct your thought. It will assist in keeping the comparison within as well and allow you to become an improved version of yourself.
3. Find What Triggers Your Behaviour: Research shows that social media connections, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, make us gloomy and depressed. It has been seen that exposure to social media has a negative effect on people’s self-esteem. Without knowing or contemplating on what actually is going on in others’ lives, you should not make any assumption. Remind yourself that people generally post the stuff they want us to see not what is really happening in their life.
If watching someone else’s status or posts make you sadder, it is wise to log off or deactivate your account. After doing that, you will find yourself more contented and relaxed. If disabling an account is not possible, limit your time to spend on such sites or you can also use it in a constructive way by following educational and motivational pages.
4. Stay Happy in What You Have: Once you realize that comparing your life to others is not doing any good for you, you will seek other measures for your success. Start thinking about all the great things or gifts that you do have. It will divert your attention from others to yourself. Pen down them in your diary or a journal, and read them whenever such negative feeling comes up. Instead of writing just points or list of things, write in depth about the things that make you feel grateful.
Recognize that everyone’s life situations are entirely unique. You can work on your abilities. If you see some areas where you need improvement, you can take lessons, classes or workshops. Besides, include some type of meditation technique or exercise in your routine that helps in improving mental health as well as shifting your thoughts from your comparative behaviour toward building self-worth.
5. Appreciate Other People Instead of Envying Them: If you have highly achieving friends, consider that they must have networks of people who might help you in your career growth or to become more successful in your life. Instead of being jealous or envying of their achievement, utilize their success to your benefit. Also, if you see someone with a car, physical appearance or things you want, try to write down the steps you can take to get yourself closer to these goals and achieve them.
Most of the time we compare ourselves on illogical things. We need to understand that we all came in different. We all have our diverse needs and desires. It does not matter what anyone else is doing but how well we are doing with what we have is important.
Eve Charlton is a dietician and an avid reader. She writes health and fitness related articles to make people around her more conscious. She also provides wellness coaching to people and inspires them about how to eat well and live a healthy life. In her spare time, you’ll find her in bed either with a pile of books or with her laptop. You can reach her on Facebook.