We can have anything we want, but we can’t have everything. Despite being aware of this, we obsess over what others have that we don’t. We compare our paycheques, houses, and even our appearances to those we barely know. We spend time thinking about the perfect lives of others while drowning ourselves in self-pity and a profuse sense of failure. Such habits can easily fool us into falling for the comparison trap, leaving us feeling inferior or depressed.
In the age of social media, this comparison trap has become even more wider than ever. According to a study, “Social media generates ubiquitous comparison information and accessible feedback, such as the number of likes, followers, comments, and retweets. Information such as these allow people to form impressions of others quickly.” Another research suggests many use social media to find inspiration and to figure out their purpose in life. But in the process, they lose sight of their main objective and end up getting discouraged by the good fortunes of others. What follows next—as per the research—is they: “feel inadequate, have poorer self-evaluations and experience negative emotions”.
So, how do you stop comparing yourself to others? To get started, here are a few important tips to climb out of the comparison trap.
Shift your focus inward
Focusing on your goals means taking charge of your life, without blurring your vision by comparing your goals with others’. One way to do this would be to keep a daily journal of your routine, making a list of experiences you’d like to have, challenging yourself to try something new, and more. When you shift your focus towards yourself, you start living a more fulfilling life. The more you do this, the sooner you will stop comparing yourself to others, and enjoy what you have.
Count your blessings
Make an effort to value what you have, and not be stressed about the things that you don’t. Be grateful for all the good things in your life. They could be your family, friends, or a job that you love. Gratitude prevents you from becoming unhappy and makes you appreciate your life. According to research, gratitude invites positive emotions that can have many physical benefits including “decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increasing oxytocin”—the bonding hormone that makes us feel good.
Compare yourself with you
Remember, your first and foremost goal is to become a better version of yourself. So, the only person you should be comparing yourself to is you. Ask yourself questions like, Am I growing? Am I learning? Am I getting closer to my goals? This introspection will help you measure your progress. Make sure to celebrate little victories and milestones in your life—they go a long way in keeping you motivated and focused. You need to create your own definition of success. This way, you can live life on your own terms, without needing outside approval.
Don’t let fear influence your choices
Do not let fear make your decisions as it rarely takes you in the right direction. The fear of failure can be immobilising, causing you to resist moving forward or attempting something new. You lose control over your life, and little by little, become more reactive and less proactive. To overcome it, you need to make your choices on the basis of what you want, and not what you don’t. It means you need to ask yourself tough questions like, What am I afraid of? What’s keeping me from making this decision? Why am I taking a safe route instead of following my dream? These questions will help you identify the root cause of your fear before you start tackling it.
Compare for inspiration
What inspires you should never become a source of comparison and self-doubt. You should look up to the people you admire and be inspired, instead of viewing their success stories as a yardstick. Do not compare yourself to others, but approach people who inspire you to grow or challenge you to become better than who you are. Remember, you always have something to learn from others. So, instead of envying others’ success, get inspired by their grit and dedication to reach your goals.
Know your strengths and achievements
Focusing on strengths brings forth a sense of fulfilment and progress. Do not worry about the skills you don’t possess, rather, polish the ones you already have. Write down the things that you like about yourself—the things you can identify as strengths. Make sure they are personal. According to a study, when you focus on developing your strengths, you grow faster than when you’re trying to work on your weaknesses. You also become happier, have good mental health, and lead an active life.
You are not perfect
You will always find someone who is richer or smarter than you. But this shouldn’t affect how you view yourself. Let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back from accepting who you are. Recognise your self-worth. Keep in mind the fact that someone else doesn’t have to fail for you to succeed. When you are happy with your own life, you stop caring about what others are doing and instead, start focusing on what matters.
Don’t make social media your yardstick
In the age of social media, if you compare yourself to others, you allow them to drive your behaviour. Here, you often compare their best features against your average ones. Such comparisons are bound to make you unhappy. People, in general, only showcase the best moments of their lives on social media. So, it is important for you to not make it your yardstick of success or anything else for that matter.