We need to break the comparison cycle because it’s a game we’ll never win. Comparison steals our joy, our paychecks and our sanity. If we don’t stop comparing ourselves to others, we will constantly spend money and mental energy just trying to keep up!
There’s actually a biological reason we’re prone to comparing ourselves to others. Our brain uses comparison to figure out how we measure up to other people.
Thomas Mussweiler, a professor of organizational behavior, describes comparison this way:
Most of the time, this calculation is made in a split second in the background, and we don’t even realize it. But when we dwell on the highlights of other people’s lives, it can quickly become toxic. We’re wired for connection and belonging, but if we constantly compare ourselves to others, we’re putting our happiness, confidence and mental health at risk.
Comparison costs us:
- Causing us to lose focus and takes our eyes off our goals.
- Makes us feel bad about how we’re doing. It diminishes our accomplishments.
- Fuels emotions of depression and anxiety, draining us of our mental strength to do our best.
- Stops us from taking action. We hide. We avoid.
- Creates negative and anxious thoughts that are hard to come out of -AKA ruminations
- Causes us to overspend in an effort to keep up with the Joneses
When we compare ourselves to others, we make bad decisions, or decisions that don’t necessarily serve us. We will never be able to stop comparing ourselves to other people. But we can decide if want to use these comparisons to better ourselves and move forward or bash ourselves and stay stuck.
Here are 6 Practical Ways to Get Out of the Comparison Trap.
1. Let Jealousy and envy GUIDE you.
They’re pointing you in the right direction.
Ever get jealous when you see someone else succeed? I know I do. It’s normal to have those feelings, but it’s what you do with them that can CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
The next time you feel JEALOUS, do this: (This reframe is a game-changer)
- Lean into the feeling. It’s your soul telling you, “This is the kind of success YOU want for yourself.” See it as a sign that IT’S POSSIBLE for you to experience the same success.
- Don’t shrink when someone else does something similar to what you want to do. Instead RISE and figure it out!
- Instead of comparing, start looking at people who have what you want and ADMIRE them. Be INSPIRED by them. Teach yourself how to use that as motivation and inspiration instead of a reason to bash yourself. Let it amplify your ability to see and admire your own accomplishments, traits, goals and dreams.
2. Ask yourself what you can learn
So the next time you’re tempted to think someone else is better than you, reframe the way you’re thinking about the situation. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I admire about this person or their work?
- What information does that person have that could be helpful to me?
- How can I make what they do better? Or How can put my own mark on this shared thing we both do?
- What would I ask this person if I could talk to them?
- Stay curious. Look for opportunities to learn and you’ll start to see that other people aren’t necessarily better than you.
3. Embrace an Infinite vs Finite Mindset
It took me a long time to truly embrace the idea that there is enough success for all of us. The world is an enormous place, and there is room for everyone to succeed, be happy, and pursue their dreams.
This is what we call an infinite mindset. It embraces abundance.
When you are jealous of others and see them as someone you have to be better than, you are using a finite mindset. This mindset tells you that there’s not enough room for everyone to be successful. It’s a mindset of scarcity, limiting our possibilities.
When you embrace an infinite mindset, you stop looking at everyone around you as competition. You know that just because they are successful it doesn’t mean you can’t be. Just because they are beautiful doesn’t mean you are not. Just because they have what you want doesn’t mean you can’t have it.
4. Cheer for other people (AKA shift from a finite to an infinite mindset)
I have seen first-hand that the more you cheer for other people, the faster that success and happiness will come to you. Constantly comparing ourselves to others leads to us not cheering on the people who are working hard to get somewhere. And it makes it hard to celebrate with the ones who’ve accomplished something!
So, here’s my challenge to you: When a friend tells you about her new job, be happy for her. If someone buys a new house, take part in their enthusiasm. If someone shares some great news with you, keep the focus on them instead of turning it back to yourself. Find big and small ways to celebrate other people’s accomplishments!
Their success has nothing to do with you, so celebrate their success sincerely while you keep working toward your own success.
5. Learn to compete with yourself instead of others.
The only person you should compare yourself with is the person you were yesterday.
You have so much self-doubt that you see other people as competition. The only competition is the one that you create in your mind. It is impossible to not compare yourself to other people.
Instead of focusing on where you are compared to others, focus on your own goals. Where are you compared to where you were at this time last year? Or five years ago?
In the past year, you’ve learned, stretched, improved, accomplished and created. Think about how much of that you’ve done in your lifetime!
6. Unlock the power of contentment.
Gratitude leads to contentment, which allows you to be in a state of joy and satisfaction no matter what your circumstances. Having a daily gratitude ritual through journaling, a gratitude jar, or something else will lead you to a place of knowing you are happy with where you are in life and aren’t worried about what other people are doing.
Contentment doesn’t mean you don’t have goals for the future or that you aren’t working toward being a better person tomorrow than you are today. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re stagnant or that you’re choosing to sit around and do nothing new, exciting and challenging with your life.
It just means that you develop a peace about your life and a sincere enjoyment about what you have today without basing all your happiness on what you hope to achieve tomorrow.
Your next step.
It’s easy to look at what everyone else is doing and achieving and think, “I’m not good enough, I should be doing more, I’m not ready, I don’t have enough, I’m failing.”
But you have no idea where other people’s starting lines were or where their finish line will be.
And you are not behind. You are exactly where you need to be. You’re not falling behind in life. There’s no one to be behind because there isn’t a race to begin with.
Decide that today is the day you start to put in the work, show up as yourself, have the courage to pursue the things that scare the crap out of you, and stop worrying about what others are doing.
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