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Even though most of us try not to, we’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. We can make comparisons like, “I wish I dressed like so-and-so,” or, “I wish I were as rich as them.”
This is often unconscious, but it’s important to try to train ourselves to stop. While it may motivate us to better ourselves, constantly comparing ourselves to others can lead to negative thoughts.
Why do I compare myself to others?
Human beings are social creatures, and comparison is common throughout our entire history.
Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook bombard us with posts about what we lack. These apps are comparison traps that encourage us to question aspects of our own lives.
It’s easy to forget that social media is a highlight reel of other people’s lives. We see their best moments, but don’t usually witness their struggles.
We often compare our lesser qualities with a person's best qualities, skewing our judgment.
How does comparison affect my life?
Too much comparison leads to unhappiness and low self-esteem. We become frustrated with ourselves for "not being good enough," or angry with others.
Some real-life examples of comparisons are:
- You see another woman walk down the street and think, “I wish I were as pretty as her."
- You see a celebrity posting on Instagram about their workout and tell yourself, “If only my body looked like his."
- A coworker is giving a presentation, and you can’t help saying, “She’s a way better public speaker than I am."
Feelings of jealousy, frustration, and hopelessness emerge if comparisons continue. If left unaddressed, chronic anxiety and depression can stem from such behavior.
To avoid comparisons, people may look for others’ faults to make themselves feel better. This is just as unhealthy as tearing yourself apart for what you don’t have or don’t look like.
I want to stop comparing myself to others: what do I do?
To halt the comparison habit, focus on bettering yourself and boosting your confidence. Try to train your mind to step away from unfavorable comparisons. Seek instead to embrace kindness and a positive attitude. It's hard work, but it pays off.
Here are some things you can do to take the initiative to stop comparing yourself to others.
1. Be aware of your triggers and avoid them
To improve your mental health and emotional well-being, list out the situations and circumstances that make you sad or cynical. Social media isn’t the only thing harming our self-esteem.
Is there someone in your life who often puts you down? Or maybe you feel inadequate when a colleague brags. Perhaps there’s a specific place that makes you feel bad, like wandering through an expensive store at the mall.
Once you are aware of situations that make you likely to engage in comparisons, you can take action to avoid them.
2. Limit your time on social media
Social media keeps us up to date on our family and friends, current events, and raises awareness. But like most things, it’s best in moderation. Over scrolling on social media, especially when consuming lifestyle and beauty content, can have negative effects on our self-worth.
Unfollow accounts that cause you to compare yourself to others. Turn off your phone after a certain time of day and don’t respond to every message or comment you receive.
Ask yourself if you could spend your time on social media more constructively instead. Could you read a book? Go for a walk? Call a friend?
3. Avoid comparing other peoples' "outsides" to your own "insides"
No one truly knows what’s happening behind the scenes in someone else’s life. Everyone is facing their own struggles.
4. Remind yourself that "money doesn't buy happiness"
There is a relationship between mental health and money. But one thing is true: money doesn't buy happiness. Despite being bombarded with ads that say otherwise, money doesn’t guarantee permanent happiness. Watching celebrities live luxurious lifestyles can lead us to believe that money will solve our problems, but it rarely does. Instead, it only buys temporary joy.
5. Count your blessings
Be grateful for what you have. Someone’s life may seem better, but there might be another person out there wishing they had what you had. There’s always something, even just one thing, for which you can be thankful. Implement these strategies to fine-tune your gratitude practice.
6. Use comparison as motivation
Comparisons can be a great catalyst for change, so long as it’s healthy. Instead of feeling envious of other people’s accomplishments, think about how they were able to achieve them. Then, see how you can replicate them.
Being inspired by someone you know to be kinder or more open-minded can lead you to be a better person.
7. Focus on your strengths
It’s okay to be humble, but you should also be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Too much humility is just as harmful as too much self-confidence.
Make a list of what you like about yourself. Writing things down can help us recognize and accept the truth instead of speaking it aloud. You can be as general or as specific as you like, and let this list serve as a reminder of your strengths.
8. Celebrate other people too
9. Remember that insecurities are universal
It’s normal for you to compare yourself to others. We all experience self-doubts and fears that get the best of us now and then. Even the most confident people feel insecure sometimes.
10. Use your past self as a benchmark of comparison
The only real competition you have is who you were yesterday, who you were last month, or who you were a year ago. You’ll be able to see real growth through retrospection and be proud of your growth.
Inspiring quotations to defeat comparisons
Here are some wise words from others that are sure to help spark that urge to stop comparing your life to others and appreciate your amazing self just a little bit more.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Rosevelt.
"Stop comparing yourself to other people: you are an original. We are all different and it's okay." - Joyce Meyer.
"I don't want other people to decide what I am. I want to decide that for myself." - Emma Waston.
"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you." - Dr. Seuss.
The bottom line
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Your efforts should focus on growing from within, being kinder, more resilient, working hard, and being more open instead of whether or not your hair is long enough or you’re as strong as someone else.
BetterUp was created to help us understand ourselves and take charge of our own lives. Clarity, purpose, and passion, and the tools to go after what matters to you.
BetterUp focuses on human transformation, championing personal growth, social connections, and mental fitness, all in the name of internalizing healthy self-care practices. If you’re willing to put in the work, we’re here to guide you through this crazy journey called life.
Content Marketing Manager, ACC