When you get a promotion at work, are you smug to your co-workers? When you look at your friends on Facebook, do you feel jealous of them because you think their lives are much more exciting than yours? Whenever you read reviews of other people commending your friend’s business, do you feel a twinge of insecurity because you think she’s more successful than you are, or perhaps that she didn’t do enough to deserve it?
Whether it’s one or all, if these scenarios sound all too familiar to you, then you might have fallen into ‘the comparison trap’. Don’t beat yourself up though, we all struggle with this—it’s hard not to. We have a fundamental need to evaluate ourselves, and the only way to do that is in reference to something else. As such, making comparisons to others has become natural in our competitive culture, and is often how we gauge our progress, but it can be very self-limiting.
In the comparison trap, you find yourself in a spiral of challenging emotions and thoughts, and for some, it can be gruesome and painful. You will eventually stop giving your best and pull your confidence level to its lowest point, thereby, inhibiting your performance.
So, how do you break out of comparing yourself to others?
You may think everyone is better than you are, but you are only seeing the image they portray to others. You are actively comparing their highlight reel to your intimate knowledge of every flaw that you have which doesn’t make any sense at all. Everyone has their own fears and weaknesses — after all, we’re all human.
2. Compare Yourself with Your Own Past
Let’s face it, the comparison is part and parcel of human life. So rather than trying to avoid the inevitable, change the object of your comparison—yourself. Are you where you wanted to be 2 years ago? Are you on your way to where you want to be? This comparison to yourself is very empowering because it is within your control to create the person you want to become and to improve.
3. Channel Your Envy into Purpose
With the conditions of each person’s life being so unique, you have no idea how much time and effort someone else has put into achieving the results you envy. Instead of murmuring and degrading others over their efforts—which you may know little of—turn your envy into inspiration and cultivate your own joy. It really is possible to turn difficult emotions into opportunities for self-exploration when you’re curious about your mind, your experiences, what you need, and what you want.
It’s hard not to compare but to fall into the bottomless pit of comparison and mental and emotional torment is certainly avoidable as you are confined only by the walls you build yourself. So, irrespective of the level of competition, focus on your end goals rather than comparing your performance with those around you. By changing our filter and our thoughts, we add on to the betterment—not embitterment—of our own lives.