I think this one thing can lead to so many different emotions. When I first think of comparison I think- the route of all evil. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of comparing yourself to others in a detrimental way. You can often end up feeling that everyone on the planet is the same and you’re the odd one out. It always leads to the question Why? Why am I different? Why don’t I have what they have? Why is everything always so difficult for me? etc. I wonder if we can start to use comparison in a positive way though instead?
So I think it would be crazy to just say stop comparing yourself to others. I’ve seen a lot of people saying this, but really it’s human nature. Humans are social beings. You can’t stop seeing other people and in some way noticing what may be similar or different about you. But what we could do is learn to use comparison as a positive tool in our own affirmations, rather than bigging someone else up to keep ourselves down.
Learn about yourself
The first step I guess at not getting bogged down in thinking that other people are better than you is to really learn about yourself. Know who you are. If you have a strong self-image then it will be harder to shake. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves, but we don’t often focus on the good. Find some time each day to try and give yourself a compliment as you would if you met you as a stranger. We’re all great at finding something nice to say to someone else, but the mirror is a different story.
This will not be a quick process to begin with. You may have to tackle areas at a time, maybe your face the first week, then your body, then your style/ clothes, then lifestyle etc. Whatever it is that you find yourself constantly coming back to wishing was better. Make a list of all of these things and then over time really get to know them. And the important thing again is to be realistic. Do not allow yourself to drown in the immediate negative things that come to mind. Stay there until you get some positives. Write them down if you need to. And keep doing this until you really get to know yourself.
Make your own image as strong as the ones you see of others.
I like to do this thing which at first may sound horrendous- but stay with me. I take photos of my face from different angles- not off centre, from above like every selfie ever taken these days. I’m talking awful, under the chins, dead centre close up type stuff. This at first you may feel is horrible. But that’s just because we’re only used to seeing ourselves in the same selfie pose now. We’ve forgotten what our whole face actually looks like. But guess what. When you’re walking around talking to people they will see you from all angles. So get use to it yourself. This is your face, your head. It is more than one angle. And I tell you something- you will not mind a photo you’re tagged in going forward half as much as you currently do once you get use to seeing your face again up close and personal.
The main positive of getting to know and like yourself like this is that you will find comparison won’t happen as much as it did before. When you like more things about yourself, then you have less to compare to others- because actually you don’t care about your thighs anymore as you’ve discovered that your arse is rocking! Loving just one thing about yourself can quiet the rest of the hate.
Reality Check Comparison
The next step in comparing effectively is to anchor your comparison in reality. You may be looking at a picture of a reality star on Instagram on a beach somewhere exotic, looking size 0 in a bikini and wishing you were that skinny, or that you could afford exotic holidays etc. But don’t just look at the image and move on. Really think about what’s going on here. That person you are looking at is not a direct comparison of you. They are a size 0 because it is their job to be a size 0. They are their brand. They don’t work 9-5.30 like you do in an office. And they have a dietician who provides all their meals. They don’t have to put together a shopping list for the week before battling in the aisles of Aldi. And that holiday is probably paid for as an advertisement. The hotel have probably paid for them to fly out for a night, have the photo and go home again.
A picture actually has a whole story behind it, especially when it seems that the picture is perfect. It’s probably the 200th one to be taken. Wouldn’t you much rather actually go on holiday and have fun than spend 4 hours trying to get one photo you’re happy with?
Being real about the comparisons you’re making is essential to stop yourself believing that everyone else has a perfect life except you. We all have shit, even super models.
Once you can like yourself and be real about the things you see in other people, you can then focus on the things you would actually like to aspire to. You can sort through your feed and not be bothered by the majority of postings that all look the same. You have the tools to really think about it. Do you want to spend your working days in the gym not being able to eat chocolate cake when you want to? Probably not actually. That time you spent comparing yourself to others before can now be used positively.
You can now just focus on things that you may actually want to learn from. Maybe you don’t want that reality stars life, but the way they handled their latest break up with dignity is something to aspire to. If we can start to push the superficial to one side, we can actually learn about the things that are important to us. We can start to learn about our values. Once you know your values then you can work towards things which will actually make you happy. Losing 3 pounds will not make you happy. Feeling proud of how you handled a situation at work will though.
Once you have your values you can start to look for these in others and use comparison as a tool to achieve these value based goals that will lead to you being fulfilled.
So in short-
- Spend time focusing on yourself- the good things
- Be realistic when looking at other people and their lives
- Focus on what you really aspire to
- Use comparison to achieve those value based goals