“Every minute you spend wishing you had someone else’s life is a minute spent wasting yours”
I have talked a lot about our mind-sets and thoughts on this blog. Mainly reminding you how the way we think has such a huge impact on our moods, the way we act and the decisions we make. People so often wonder why they feel miserable, anxious or not enough…
I can tell you one common thought pattern that contributes to these feelings all too often…. comparing yourself. I see it time and time again, ruining lives (and I’m not exaggerating). We seem to have an incredible ability to compare ourselves to everyone else, and usually, we conclude that everyone else is absolutely smashing life whilst we are failing, terribly.
This way of thinking is actually a big problem I think we are all quite aware of, yet it still seems to beat us down and make us feel rubbish. People seem to know they do it, but they believe these unhelpful thoughts anyway.
Typically, comparing ourselves comes in two forms, we either look at others as being superior to ourselves, or inferior. Neither is healthy nor good for your wellbeing.
As I’ve pointed out, most commonly people compare themselves negatively against others. People will notice and overestimate all the negatives in their own lives and match this against all the positive in someone else’s life. They will believe they are not as pretty, or rich, or happy, or clever, or successful, or *insert your own word here*…
Perhaps you find yourself wishing you had someone else’s body, or job, or well behaved child, or perfect relationship, or new car, or cosy home, or engagement ring…you get it, and sadly you know I could go on.
We are constantly measuring ourselves up in these ways. Measuring against friends, colleagues, siblings, neighbours, celebrities. Rather than focusing on our own lives, we are looking at what all these people are doing with theirs, which only reinforces the feeling of being stuck.
Comparing leads to those negative emotions; sadness, anger, jealousy – and we all know what kind of behaviours derive from those emotions. So not only does comparing yourself cause you upset and anxiety, it also has the power to bring out the worst in you.
Now don’t get me wrong, comparing yourself doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You are allowed to look at where people are and aspire to be there yourself. If there is someone you admire, that can be great for your motivation and productivity. But that’s where you draw the line. Don’t go over and over what you don’t have and the certainly don’t hate on them for what they have, that is only hurting you. Be happy for them, that is the kind of energy that is going to set you on a happier path too.
With that said, mostly, comparisons are harmful. They affect your self-esteem and in more severe cases can lead to episodes of depression and anxiety. It is not acceptable that this way of thinking is so normal and causing so many issues for you.
You’re not a rubbish person and you are not failing because your mind goes to these places. It is natural to make these comparisons; it seems to be the human way. But just because your mind goes there, it doesn’t mean it has to stay there, and it definitely doesn’t mean you have to believe the thoughts.
For as long as you are sat there comparing yourself and questioning your own life choices against other people’s, you are not taking action. If you want to change something, change it, go ahead, but don’t feel the need to be like anyone else. Stay on your path, this is your journey.
We are put into a box of what we should be doing by what age and how we should be doing it. When you’re not in that place, and it feels like those around you are, life can feel tough. You look at everyone who has what you want (or at least what you think you should want) and you ignore the millions of people in this world in similar positions to you.
Another problem you will find, is comparison can easily lead to resentment, even towards people you love and care for. Jealousy can be toxic and get in the way of your logical mind. That resentment will find ways to come out, whether it is through bitching (doesn’t make you feel good) or behaving different towards that person. It’s totally ok to experience jealousy, but notice it, know it is not worth it, and let it go, move on, decide your friendship, kindness and feeling good is more important. When you choose love, you are much more likely to attract what you desire anyway.
When you compare yourself you can get stuck in a victim mentality of “why me?”, “why can’t I have what they have”, “why does that person deserve this and not me”, “life is unfair”. That is going to help nobody, it only convinces you that change is out of your control. Maybe that person you’re looking at worked really hard for what they have? maybe they made good decisions? maybe they got lucky? maybe they don’t have what you think they do. Whatever the case, dwelling on it isn’t helping.
If you find yourself getting stuck in this trap of comparing yourself, here is just a few ways you can begin to challenge the thoughts and take your power back:
We usually compare ourselves on elements that we value the most; money, looks, relationships, careers. Take a second to think about which areas you tend to compare yourself. There will be a pattern to your own areas of comparison that may differ from mine. Identifying this will actually make it slightly easier to tackle for you because you will be more aware of it happening and thus, able to challenge it.
Like I said if someone does have something you want, decide on a plan of action to get it or if that’s not possible, let it go. Going over and over it is pointless and doesn’t get you any closer. Accept your own reality, don’t try and go against the flow. Remember, life is about feeling good and being happy, the sooner we accept what is, the sooner we can get on with life.
Recognising and identifying when you are comparing yourself will take off some of the heat straight away. Repeat it to yourself “I’m comparing myself again, I know this isn’t good for me and only makes me feel bad”. You are then in a position to make a choice, you either carry on with that thought and making yourself feel shitty or you decide to break out of the cycle.
By nature, you tend to notice the negatives in your own life, which as we have discussed only exasperates the feeling that everyone else’s life is perfect. Start to be more mindful of the good things in your life. Notice the things you love, your achievements, changes you have made, adversity you have overcome. Regular gratitude practice will change your mindset and get you in a good habit of knowing you have good things in your life too.
If you want to read more on how to practice gratitude and the benefits, read my blog 6 Habits of Happy People that you Need to Try.
Idealising someone is a fantasy. You are creating a picture in your mind of something that often is not real.
When you find yourself wishing you had someone else’s job, relationship or life. Remind yourself of the reality of life. Behind closed doors, couples do argue, jobs do come with stress and setbacks and people’s lives are not rainbows and butterflies 24/7. For as long as you ignore that, you are putting unrealistic expectations on yourself to live up to these standards.
If you are going to be on social media, you have to take responsibility for what that involves. That means every time you log on, you do so with the knowledge that what you are looking at is not 100% real. People are showing the fun and the good stuff, they are not necessarily lying, they are just not showing the rubbish side.
Be mindful of the celebrity culture you are living in. Don’t let it effect your mental health and your happiness. If you find that too hard, maybe take a look at where you are focusing your attention. If you are comparing yourself to the glamorous life that is the Kardashians and it makes you feel less then good. Maybe don’t follow them, don’t watch the show and don’t click on the articles.
Be open about with others about comparing yourself and how it impacts you. It will open up conversation and you might be surprised to see you are not at all on your own. It is so common. You are busy comparing yourself to others and whilst you won’t believe me, there are people comparing themselves to you. Let’s talk about it more. sharing and normalising feelings of discomfort can be really powerful.
They are six practices that have helped me overcome these destructive thoughts of comparison. The sooner you look around you and realise almost everyone is winging it, the sooner you will experience a sense of peace.
Comparing yourself is taking up your precious headspace and time. That time is best spent doing something useful that will give your life meaning. If you don’t break this cycle, you will be stuck in it because there is no end when it comes to comparing yourself.
Love yourself. Your life is the only life you can control (and even that, you can’t control all of) – focus your energy there, don’t look at others to establish your self-esteem. Look at you, look within you. Decide on your goals and what you want for yourself and go for it, create the kind of life that fulfills you and makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and crack on with your day.
Click HERE to join my Facebook Group for support, inspiration and tools on how to love yourself and live a Happier life.
Carly Ann xx