Everyone compares themselves to others sometimes.
Our brains naturally have a tendency to make comparisons. We are often preoccupied with ourselves. Therefore, our brains try to weigh our own traits against those of others.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. It is just the way that our brains are. If we are able to keep it in check, then it’s just a regular part of life.
However, all too often, we can’t keep it in check. In comparing ourselves to others, we see ourselves as falling short. Therefore, we struggle with self-esteem. This can even contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Comparing Yourself to Others on Social Media
Twenty-first-century media has made it even more common that we compare ourselves with others. After all, we consistently put ourselves out there on the Internet for the world to see.
We know, from their “likes” or comments, that others have some judgment of us. We want to measure up, so we often gauge our social worthiness by comparing ourselves to others online.
Of course, we know that everyone online is trying to put their best foot forward. That beautifully decorated home is nice to aspire to. However, that single snapshot isn’t what the real human being’s house looks like every day of the year.
Photo filters and lighting make people look less blemished than they are. Still, we compare our real lives to their ideal ones, and we often feel like we aren’t “good enough.”
Society Encourages These Comparisons
It isn’t just social media that plays a role in the way we compare ourselves to others. All media in our society tends to promote this.
We celebrate celebrities and the seeming perfection of their lives. Simultaneously, we can’t wait for gossip about their downfall. After all, it makes us feel like they’re a little bit more flawed like us.
We constantly hear about the “Top 30 Under 30” and the prodigies and the geniuses of the world. Ideally, we would aspire to be our own best selves, but society encourages us to make these comparisons.
Be Gentle with Yourself
The first thing to do is to recognize how prevalent this problem is. You are not the only person who is struggling with comparing yourself to others.
We all look to one another to gauge how we are doing in our own lives. Therefore, don’t beat yourself up for having this challenge.
In fact, focus your energy on being increasingly more gentle with yourself at all times. When you notice that you are comparing yourself unfavorably to others, shift into a space of self-compassion.
Acknowledge that you feel some envy, insecurity, or pain. Then, point out to yourself something that is great about you.
Key Tricks to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
In addition to awareness and self-kindness, here are some things that you can practice:
• Be of service to others; focus on what you can offer instead of making comparisons.
• Brainstorm a list of the many things that are great about you.
• Celebrate others. Write letters to people sharing what you love about them.
• Have gratitude; focus on what you have instead of what you want.
• Make a scrapbook of your accomplishments, successes, and life joys.
• Notice what makes you jealous and use that to make goals instead of comparisons.
• Practice meditation, prayer, mindfulness, or another similar daily ritual.
• Set goals. Meet them. Celebrate them.
• Tune in to your true values in life and let the little things go.
Take the first step…
If you feel like you are struggling with comparing yourself to others, I would like to help you develop more self-compassion and higher self-esteem. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT