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Comparisonitis – is there a cure?

One of the easiest ways to feel bad about yourself is to compare yourself or your life, to other people.

It’s such a slippery slope.

You probably know that already. You probably know it’s never a great idea to compare yourself to others.

Yet, it’s easier said than done to stop doing it.

I’m noticing it more and more recently, both in client sessions and in the wider world. It got me wondering why it’s happening on such a scale and I came to the conclusion that it’s got a lot to do with the current situation.

Is it because people are currently feeling frustrated and looking for distractions, is it because people are feeling heightened anxiety?

Well yes, I think all of those things could definitely play a part.

But I get the feeling right now it’s a lot to do with the fact that we are seeing more of people’s ‘behind the scenes’ lives.

Whilst we are limited to how much we can see our colleagues, family and friends in 'real' life, we can see a lot more in our virtual Zoom lives.

And we may never have had access to some of those people’s living space before.

We can suddenly see that people in our world may have fabulous kitchens or perhaps an amazing dedicated work or exercise space.

We can see the incredible bread they are baking, the decluttering and the DIY projects they have undertaken and the fabulous lamp sitting in the corner.

In the celebrity world, people who perhaps usually take their selfies in a studio or film set, are now relaxing on the most comfy sofas in beautiful houses with the most gorgeous children and pets.

And based on all of these images, all of their lives look pretty good – it looks like they’ve got life sorted.

Except that is just our perspective – we have no idea how anybody is feeling or how their lives really are.

We then become over-focused on all the parts of our own life that we don’t like and it’s a total waste of our energy.

We get used to comparing ourselves to others from a very young age and it probably started out with something like measuring who was tallest, who was the fastest runner in the playground, who could draw the best picture.

Teachers at school compared us to other pupils in the hope that it would encourage us to pull our socks up, parents compared us to siblings or other children and as a result we have become used to using other people as a yardstick for what is going on in our own lives.

If this post resonates with you and you find that you are making negative comparisons, these are the Top 10 tips that I would recommend:

Be grateful for what you have

If you focus on what you don’t have, you will never have enough of anything.

Shift your focus to being grateful for everything that you do have and you can feel better pretty quickly.

Accept where you are right now

Make peace with where you are, instead of trying to fight it.

You are not behind, you are exactly where you need to be but where you are now isn’t going to be the whole story.

What matters is your mindset, attitude, and where you’re going.

Accept who you are right now

Make peace with who you are, instead of trying to fight it.

What you bring to the table is unique - maybe you aren’t perfect, but guess what nobody is – perfect does not exist.

As the mantra goes we are all “perfectly imperfect”.

Time is precious

Don’t waste time looking at other people’s lives – before you know it hours have gone by and if you are spending it scrolling through social media, you are going to feel pretty dissatisfied.

Social media can be a great source of inspiration, but you should always be in control and if you are triggered by what you are reading then it’s time for a social media detox.

You could be using that precious time to start to make your own plans and decisions, the ones that will head you in the right direction for the kind of life you really want.

Role Models

Not all comparisons are negative.

If you are looking at people’s achievements and lifestyle in a positive and constructive way, that’s a good thing.

We often focus on people’s success but this may have come from years of behind the scenes preparation and working hard, long hours.

If they are doing something in their life that interests or resonates with you, then reach out to them or research them and find out how they got started.

Turn comparison into inspiration.

Know that you are good enough

Sometimes we have days where we don’t think we are good enough, we feel we are going to be found out as imposters who aren’t up to the job.

We forget just how much we are capable of, how much we have already achieved and this all culminates in low self-worth and affects our confidence.

And it’s on those days that we often end up comparing ourselves to others.

Tell yourself regularly that you are good enough and also refer to Tip No 9.

Be a good friend to yourself

Our inner voices can be pretty mean and we tell ourselves all kinds of harmful rubbish.

Be kind to yourself, look after yourself, give yourself regular motivational talks and if the comparison voice comes up, don’t join in.

Also, if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

Be happy for other people

We know there is no need to compare ourselves to other people or the work that they do.

But it is a great idea to acknowledge whatever they are doing and compliment them on their work and achievements.

Be glad for them and tell them so – you will feel good for having told them and they will feel good too.

So it's a win-win.

You need a little pick me up

I’m not talking about a cheeky cocktail, I am talking about you putting together a notebook and listing everything that is good about you.

List as many things that you can think of and include cards or emails that may have nice words written about you.

Could be as simple as “I make a great lasagne” or it could be somebody telling you that you really helped them as you are such a good listener.

Include things that you personally feel are good about yourself, things that friends, colleagues, neighbours and the family may say about you and keep adding to it over the years.

This is going to be the go to book that you read on the days when you don’t feel as happy/confident/sure about yourself – basically whenever you need to feel good about yourself.

It’s not bragging to do this, you are going to be the only person that reads it and it’s the ultimate Pick Me Up, just for you.

Maybe you could start off a notebook for somebody else that you know is struggling?

Don’t say should

When looking at others, how many times have you said something like “I should be doing that”, “I should have got that job”, “I should look like that” - you get the picture.

Comparison makes you ‘should’ all over the place and all it does is focus on what is lacking in your life.

Change the words you use and banish ‘should’. Maybe use ‘want’ instead? “I want to do that”,“I want to get that job” – that all feels so much more positive and forward thinking, don’t you think?

Bottom line is comparisons can start out as fairly innocent but they can become more obsessive and the more we compare ourselves to others, the less we feel comfortable with ourselves.

If this is something that you are noticing in your life and would like some help and support to make some changes, please get in touch.


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