Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People with These 10 Mindset Hacks
When I was little, I was envious of kids who were older than me; in particular, I wanted to be Michelle Tanner on Full House. No, it wasn’t that I wanted to be Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who played Michelle, although I did want to become an actress once I got older. I wanted to be Michelle simply because she was a little bit older than me, which in my mind meant she had more freedom, responsibility, and worldly knowledge. What a glamorous life 7 year olds had!
Most kids have role models. Looking up to someone who’s further along than we are gives us something to aspire to; behaviors to imitate. However, somewhere along the way our inspiration turns into comparison. We see someone who’s achieved great things and we start criticizing ourselves and feeling less than. Why does this happen?
Perhaps as time passes and we are forced to acknowledge where we are relative to others, and this causes us to wonder what we did wrong, or what the winners did right. In a world of social media where we constantly see a highlight reel of everyone’s happiest, most successful moments, it’s natural to wonder, “Why am I having so much trouble? What did I do wrong?” Social media rarely captures the adversities and boring repetitive tasks it takes to get to greatness. When we see the success in the absence of challenge and luck that factored into the victory and compare it with our own journey, it often leads to a self-esteem spiral.
They say comparison is the thief of joy, and it’s true. Just when you start feeling good about your own progress, you hear about someone else achieving more and the goalposts move. It can make you feel like you are never enough. And for goals that require consistent, daily commitment? Comparison can work against long-term motivation.
So if comparison is unavoidable, what can we do to limit its impact on our well being and even use it for good? After all, surrounding yourself with people who set a high bar can push you in ways you didn’t think possible. The secret is to shift your mindset about how you compare yourself to others, as well as creating some clear boundaries around comparison.
Here are 10 ways you can shift your mindset when you find yourself comparing yourself to others.
1. Instead of looking outward, compare your current self to your past self.
You’re older than you were in the past, which means you have more experience. This gives you the gift of wisdom. Even if your health or financial situation might have once been better, now you have a broader perspective. Ponder how this experience has enriched your life and has made you a more interesting person.
2. Consider what matters most.
Do you really want your job title, your car, or your physique to be the most important thing about you? Consider that what matters most is WHO people are, not what they’ve done or what they have. What kind of person do you want to be? In the words of Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Strive to be the person who makes others feel better rather than the person with the best possessions, looks, or achievements.
3. Recognize your unique talents.
Some things come easier to some people than others. What things come most naturally to you? Music, math, physical fitness, visuals, social skills? Everything may not come easily to you, but remember the gifts you are blessed with. You have value, even if you need to work a bit harder than someone else in a given area.
4. Be selective about the content you consume.
If you feel bad after following certain social media accounts or other media, unfollow and unsubscribe from them. Just as inhaling toxic air hurts your body, taking in content that makes you feel bad hurts your emotional and mental well being. You have control over what you choose to read and see. If you have FOMO, just try limiting what you take in for a week. You’ll find that life still goes on!
5. Laser focus on your goals.
Get really clear about what you actually want. You only have so many hours in a day, and that means that you can’t chase every goal all the time. You have to choose which ones to prioritize, which means saying no to others. If your goal is to finish a 5k race, don’t compare yourself to someone who’s looking to get a personal record for their 20th race.
6. Distract yourself.
Is it really worth your mental energy to compare yourself to someone else? You are in charge of your own attention. To stop ruminating on the comparison, occupy your thoughts with something that makes you feel good. You know the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side”? Consider this instead: “the grass is greener where you water it.” Spend time watering the things that bring you joy instead of imagining how much better your life would be with other conditions. Make the most of where you are, right now.
7. Practice gratitude.
By focusing on what you do have, you’ll focus less on what you do not have. Having a regular gratitude practice has been shown to fight depression by shifting attention away from negative emotions like resentment and envy.
8. Reframe how you think about envy.
Envy is typically considered a negative trait, but it does have a benefit, too: it shows you what you really want. When you feel envious of someone, take a moment to recognize the emotion, and consider what it’s telling you about yourself, rather than the other person.
9. Appreciate the difference between beginner and expert.
When you see someone’s success, you don’t see the hours of work and energy that went into their moment of glory. Everyone faces obstacles along the way, but too often the headlines only capture the accomplishment. Jon Acuff says, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” and that’s key. If you’re a beginner, recognize that it takes time and patience to get to mastery, and you’ll be less discouraged when you find yourself in the comparison trap.
10. Celebrate the success of others.
The sign of breaking free of comparison is when you can be truly happy for someone else’s success without passing judgement. And that comes with practice. A good way to start building that support muscle is to encourage someone whose goals are completely different from your own - that way, you won’t feel tempted to compare yourself to them. As you start building someone else up, you not only learn how to be happy for others, you’ll also be able to take those positive messages and start cheering on YOURSELF.
Want to get away from comparison by supporting others while you work on your own goals? Start a free trial of Supporti, the accountability partner app, and start making daily progress with the help of a mutual support buddy!