Comparison is the thief of joy~ Theodore Roosevelt
The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. If you find that you are comparing yourself to others, you are not alone. Comparison to others can hinder our self-confidence and can impact the joy in our lives.
There is an infinite number of categories upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to. Once we begin down that road, we never find an end.
As a business owner I’ve found myself comparing myself to others or looking outside of myself for inspiration to how to do it. Or I have questioned how I should be, do or not do. I finally had to stop. It was taking me further from who I truly am, who I want to be and the gifts I have to share with the world.
Here’s the thing, comparison is often unfair. We compare ourself to people’s greatest success or their “highlight real” on social media. You are too unique to compare fairly. Your gifts, successes, contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
Comparison puts focus on others. You can change one life—yours. But when we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other people’s lives rather than our own. We are looking externally for the answers instead of inside and finding our own.
So, what to do if you find yourself in the comparison cycle:
1) Get quiet and listen to your own inner guidance. It’s there ready to be heard. Allow yourself time everyday to get quiet, tune in without the distractions and listen. This could be meditation, spending time in nature, journaling, etc.
2) Unfollow the people/peers that you find yourself comparing to. Take a break and choose yourself. Take a pause from social media scrolling or focus on the things that light you up.
3) Remind yourself of your own successes. You have a unique perspective, unique experiences and gifts. You have the capacity to love, serve, and contribute. You have everything you need to accomplish good in your section of the world. Become aware of your successes and use this motivation to pursue more of what you want.
4) Compare with yourself. We can strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves—not only for our own selves, but for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Commit to growing a little bit each day. Learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.
5) Remind yourself nobody is perfect. While focusing on the negatives is rarely as helpful as focusing on the positives, there is important space to be found remembering that nobody is perfect and nobody is living a painless life. Triumph requires an obstacle to be overcome. And everybody is suffering through their own, whether you are close enough to know it or not.
6) Find inspiration without comparison. Comparing our lives with others can bring us down, but finding inspiration and learning from others is entirely wise. Humbly ask questions of the people you admire or read biographies as inspiration. But if comparison is a consistent tendency in your life, notice which attitudes prompt positive change and which result in negative influence.
7) Pursue the greater things in life. Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else and remove yourself entirely from society’s definition of success.
There is so much freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort. You get to determine what it means to be successful for you and chances are it will look different than someone else’s success.
It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in comparison, especially with social media. I see many posts people sharing they are living their best life and doing amazing things with beautiful photos. I've shared mine too. These things are awesome, however sometimes we don’t also see the full story. We compare to the highlight real and can begin to question and doubt ourself.
I definitely remember a time in my life of not believing in myself and remnants of that can still creep up if I am not aware. What I have learned, is that I do not have to bend and twist myself to fit an arbitrary mold. I do not have to be smarter or prettier, less sensitive or more capable than I already am.
I am gifted and I matter, and so do you. We all have our unique gifts and talents.
We celebrate the people doing extraordinary things– changing the world in big ways (and rightly so!). We put people on pedestals and hold them up as examples of what might be. As a result, some of us live with intense shame that we will never measure up and maybe we don’t even want to!
Self-awareness can create self-compassion and it finally occurred to me that I could choose to embrace myself as enough. I could shake off the shackles of comparison, shame, and perfectionism and refuse to hold myself up to an impossible standard. I decided in all of my imperfections I am enough.
Still, it’s a daily, conscious choice to love all my beautiful and cracked bits. To do the work to heal, to not get caught up in the comparison game, to let go of feeling the need to be “perfect” and being all together, all the time. So freeing.
Deciding I am enough makes space for me to do step out and offer my gifts so that I can do the work I feel called to. Deciding I am enough allows me to show up with curiosity and joy and step fully present into my imperfect and beautiful life.
Finally deciding I am good enough means instead of hiding, I take personal responsibility and use my words and life to help build the world I want to live in. I can impact the world in my own way with my own gifts.
Because millions of ordinary people intent on building and creating, small step by small step, will undoubtedly change and impact the world.
When I feel fear or the unworthiness or stories of not being good enough surface again – I remind myself that I am rooted in the truth that I do not have to pay rent for the space I take up in this world. I have nothing to prove.
And what happens is that this freedom to just be me permits me to freely give. This freedom creates space for joyful possibility. This freedom makes me determined to reach out my hand and lift up as many other weary people as I am able and make a safe space for them to realize they deserve to be here too.
I use my gifts to impact the world. I want you to use your gifts too.
If we struggle or fall, if people don’t like what we offer, if sometimes we run right back to hide out under the covers for a little while, this does not disqualify us from life. If we take two steps forward and another one back, and we cannot always see how we make any difference at all, still we offer up our voices or ask for help…. but we do not quit.
Maybe it is in being real and imperfect and showing up anyways that we offer hope and encouragement to each other and this is, perhaps, one of the most extravagant gifts of all.
Life and Leadership Coach, Licensed Counselor, outdoor enthusiast, yoga lover and passionate about wellness.