Suffering from comparison-itis? Here's how to overcome it.
There you are, plugging along on a regular old day, attending to the work task in front of you. Maybe you’re finally progressing on a daunting assignment. Maybe you’re in a focused flow state with a project that's due soon. Either way, you’re feeling generally good about your work and progress.
And then you do it.
You compare yourself to a friend or colleague who has more influence, “juice,” salary or [fill in the blank] than you.
And now you feel...deflated.
Compare and Despair
It’s easy to compare ourselves to others, and it can sometimes be a good thing: we might glean a new way to approach our work, or be inspired to take a risk.
But for the most part, comparison doesn’t leave us feeling good. Instead, it often robs us of feeling proud of our gifts. And here's the thing: the comparisons that we get hooked on—that leave us feeling crappy—are big energy vampires that we can’t afford to indulge.
Next time you’re tempted to compare yourself to someone else, consider these alternatives. They'll invigorate you, boost your confidence, and help you get back on track.
Quick Confidence Tips to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others:
Embodied: Physically remove yourself from triggering comparisons. Social comparison bias is when we make "upward comparisons" where we compare ourselves to others who seem better off than us — and it’s been shown to lead to self-destructive behavior. Negative coping skills can range from increased substance use, eating disorders, alcoholism, and more. But here's the great news: you can actively limit your exposure to images or social media feeds that make you feel lousy. So, be cautious of your use! Unfollow or unsubscribe from people that make you feel badly, and don't look at social media sites when you are already feeling low. You can also audit who you follow so that you're seeing posts that invigorate and inspire you. Outside of reducing the number of people you follow, think about taking breaks from social media or deleting certain apps from your phone!
Interpersonal: Include, rather than judge and compare. Sometimes when I’m most envious of someone else’s success, I realize that at the heart of that feeling is respect and admiration. I may admire the chance someone took on their idea, their gumption to launch a new product or their success at attracting a certain type of client. Next time you feel lacking next to someone else, think about how you could learn from them. Invite them to coffee or send them a short email. Explain that you admire their ability to [fill in the blank] and that you’d love to learn how they honed their skills. Just as you want to be recognized for your unique talents, others do as well. If they are too busy to give you their time, do your own research project on their career milestones so you can learn from their journey.
Mindset: Repeat “They Have Their Story, I Have Mine…” Blogger Justin Zoradi offers up this brilliant advice, and I’ve used it many times. Our lives don’t progress like swim lanes at the Olympics, where we’re competing on a clock and only one winner can emerge. Our lives bob, weave, and zigzag at different rates. When you realize this, comparing yourself to others seems a) impossible, and b) ridiculous! So remind yourself "There is no comparison," and "I'm working on becoming the best version of me." Lastly, when you're feeling envious and wishing you had someone else's success, you can ask yourself: Would I really want to trade places with that person if I had to take all their baggage, too?!
Often we undervalue what we bring to the table and overvalue what someone else brings. Last time I checked, no one wants to feel belittled or minimized. But that’s exactly what results when you regularly compare yourself to others. As the French proverb says, “To compare is not to prove.”
When do you measure yourself most against others? How do you let go of the comparisons? Let me know in the comments! I definitely want to learn from you.