How often do you compare yourself to others? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, you probably compare yourself to others more than you’d like to admit.
And, as you may have noticed (like I have), this comparison process never seems to feel good or work well.
I got an email a while back from a woman who suggested that I check out the website of another author/speaker. She said he reminded her of me and thought we should know each other.
I looked at his website and was very impressed. However, my Gremlin (that negative, critical voice in my head) started telling me how much better this guy was than me. “Look at him – he’s a stud: funny, good-looking, and super tech-savvy. His site is way cooler than yours, his approach is more hip, and he has this whole thing figured out much better than you do.”
After looking at his website and listening to my Gremlin, I felt jealous, inferior, and self-conscious.
Can you relate to this?
Sadly, many of us waste lots of time and energy comparing ourselves to others. Often we feel inferior to people based on our own self-judgment and/or our perception that they are better than we are.
The trap of comparison is that we’re stuck in a negative loop if we feel less than someone else or even better than another person. It’s actually the opposite side of the same coin in either case.
All of this is an insatiable ego game that ultimately sets us up to lose. Comparison to others leads to jealousy, anxiety, judgment, criticism, separation, loneliness, etc.
It’s normal for us to compare ourselves to others – especially given how most of our parents raised us, the competitive culture in which we live, and the way we engage with the world today through social media.
However, this comparison game can have severe consequences on our self-esteem, relationships, work, and overall life experience.
The irony is that almost everyone feels this way. We often erroneously think that if we just made more money, lost some weight, got a better job, moved into a nicer place, had more outward “success,” found the “perfect” partner, or whatever – then these insecure and unhealthy feelings of inferior/superior comparison would go away. Not true.
We can transform our comparison process into an experience of growth, connection, self-acceptance, and self-love – and ultimately let it go – by dealing with it directly and going to the source – us and how we relate to ourselves.
How to Stop Focusing on Comparison With Others
Here are some things you can do to unhook yourself from comparison with others.
1. Have empathy and compassion for yourself.
When we notice we’re comparing ourselves to other people and feeling either inferior or superior, it’s essential to have a deep sense of compassion and empathy for ourselves.
Comparison almost always comes from a place of insecurity and fear, not of deficiency or mal-intent. Judging ourselves as less than someone else or judging ourselves for going into comparison mode in the first place (which many of us do once we become aware of our tendency to do this) doesn’t help. This judgment causes more harm and keeps us stuck in the negative pattern.
2. Use comparison as an opportunity to accept, appreciate, and love yourself.
When comparison shows up, there is usually a lack of acceptance, appreciation, and love for ourselves.
Instead of feeling bad about what we think is wrong with us or critical of ourselves for being judgmental in the first place, what if we took this as a cue to take care of and nurture ourselves in an authentic way.
3. Be willing to admit your jealousy.
One of the best ways to release something is to admit and own it. While this can be a little scary and vulnerable to do, when we have the courage to admit our jealousy, we can own it in a liberating way to both other people and us. Acknowledging that we feel jealous of another person’s success, talent, accomplishment, or quality is a great way to let go of it and remove the barrier we may feel with that person or experience.
If you find yourself jealous of someone you don’t know (like a celebrity or just someone you haven’t met personally), you can acknowledge these feelings to someone close to you or even in a meditation with an image of that actual person.
4. Acknowledge the people you compare yourself to.
Another great way to break through the negative impact of comparison to others is to reach out to them with some genuine appreciation.
After a few minutes of feeling bad about myself, I reached out to the guy whose website I looked at, acknowledged him for his excellent work, and asked if we could connect. It felt good and liberating to do that.
The more excited we’re willing to get for other people’s success, talents, and experiences – the more likely we are to manifest positive feelings and outcomes in our lives. There is not a finite amount of success or fulfillment – and when we acknowledge people we compare ourselves to, we remind ourselves that there is more than enough to go around and that we’re capable of experiencing and manifesting wonderful things in our own lives too.
How often do you compare yourself to others? How does this impact your life, relationships, and sense of yourself? What can you do to let go of this habit and be more loving, accepting, and appreciative of yourself? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more in the comments below.
Mike Robbins is the author of five books, including his latest, We’re All in This Together: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging. He’s a thought leader and sought-after speaker whose clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, Genentech, the Oakland A’s, and many others.
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P.S. Are you inside my head? Scary sometimes!
So very true! Our internal thought-processes are reflected in near-imperceptible “leakage cues” that give others subconscious directions for how we expect to be treated. Changing your thought-process instructs others to treat us better. Voila! Positive outlook=positive outcome. I’ve also heard “act the way you want to feel.”
This is a major issue for me which comes through especially in my golf game. Someone else always seems to be better, hot the ball further and sometimes it discourages me. As I grow and learn however I know that no-one truly ‘has it all’. There is a law of compensation. No-one has everything and no-one has nothing. I did think Tiger Woods was the exception to this prior to the car accident and revelations but how wrong was that. Anyway, appreciate what you have and enjoy what you do. 🙂
I find myself comparing myself with others a lot. I don’t earn a lot of money but I love what I do, but I often look at those around me that are my age or that I even feel that I am more talented than and see the amount of money they are making and the things they are doing, the energy they have compared to me…and I get envious and feel down on myself. I’m learning not to compare, to be grateful that I love what I do (work with children) and to be happy for the other person that their life is working out the way they had hoped. My life is working out in a way that has meaning to me, I found that I am not one who needs a lot of things. I do like to shop, I do like to buy nice things, I would like to own a bigger home or a nicer car…but I believe those things will come if they are meant to as long as I do what I love, rather than be trapped in a cubicle as I once was and hated. Those material things aren’t the important things, not like I used to believe they were. The important thing is I have a loving husband and family and I do what I love. 🙂
Mary R. says
Wow, that makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing, Mike!
“The trap of comparison”! What a wonderful title! Indeed, I find myself comparing to others very often.And guess what? It doesn`t make me feel better!
Thank you so much for this article, Mike. Very inspiring, as always! 🙂