Overcoming the Comparison Game- How to Overcome Comparison
We all do it right?
Whether we are on our phones scrolling through social media, or in the gym, or at school or a job, we all look at someone and think about how much we love the way they look, or they are so lucky to have all the things, the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect personality. What starts off as admiration spirals into envy and before you know it you feel sick to your stomach thinking about if only you could have what they have, or do what they do, or even be them, then you would be happy.
This may be an extreme version, but even if you play it down sometimes after you find yourself in the comparison game you don’t feel your best.
So what do we all do?
We say we are going to stop, we know comparison isn’t good right? So we won’t keep doing it, we won’t let comparison affect our positivity and life of happiness.
Simply, sometimes in our lives, we compare ourselves to others and afterward we feel miserable. We know comparing ourselves to others is bad and we try to stop, think more positive, and try hard to love ourselves more.
But, what ends up really happening?
We keep doing it!
Ugh, what is wrong with us right?
Everyone finds himself or herself in comparison from time to time. In all honesty, you can’t live life without comparison. No matter hard you try not to, comparison is something we all do.
So instead of trying to avoid something that is going to happen regardless of how hard we try not to, instead of spending wasted effort on attempting to not compare yourself to others, let’s think about ways we can work through comparison.
You may not be able to get rid of it or hit the mute button, but you can most certainly turn down its volume.
So today I am going to share five tips to redirect your mind from going down the rabbit hole of the comparison game.
1.) Take them off the pedestal.
When we find ourselves in that moment where we are admiring someone else, when we are filled with what they have and what we lack, we start to jump faster and faster into all their perfections. They have the perfect life.
We can’t see that there is anything wrong with them.
However, you and I both know outside of that moment that they are not perfect. Even if we don’t know them, that is a message within itself, you may not know what struggles, pain, or mistakes they are hiding behind that smile. We all know what it is like to put on a smile, a brave face, even when we feel like crying on the inside.
Don’t put that expectation of being perfect on them; you wouldn’t want it placed on you.
Secondly, have you ever told someone how much you admire them? Notice their response. Most people will tell you all the hard work that went into how they got to where they are, all the mistakes they made, how many lessons they had to learn the hard way. They are full of knowledge, they are wise and can offer guidance because they went through tough times. You are admiring them after their painful journey and you are admiring them in a moment where they are putting on a smile and socializing with others, not when they had a long day and five things went wrong or they didn’t get anything done let alone leave the house. People are skilled or informative or look absolutely gorgeous because they practiced every day for years or said an uneducated remark and had someone correct them or they spent two hours that morning in the bathroom getting ready. Take this post for example; I am able to write about comparison because I’ve suffered through the pain of what it feels like to go down the rabbit hole of comparing myself to others. So, that person you have high up on a pedestal has worked hard to be where they are. So take them off the pedestal, they are human too.
2.) Recognize your insecurities.
When people compare themselves to others more often than not there is something more going on. In all honesty, it is our insecurities. We are looking at other people and what they have because we are unhappy with ourselves and what we lack. Having insecurities is not a bad thing, it is normal and everyone has them, what is unhealthy is letting your insecurities consume you.
What you need to understand about insecurities is, like comparison, you can’t live a life without them. Again, like comparison, you can learn to turn down their negative intensity.
Taking time in the moment when you are comparing yourself to others to understand that you are feeling insecure about what you are unhappy about can allow you to see what is really going on and then move forward to say, “Okay, right now I feel unhappy about this (or let’s be honest, you HATE this)” and once you can admit your insecurities you can overcome them. We wrote a post on accepting your imperfections and explain how you can come to peace with your flaws, read our post How to accept being messy, complicated, and afraid and still show up for your life to learn more about how you can work through your insecurities.
3.) Stop the ‘I would’ train in its tracks.
In that moment when we are looking at someone else and those thoughts are running through our heads and we are thinking about all that they have that we want, we find ourselves taking things further and further. The next phase we get to when we go down that rabbit hole is, “If I had [what they have], then I would be [happier, loved, envied].” We create these statements that if only we had what they do THEN we would be happier. Right now you may or may not be so unhappy with your life that you tell yourself that the only way you can be happy is if you had their perfect life, but what you are really doing is putting your value and your happiness into an all or nothing box. Thinking all or nothing is a mindset and it is temporary, but it can also consume you if you let it. The best way to get out of an all or nothing mindset is to remember examples in which the all or nothing statement isn’t true.
What do we mean by that?
Let’s say you don’t have the perfect job, are you really going to be unhappy for the rest of your life? Do you think everyone in the world has the perfect job and do you think everyone who doesn’t isn’t happy? No, it’s not true. Let’s talk about looks. Do you think everyone in the world has perfect hair? No. Do you think all those people who don’t have perfect hair are unhappy their whole life? No. Why is the answer no? Because there is more to it. You may have bad hair, but you could be completely loved just the way you are, have a supportive loving family and an incredibly fulfilling career. All or nothing eliminates other factors and you can’t see the whole picture by looking at only one piece to the puzzle right?
So the next time you find yourself thinking, “ugh I would be so much happier if I was them, or why I can’t I be perfect like they are?” remember the “perfect and happy life” isn’t ALL about that ‘one thing.’
This is sort of my “stop” word in my head. Whenever I am comparing myself to others and I notice I start to make myself feel really low, I always hear this word pop into my head, Irrelevant.
Comparing myself to another person is completely irrelevant to me and my life.
As women, have you ever talked about a problem with a guy and his response is, “what do you care, it has nothing to do with you?”
For the longest time, I always thought guys had this superpower to mind their own business. How they could just not care about what other people thought or were doing blew my mind. Now I know, it is NOT a guy thing, but a mindset. Not all guys think like this and yes some women do.
The mindset is this: the realization that someone else’s life has nothing to do with yours; their life is irrelevant to you.
Irrelevant is my way of taking my head out of the clouds and bringing my feet back on the ground and recognizing two things. One, I will never be them. There is no magic in the world that can physically morph me into that person. Two, I don’t want their life as much as I think I do.
The most important message to know here is: every person in this world is his or her own individual person. NOT one single person can ever be another.
People may have similarities, but even two people who experience the exact same moment will have completely different takeaways, different opinions, different perspectives, different trauma. Each person has their own set of values, dreams, and personality. So even if you had what they had, you would appreciate, hate, abuse, care for things in a completely different way. If you were them you wouldn’t love the way you do, you wouldn’t appreciate things the same way, you may not even appreciate things at all if you were a different person.
This thought process really grounds me into realizing I am more content with my life than I realize. So the next time you find yourself in the moment of comparison what words come to your mind, find one that really resonates with you and sounds like your unique voice because it will have the most impact that way and, finally, remember that they are their own person BUT so are YOU…and that is something to be grateful for.
5.) Comparison is a moment NOT a lifestyle.
As I said above, you can’t live a life without comparison. It will forever pop in and out of your life whether you want it to or not, but that’s just it! Comparison isn’t here to stay 24/7 every day until the end of time.
Because comparison is a moment, it comes and it goes.
Dreading comparison, hating it, and wishing you never suffer from it is only prolonging the negativity. If you let it come, work through it, and let it pass, you won’t be taking a moment that last a few minutes into hours or weeks or however long you are letting it add stress to your life.
So the next time you find yourself getting riled up in the comparison game take a deep breath and remember this is just a moment and it is NOT a representation of who you are or the value of your life.
Bonus tip: My last little tidbit I wanted to share when it comes to overcoming the comparison game is to take away the power comparison has over you. Have you ever heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy”?
Chuck it out the window.
This quote is only putting negativity into your mind that comparison is the reason you are unhappy with your life. You’re only giving comparison more power.
It is also a false statement.
Let’s be honest, you’re telling me as long as you have comparison in your life you can’t have ANY joy in your life?
That is an unrealistic mindset.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that you don’t agree with me. So you are telling me that there’s never been a moment in your life that you felt sad, angry, hurt, and at the same time happy, grateful, and full of love?
You can have a million emotions in one moment and billions in a lifetime. Your life will be filled with comparison AND joy, it is not an either-or situation.
Finally, I will leave you on this note.
A lot of us feel powerless like we aren’t in control of our thoughts or that sick to our stomach feeling especially when we are in that moment thinking about ourselves in such a hurtful way but know this…
You can either go down that rabbit hole or you can take a moment to realize you are in control and which path you are going down. Tell yourself, “life is hard enough as it is- so today, be a little more kind to yourself and take the route that will leave you feeling better” and remember these steps to help guide you. Know that it takes an act of grace towards yourself to get through a moment that won’t last forever.