Comparison is the thief of joy

Like most of us, I’m not immune to comparing myself to others and I wondered if this was even a topic I could talk about with some kind of credibility. However I don’t fall into the comparison trap nearly as much as I used to, and when I do find myself thinking that way I’m able to get myself out of it pretty quick because I’ve developed personal strategies for managing it. It’s those strategies I’m going to share today. Some of these may work for you or they may not, but one over arching thing I would say that really helps is working on your self love and appreciation. Some of these tips send you in the right direction with that, but stay tuned as I have a post, and possibly more to come on the topic of self love.

Of course, some comparison can be a positive thing, especially when it motivates us and reminds us we can achieve the same thing. However, negative comparison issues seem to have worsened with the arrival of social media internet and I know that blogs have their role in this as well. The more people I speak to personally and online, it has been highlighted that is could be a serious issue brewing for a lot of us which is why we all need to make the time to get our heads around this stuff! So here are my top tried and tested tips for stopping comparing yourself to others. 

Analyse it

Whenever you feel like you are caught in that comparison trap, or even feeling a bit jealous, think about the ‘why’. A huge turning point for me was understanding that the issue I had was not with the person / people I was comparing myself to, rather it was just a reflection of my own issues. Once I got my head around that I was able to look at the feelings more objectively and understand myself better. Sometimes wants and needs are buried deep down and rather than us really thinking about them, they pop up as those feelings of comparison and jealously. For example if you are comparing yourself to that person on Instagram with the perfectly put together life and beautiful kids who seems to do loads of family activities, perhaps what you are seeking deep down is more quality time with your family and the ability to be better organised? That might not always be the case as often it can be societal pressures that might seem invisible to us that are driving our jealously. For example, do you really want to be a slender size 8 or is that an ideal that’s been placed in your head because of societies bull shit? Rather than seeing the comparison or jealously issues as a negative, turn it into a positive way of highlighting your own desires or uncovering unconscious and irrelevant societal pressures so that you can then get rid of them and start and work towards your true goals…

Have your own goals and aspirations

Something that has been hugely helpful for me is connecting to what I really want. Once I started analysing my feelings and uncovering genuine desires and identifying what was due to other influences, I’ve really been able to reduce how often I feel comparison issues. Just as I said in my On being your own version of success post, I reconnected with what happiness is for me and using that as a driver, I’ve been able to let a lot of other stuff go. From understanding my own desires and what success and happiness actually looks like for me, I’ve been able to set myself goals to bring myself closer to that. Whenever I feel that familiar feeling of comparison, I look at my list and remind myself of my progress towards what I really want. More often than not the issue I’d been getting hung up on isn’t even something I want! It’s quite scary being really honest with yourself about what you want, and what I realised was although my happiness and success is a relatively simple set of desires, I still do have some big things I’d like to work towards, some of which I just don’t know are possible or not. But I love that quote, aim for the moon, even if you fail you’ll land upon the stars, and that is what I intend to do!

Celebrate effort as well as achievement 

Being goal orientated is great, but sometimes that can drag us into the comparison trap even further. How often have you worked really hard with your healthy eating and exercise to find that a friend has lost twice as much weight as you did that week? It leaves you feeling pretty crappy, and you end up completely forgetting about the effort you made. Appreciating the effort you make and understanding and accepting that it may produce different results for you than it does for others, as much as achieving the goal itself, can be helpful in not getting caught up with how other people are doing.

Stop exposing yourself to things / people / images etc that make you feel like crap

So many people, myself included, struggle with this one, particularly online. Come on people, if you are reading a blog or following someone on social media and seeing their stuff makes you feel like shite then stop following them! Remember this isn’t about the person in question, it’s about how your own issues are reflected back onto yourself. By unfollowing someone you aren’t being a bitch to them, it’s just about removing something that is a negative in your life and you have no reason to feel bad about that. As long as you’ve identified what it is that is making you feel like that in line with my first tip, leave behind the stuff you don’t need. You might find that in time you can start reading that blog again and feel completely differently once you have connected to your true desires. Recently I’ve un-followed a load of ‘fitspiration’ Pinterest and Instagram accounts, and it was nothing against the people running them, I just recognised they weren’t producing anything positive for me.

It also goes without saying to remind yourself that whatever you see online is always going to be an edited version of reality. As much as I am honest and open about things I have going on, what I’m eating etc, my blog is not me 24/7 because that would be impossible. I’m not blogging about the times James and I have a falling out, or posting pictures of my little garden that hasn’t been weeded in over a month and looks like a miniature jungle. I’m not doing that consciously or to be deceptive (let’s face it I tend to share plenty of stuff that would be deemed ‘negative’ sometimes), it’s just natural to focus on the good / pretty / positive stuff as I know most other people do when sharing their lives online. Some do share things in a more orchestrated (dare I say deceptive) way and that’s always something to bear in mind when you compare yourself to other people.

Surround yourself with positives that reinforce feeling good about yourself

I am such a huge fan of this! I’ve raved a lot about how much I love inspiration boards and I’ve been using them for what feels like forever. If you are a visual person like me, creating an inspiration board filled with positive images can be so helpful. Obviously Pinterest is fabulous and you can create secret boards that are just for you. I have one called ‘Fabulous Me’ full of images that remind myself how fabulous I am ;-) I also like making collages in photoshop and using them as my computer desk top background or even better, creating a physical one. 

Inspiration board

Going further than the inspiration board, surrounding yourself with positives might also be about the people in your life. When I do find myself falling into the comparison trap I have James and my friends there to firmly pull me right back out again. When I’ve been feeling bad about my pregnant body and comparing it to other pregnant bodies, James and my best friends have been so incredible in giving me the dose of reality and perspective I’ve needed!

Constantly remind yourself of the Uniquely Healthy golden rules!

We are all different and wonderfully unique. What works for one person does not always work for another. We all have different bodies, natural abilities and personalities as well as unique strengths and weaknesses. Work with your own gifts, which you all have, and revel in your awesomeness!

How often do you find yourself comparing yourself to others? Do you find it destructive or positive? Any other tips you’d like to add?

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