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.
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.
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?
Some great tips, Laura and I think that as someone who knows how it feels to be in the comparison trap you are more qualified to talk about the topic, especially as you know what works for you. This is something I’ve always struggled with – I stopped buying & reading ‘girly’ mags like cosmo as they made me feel i wasn’t thin enough/fashionable enough/ sexually experienced enough (as you say, you can find yourself being jealous of things you don’t actually want!) etc. Removing them definitely helped, although I do always like a good read if I see one at a friend’s house!
I find that when I do anything for charities, especially when it’s in my own city, it reminds me just how much I have and how thankful I am. I am currently falling into the job comparison trap as people I went to school/uni with are doing much more exciting things than me. But I have a wonderful husband, good health and a fantastic family – everything else is surely a bonus!
I was just the same with magazines, I only get them occasionally and never cosmo if I’m honest! I definitely agree there’s something about doing charitable work that throws everything into perspective. Ultimately with the job thing I think it’s about wondering just how happy those guys are, sometimes what sounds exciting to us might be stress hell for them unfortunately!
And this is why you are so brilliant! I think comparison can be both good and bad – sometimes I compares myself to someone else and find that we are both struggling with the same thing which can be very comforting but then sometimes it goes the opposite way and this can be extremely detrimental. Personally, I’ve improved a lot in this area recently and I think ultimately it all comes down to being comfortable in your own skin – self-love, self-worth and self-appreciation. Recognise your strengths!
Thanks Pip :-) Totally agree that self love and self worth are massive factors in this!
Such important points Laura. I stopped buying “girly” magazines years ago as for one they just seemed repetitive, but also they would make me feel self conscious about things I had never thought of. I still remember seeing one article about how to hide your “mashed potato knees”- I mean, what even is that? I decided I didn’t want to know- my knees are just fine thank you very much!
OMG mashed potato knees? I agree, I only get certain girly mags on occasion, we don’t need to be worrying about stuff like that!
Such good wisdom – it’s so easy to compare yourself to everyone on Pinterest or Instagram and think you are missing out in some perfect life where as the fact is all of our lives are a bit ( or a lot ) messy and that often is what makes them beautiful .
I love what you say about looking deeper to the un met need you that’s being highlighted in the comparison and about finding your own version of success.
And so often we just need to get over ourselves, focus on all the amazing blessing of life and focus on serving others well in all areas of life instead of how far or not we have come.
I think I need to unfollow some wonderful people I think in order to protect my heart, so thanks for the inspiration!
I couldn’t agree more, I think it’s important to recognise that those ‘imperfections’ are often what makes things exciting and interesting. Actually you’ve highlighted something there as well about being of service to others, I think when you can focus on that it can help as well :-) Hope you embrace the unfollow!
Laura – thank you so much for this post. It resonated with me greatly! I can find myself stuck in a comparison trap more often than I would like to admit. The advice you have written above is bloody fantastic – thank you <3
Something I always do is kindly but firmly remind myself we are all different and on different journeys :)
Also – Love the quote "aim for the moon, even if you fail you’ll land upon the stars" – My headteacher always used to say that!
Thanks Lauren! So glad that this post resonated with you! That’s such a helpful thing I think, I know it helps me when I remember that we all have our own paths to follow :-)
I’m massively guilty of the comparison trap – not as bad as I used to be but it still creeps up! I’ve thought about it a lot lately, and one thing that you mentioned really helped: to work out what *my* goals are and not compare them to what others are doing.
I also love your point about removing yourself from the bad influences – for me it was a person in my life that I needed to be around less – not easy but very worth doing.
Love your desk so much!
I think that’s the hardest, we all have people in our life that we might love and care about, but when we can see that they aren’t a positive thing in our lives I do think it’s best to gently let that person go.
Brilliant post again! I look forward to each one as much as the previous! On another note, I have been meaning to ask, where did you get your turquoise trolley with shelves? So pretty and a prefect little organiser! Thanks x
Thanks Christina! The trolley is from IKEA it’s called the Raskog Cart :-) So handy!
Great tips Laura and a fantastic topic. I think the biggest thing for me has been working from home, when I worked in the office one of the girls was constantly comparing our bodies/foods/workouts and I felt this huge pressure to ‘not let myself down’ by coming up short. Being based at home has thankfully removed that and although I still see that person, it’s in much smaller doses and we’re not spending all day five days a week together.
Having allergies has always made me less of a comparison person – it’s too depressing to compare myself to what other people can eat/do/look like and I learnt that from a very early age.
It can be really hard when you work with someone like that, I find it’s usually them projecting their issues on to you, but that’s still not helpful when it makes you feel that way! Glad that you were able to find a better working solution!
So so true. I found myself getting so stressed out by running because I was slower than I was last year and other people were faster. I took myself out of certain events so I wouldn’t be in the position to get myself down. It definitely helped. It also helped to realise that running is something I do for myself so why does it really matter what others are doing? People are always going to be faster and stronger than me so there’s no point getting down when I’m not as “good” as the next runner. Instead I’m using their achievements to motivate me and inspire me, a far more positive thing. It is extremely tough though because running is something that can be so easily directly compared (with paces and PBs etc.) but i always need to remember that running is a pleasure for me and when it becomes stressful I need to reset back to why I run.
I think it’s really hard with running. I know when I was a runner I was so bad for comparison and my best always seemed to come up short. I think that reminder that there’s always going to be some one ‘better’ that you, helps you to let that go, and as you say, use them for positive inspiration instead.
I love this post! It’s so easy to compare yourself to others but isn’t always the best for your mental health…
Where did you get your huge pinboards from? I can only find tiny ones…
Thanks Sarah! I got mine online here: http://www.boardsdirect.co.uk/store/product/92/Bi-Office-Cork-Boards%2C-Oak-Effect-Frame/
The delivery and everything was spot on :-)
Absolutely love this post Laura!! Some really helpful tips that I think to be honest, most women need. Women are so guilty of comparison all the time for different things which is kind of sad because it shows how insecure women are these days (can be said for guys too but I don’t think it’s as bad on the whole).
It’s something I really struggle with still mainly with body image stuff, wishing I looked like ‘her’ and being so jealous. It’s really quite horrible! Even when I walk into the gym these days it’s funny how every girl looks at every other girl in the gym. I was watching it the other day and I just found it really sad how we’re such a jealous culture and instead of being respectable and applauding women getting into the gym, which some women absolutely dread, we’re too busy comparing how we look.
For me, things definitely got easier when I removed negative people from my life though. Even if they were my ‘friends’, if they were always talking about diets or never being thin enough or didn’t generally eat enough to be considered healthy, I dropped them from my life. It’s not that they were bad people but to me, that was really unhelpful and I’ve felt a weight off my shoulders and much happier since. I’d recommend it to anyone.
I totally agree, I think there is so much insecurity in ourselves, it’s actually very sad. I know what you mean about girls in the gym, it’s probably one of the worst places for it! Good for you removing those negative people, I think it’s one of the hardest things to do, especially if you still care about them but sometimes it just has to happen. As you say it doesn’t mean they are bad people, they just aren’t the best for where you are in your life x
I guess there is sort of a fine line, and it’s all about finding that balance between it being a positive and stopping it before it crosses over to be a negative. I think the we can only try to buy the best version of ourselves, no point comparing to other people, as we are all so incredibly different and unique.
Totally agree, I think that’s something each of us need to access in our own lives and be honest when the line is crossed
I used to be terrible for comparing myself to others, but then I realised that I don’t know what happens behind closed doors and I am sure everyone else struggles just the same way that I do.
I think it’s easy to forget those other things people have going on and no matter how perfect or together things seem we all have our own mess to sort out!
I love this Laura, such great ideas – I am definitely going to write a list of my goals and keep it handy. Ironically the one person I seem to compare myself with the most is my best friend and sister who I love more than anything. Perhaps because we’re siblings I feel that we should be more similar but I am learning to celebrate our differences.
Thanks Rachael! Glad that you are learning to celebrate those differences, it can be even harder with family and friends but taking that approach definitely helps :-)
Comparison truly is a thief of joy. I know that many of the people I interact with, work with and see struggle with comparison. I even think much of the media encourages it, especially with women. Sadly, most comparison leaves us feeling unworthy, dissatisfied, and less than. I love the idea of being uniquely you, as that is truly what we are all about. We are different, and that is beautiful. If we were all the same, life would get pretty boring. Thanks for a great post!
I totally agree with you (!). I also have a similar post on my website. Comparing ourselves to others can be very toxic and unfortunately very accessible in our days of a social media. We have to keep in mind that people want us to see & hear what they want us to see & hear (which is off course only the best things)
Your re-sharing of this couldn’t have been better timed, Laura! I am a HUGE culprit of comparing myself to others. I think I even did it before social media! Recently I have been trying to remind myself to ‘Accept my journey’ – since starting to carve my path in blogging and nutrition I find that I get caught up in other people’s blogs or careers in health and find myself being jealous or wanting to fast-forward and be at the same place as them! When how can I be?! I am on my own path and my own journey is taking me where I need to go at the right pace for me. It’s a hard one to accept!
With blogs, I love reading them but I do find that I compare what I’m doing or reviewing on my blog. Which takes all the enjoyment out of blog reading! I am going to follow your idea and cut down which blogs I read and scrap the ones that make me feel bad about myself.
I also find I compare my relationship with friend’s relationships – how many date nights they have or what fun things they do together! Why do we do this?!
It’s a hard one but I am going to print this blog post out and refer to it when I need!
Also – LOVE your desk – totally comparing it to my own messy one!