How many times have we been told not to compare ourselves to others? For me, countless times and it is also something I frequently say to others as well.
Research has found that people believe they spend more time alone and are part of fewer social circles than other people. However, this is partly because people often compare themselves to highly visible and social people. The same thing happens in other domains as well. For example, when looking at fitness levels, people typically compare their fitness to the fittest person they know. This suggests that our units of measurement are unrealistic when making these comparisons.
Comparison operates inversely in the same manner. Social cognitive psychologists have found that when we want to feel better about ourselves, we make comparisons to people that are worse off than us. This can be uplifting for our spirits when we are feeling low. In contrast, when we want to improve, we compare ourselves to people that are more skilled than we are. This suggests that comparison can be used to motivate us to improve ourselves and our skills.
The problem with comparison starts when we get so deeply immersed in comparing our lives to others that we start to feel inadequate and deflated, effectively beating our self-esteem into the ground. Social media plays a major role here, where everything we see is a highlight that is intentionally curated to be picture-perfect. And the kicker is that we KNOW we only see the highlights, yet we find ourselves wishing that we had what Sandy from a different country, who we don’t know and have never met has.
Although science indicates that comparisons may be useful in some respects, the majority of the population is affected negatively through unhealthy comparison. The good news is that comparing ourselves is something that we can control, and the only comparisons we should be making is the one we make to ourselves and who we were yesterday.
Progress is the main goal on this self-improvement journey and is a form a self-love that will support your growth exponentially and allow you to truly see how far you can go in any area of life, in any amount of time.
However, if you find yourself making negative comparisons on a daily basis then try incorporating these exercises into your life:
- Check out from social media
This is where most people begin to make these comparisons that destroy their self-esteem and self-worth. Do yourself a favour and limit your screen time everyday (no excuses, you can set limits in your phone settings). While you are using social media start practicing awareness to the content that you are consuming. What pages are you following? Do they bring you value? If not, good-bye!
- Be realistic
Comparisons can be helpful when we want to improve our skills but comparing your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty is not going to do you any favours. The same goes for when we make comparisons to our past self. If you’re an injured athlete making comparisons to what you were able to do before your injury, you are using very unrealistic and destructive measurements that are only going to set you
- Make a list of everything you love about yourself and your life
Sometimes it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. This is a good one to fall back on during those tough days where everything seems to be going wrong. Put this list on your phone or somewhere that you can easily access it ICE to remind yourself that you and your life are beautiful and worthy.
– Coach Taylor