Comparing yourself to others? Two things to watch out for
It’s such an easy trap to fall into… and yet we’re all guilty of doing it: comparing yourself to others.
It just goes natural, without effort and without consciously noticing. Around Christmas, this seems to be ever more evident, the rat race. How many Christmas presents have my friends bought? Is their tree up already? Is it better looking? Are my neighbours putting up any lights around the house this year? Are you tempted? Why?
Christmas is just one example, but there are so many more everyday examples you can probably relate to. Maybe at the gym or fitness class ‘Blimey, how many miles has he already done on the treadmill?!’, at the supermarket ‘What is in their trolley?’, going out ‘What outfit is she wearing tonight?’, and coming back home again ‘Honey, the neighbours are doing their grass again!’ …the list goes on and on. Best thing is that all of this is magnified and beautified times a gazillion with social media. Feeling gradually more deflated the further you scroll down your Facebook or Instagram feed. Lovely.
Comparing yourself to others, I’m also guilty…
For example, what I tend to do is look around and see what other life coaches are doing, especially those who specialise in habits. People like Leo Babauta or James Clear, who have been successful in what they do. I compare myself and my business to theirs and ask lousy questions such as ‘Gosh, look at what they have achieved. That’s so impressive. I want to do that as well. Why haven’t I thought about that?’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask what your friends are doing for Christmas or you shouldn’t continue to compare your business to others. No, crack on if you want. Who am I to tell you what to do or not do in your life. You’re old enough to make that decision for yourself. You know what, comparing yourself to others doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It can inspire you, drive you into action, and sometimes actually teach you something new.
But most often, comparing yourself to others is not a conscious decision you make. It just happens, like we mentioned earlier, without effort. Often, it pulls you down and you can feel pretty lousy about it.
So, how can we prevent such a thing from happening? Two things should help you on your way.
First: accept that everything in life is bloody relative
First, don’t just look up to others. Accept and realise that everything in life is bloody relative.
Since we all have got different life experiences there will (unfortunately) always be someone better or more superior than you in one or more areas of your life. Better looking, a higher wage, a bigger car, you name it. Perhaps your neighbours can afford a fancier Christmas tree and spoil their children with what seems an endless number of gifts. It sucks.
But also, so what?
As similarly – believe it or not – there are always people out there who are worse off than you in at least one area of your life. It might not be easy to admit, but it’s damn well true. Some people aren’t just as healthy, wealthy, or generally competent as you are if you’re completely honest with yourself. Can you think of someone in your life? Well, you don’t often compare yourself to those individuals now are you? It just not as natural or easy to think about those cases.
Some people might have just been dealt a lousy set of cards at the start of their life. Nobody said life is fair. No, life is definitely not always fair but every one of us has different life experiences. Because of these experiences, there will always be someone out there who is more ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ in one area of life.
So, next time when you compare yourself to others be wary of the fact that there always different ways of looking at the same situation. You can look up or look down, maybe even next to you. The point I’m trying to make here is there is no right or wrong, it’s a matter of perspective.
Second: set the bar
Secondly, when you do feel down, jealous, powerless about the situation that you’re in now when you compare yourself to others, realise that you still have the opportunity to do something about it.
How? Simply ask yourself what the hell your standards are.
When you compare yourself to other people you tell yourself you have no life standards because you can always find that person who is worse off or better off than you.
Think about that for a moment.
When you’re comparing yourself to others you basically tell yourself you have no standards for yourself. Isn’t this true? For example, when you’re looking at someone’s figure and think ‘I wish I were so slim’ have you set a standard for yourself? I think not. Similarly, when I compare my business to that of others and say to myself ‘wow, they are so impressive‘ have I not got a choice to set a bar for my own business? Of course, I have.
Have standards for yourself
So, what’s the solution? Simple, have standards. Have goals, ambitions, targets, dreams, whatever you want to name it. Write it down and give it a go. There is no harm in trying. There is more harm in following, just going with flow and being a product of your direct environment because you have set no standards for yourself.
Stop looking around, to others, instead look at yourself. Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? What do you care about?
I’m not asking to raise your bar, to do so you need to set it first.
If you set the bar there is no need anymore to be jealous or feel down about the achievements of others because there is simply no need for it anymore. You’re not looking because you’re focused on your bar, on your journey and that feels so much better I can reassure you. Then you feel no longer powerless but in control, no longer jealous but focused and determined.
In a nutshell
So, next time you compare yourself once more to others, don’t feel taken aback. Gosh no, as you will continue to compare yourself to others. What you could do instead is just to pause for a moment, accept that everything is life is bloody relative (are you looking up or down to others in this case?) and ask yourself: where is my bar?
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About Nick Rothengatter
Nick is a qualified life coach and certified NLP practitioner and holds an MSc in consumer studies. His speciality lies in creating a change that lasts. What makes Nick different is that he's also a behaviour technician and outdoor pursuit instructor. This implies that he applies behavioural change in three different but very complimentary roles.