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How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People: 5 Effective Tips



Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/ / CC BY 2.0

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
Lao Tzu

One destructive habit is to constantly compare your life and yourself to other people and their lives. You compare cars, houses, jobs, shoes, money, relationships, social popularity and so on. And at the end of the day you create a lot of negative feelings within. And perhaps also outside of yourself.

But how can you stop doing it? Or at least get control of it and use it in a better way? Well, here are five tips that have helped me.

1. Be kind.

The way you behave and think towards others seems to have a big, big effect on how you behave towards yourself and think about yourself Judge people more and you tend to judge yourself more. Be more kind to other people and help them and you tend to be more kind and helpful to yourself.

A bit counter intuitive perhaps, but that has been my experience. The more you love other people, the more your love yourself.

So focus your mind on helping people and being kind. This is very helpful to move away from judging yourself and others so much. And instead focus on the positive things in yourself and the people around you. You become more OK with yourself and the people in your world instead of ranking them and yourself and creating differences in your mind.

You are OK and so are they.

2. Don’t fall into the trap of hero worship.

When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.

When you have some heroes you are likely to think more about the opposite too. And place people into neat and tidy folders. You may create villain-like images of people in your world.

But in truth, things can be kinda messy. Putting someone on a pedestal or making a villain out of them create barriers in your head and life. It may give you a sense of being right. But it can hold you back from positive experiences too.

Openness is in the long run more fun than being judgemental.

3. Just realize that you can’t win.

Just consciously realizing this can be helpful. No matter what you do you can pretty much always find someone else in the world that has more than you or are better than you at something. Yes, you may feel good for a while when you get a nicer car than you neighbour. But a week or two later you’ll see someone from the next block with an even finer car than yours.

4. Give up both sides of comparing.

If you can’t stop doing the negative comparisons then stop doing them both.

Because if you’re in the headspace where you compare to feel better about yourself then it’s hard to stop it and not also start to compare in way that make you feel worse and inferior. So you may need to step out of that whole comparing habit because the two sides are often connected. Give up the upside to be able to move away from the downside.

5. Compare yourself to yourself.

Instead of comparing yourself to other people create the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. See how much you have grown, what you have achieved and what progress you have made towards your goals.

This habit has the benefit of creating gratitude, appreciation and kindness towards yourself as you observe how far you have come, the obstacles you have overcome and the good stuff you have done. You feel good about yourself without having to think less of other people.

Bonus tip: Use helpful comparisons.

So are there no helpful comparisons that you do between yourself and other people? Sure there are. One exercise I use when I for example feel sorry for myself is to ask myself:

“Does someone have it worse on the planet?”

The answer may not result in positive thoughts, but it can sure snap you of a somewhat childish “poor, poor me…” attitude pretty quickly. I understand that I have much to be grateful for in my life.

This question changes my perspective from a narrow, self-centred one into a much wider one. It helps me to lighten up about my situation.

But if doing such helpful comparisons also leads you to constantly compare yourself to others in a negative way then you may need to stop and give up the comparing habit altogether as I mentioned in tip # 4.

And then later on, sometime in the future, when your mind is more peaceful and positive, you may want to incorporate questions like the one above. Or not. Experiment and find a balance and way that works for you.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Positively Present November 5, 2009, 11:53 pm

    Great post! I love #5!

  • Rocky | R O C K O N O V A .COM November 6, 2009, 12:11 pm

    great article Henrik ! I know this mindset will definitely be helpful as I go to work today. Thanks !

  • Amanya Jacobs November 6, 2009, 9:58 pm

    Your article is clear and your message is impactful. Thanks for writing and sharing!

  • Srinivas Rao November 7, 2009, 5:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s a really interesting post and I’m a big fan of not falling victim to the comparative competitive disadvantage. Your tips are simple and easy to follow.

  • Jon | Adventures of The Fearless November 7, 2009, 5:55 pm

    Henrik well put, this will serve a nice reminder to all

  • Jason of Kim & Jason November 7, 2009, 7:52 pm

    This post reminds me of great advice a friend once shared with me: “A life of compare leads to a life of despair.”

    So true!

  • Henrik Edberg November 8, 2009, 12:42 pm

    Thanks for all the comments and added insights! =)

  • Anthony Feint November 8, 2009, 2:08 pm

    “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” – You end up going round in circles if you aren’t satisfied with who you are. Great post!

  • HAL November 10, 2009, 4:26 pm

    Perfect. Thank you!

  • Guilherme P. November 10, 2009, 7:53 pm

    very nice post man. It’s a mindset that i’ve been trying to improve but it’s not an easy task,we’ve been educated to judge since childhood so i’m finding out that it needs some determination to cut out or at least control judgements. Those tips will help me a lot tough, thanks.

  • Amanda@choosing-life-my-way.com November 11, 2009, 4:01 pm

    This is a great read! It is so important to adjust our thinking in this area and you definitely have some helpful ideas :)

  • Lana - DreamFollowers Blog November 12, 2009, 9:54 am

    Great post Henrik, I especially agree with “The more you love other people, the more your love yourself.” I would say it is he other way around, the more you love yourself, the more you love others, but I guess it doesn’t really matter that much what comes first.

  • Camille November 14, 2009, 1:43 am

    Thanks for this post : ) I definitely use the “helpful comparisons” that you talked about in this post. This is one of the easiest ways I can think of to learn to appreciate what you have. I see people who have to wait for the bus in the cold, and give thanks I have a car. In the past few months my husband and I have lost a couple of people we know to cancer – I give thanks that I have my health. A good book to read: Easier Than You Think, by Richard Carlson. It describes simple ways to change your life and outlook for the better.

  • Ana December 19, 2009, 1:05 am

    This is so amazingly true. I remember a few years ago a did everything in this list, but the oposite. i think part of that was because i didnt understand or even care about how everything works.
    And i started thinking how demeaning that was and changed. I’m much happier and I’m very proud of who i have become.
    it’s really great advice.

  • amy December 30, 2009, 3:00 pm

    i liked this article a lot, thanks dude.

  • Azad May 7, 2010, 12:33 pm

    Tanks a lot,Henrick .It was great ,i ‘m trying on 5 tips and thinking they whould be benefit for my life ,thanks again man. :)

  • alice July 25, 2010, 8:03 pm

    Thanks for the article. I too have the comparison illness and it is destroying my life. The problem is a part of myself that can’t stand to be less in some skills or beauty. I wanna give up.