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How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others (and Stop Feeling Lousy About Yourself and Your Life)



Image by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fabiovenni/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

.“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
Max Ehrman

One very common and destructive daily 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 pummel your self esteem to the ground and you create a lot of negative feelings within. And perhaps also outside of yourself.

So what can you do? How can you get a handle on this habit?

In this article I’ll share what I have done. I’ll start with two habits that I use to replace that destructive habit. Then I’ll move on to a few more general tips that have also helped me.

Compare yourself to yourself.

First, 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.

You can make this habit stick by for instance taking a few minutes each day or just each Sunday (or any day that fits you) to use a journal to write down how you have grown, how much closer you are to your goals now, what you have overcome and learned and so on.

By doing so your thinking will over time shift and your thought patterns will automatically become more focused on comparing you to you rather than to other people.

Be kind.

In my experience, 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 and criticize people more and you tend to judge and criticize yourself more (often almost automatically). Be more kind to other people and help them and you tend to be more kind and helpful to yourself.

So focus your mind on helping people and being kind.

Focus on the positive things in yourself and in the people around you. Appreciate what is positive in yourself and others. This way 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.

Now, a few more tips that can be helpful to move away from that comparison trap:

  • Just realize that you can’t win. Just consciously realizing this is 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 your neighbour. But a week or two later you’ll see someone from the next block with an even finer car than yours.
  • Give up both sides of comparing. If you can’t stop doing the negative comparisons then stop doing the comparisons that make you feel good too. Give them both up, at least for a while. If you’re in the habit of comparing to feel better about yourself then it’s hard to just stop at that and to not also start comparing in way that make you feel worse and inferior too. 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.

And that is basically how I do it, that is how I keep those negative comparisons to a minimum in my life.

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  • bandageherveleger July 26, 2011, 9:27 am

    I agree with you ,I t is very important for us to know ourself in a proper way !great blog!

  • bandageherveleger July 26, 2011, 9:29 am

    by the way ,sometimes we need compare to others then we could get better to know our shortcoming and be a better person ,through comparing ,we could learn from each other ,we should be humble!

  • kurgat July 26, 2011, 1:27 pm

    Good stuff indeed.I can only win for being myself.If you try to compare yourself with someone else you can only get disappointed.That is why when you die you will take your hands,legs ,brains to your grave, not someones else.The fact of accepting this makes us happier for being who we are.Our offspring s will always know that their parents were a happy lot if we inculcate in them a feeling of self satisfaction.

  • Andrea July 26, 2011, 3:34 pm

    Hi Henrik

    Thank you for this. It is so true, we cannot compare ourselves with others, we are all different and got different journeys in life. What could work for someone else could be bad for me
    I like your idea that if you are judging someone else, you are judging yoruself also. It is true. We are all mirrors. The bad we see in someone else is a reflection of ourselves, so when we point fingers to someone else there are three other fingers pointing back to us.

    Thank you
    Andrea
    A Happier Self

  • @marcmillan July 26, 2011, 9:03 pm

    Love the article and approach bro, Compare yourself to yourself. That’s brilliant and very well said.
    M_

  • Dana Lightman, Ph.D. July 27, 2011, 8:53 pm

    I love this article. One of the most damaging habits is that of comparing your path to someone else’s. After all, we are each here to create our own journey. We are each unique. What a relief to celebrate my individuality.

  • stephen July 28, 2011, 3:12 am

    Good article, i used to always compare myself to other years ago, but eventually i realized that it was only harming myself, it did take a while to stop doing it just like anything you have been habitually doing for a long time it can take just as much time and effort to stop! But i feel a lot happier for doing it:)
    Also like you said you have to also stop making yourself feel better by thinking you are better than other people, just accept who you are and work on improving yourself because that is all that matters!

  • Simon July 28, 2011, 4:44 pm

    This is something that you easily could have gone into greater depth with – it’s such a good topic and the more information about it the better.
    - keep up the good work

  • Lauren @ MRS August 3, 2011, 3:47 am

    That’s true though, it would forever be a vicious cycle if you keep on stacking up your shortcomings and achievements against the people around you. It’s best to just encourage yourself in doing better in all aspects of your life for the purpose of your own happiness and achievement.

  • TheHappyOne August 3, 2011, 9:57 am

    I think the dominant reason of stress and stress-related diseases in today’s world is “Comparison with others”. Those who have been gifted with good looks, finances and brains are still stressed as there is always someone better to be found. Most of us are not contented with what we have and crave for more and more. I know this craving is must for personal growth but it’s a double-edged sword for it drains us as well. Personally, I feel a line needs to be drawn to attain contentment and bliss, which is easier said than done.

    Thanks Henrik for this discussion.

  • Stephen August 5, 2011, 7:22 pm

    Hey Henrik,

    Awesome post, this really gets to the root of one of my biggest issues, comparing myself to others. I agree fully with what you said, we all started at different places with different talents and weaknesses. We all have had different experiences, and we are all on our own unique paths so no reason whatsoever to compare ourselves to others. One thing that has helped me immensely in this area is releasing stored up chronic muscle tension in my body and body language. When you release muscle tension, usually emotional release comes with it.

    A great program for this is Code of the Natural by Rob Brinded found here:

    Body Language Attraction

  • Makus With Social Skills Advice September 4, 2011, 9:41 am

    Comparing you self to you self is something I have thought of myself, because when you do keep track of your own growth, then you can help but to get more motivated. With is an important factor of success.

    Br Markus Ellek

  • Thomas September 4, 2011, 9:46 am

    I agree, comparing your self toward others will almost never lead to anything positive. While comparing yourself to you self will always be a very strong source of motivation – because it will force you to see your own growth.

    thanks – Thomas

  • Kelsey September 13, 2011, 10:50 pm

    I try to appreciate what I have but being competitive can help me grow.