September 13, 2020

When a coworker gets a promotion, do you feel genuinely happy for them, or are you envious on the inside that it wasn’t you? When you see pictures on social media from your friend’s beach vacation are you jealous that you couldn’t afford a vacation for your family?

If you’re like most people, comparing yourself to others is probably your first instinct. Learning how to stop comparing yourself to others will allow you to live a more satisfied and content life. But how do you do that? The best way to stop comparing yourself to others is to have an action plan ready for when the moment strikes.

Four steps to stop comparing yourself to others:

1. Be aware of your triggers

The first step in changing a habit or behavior in your life is to recognize your triggers for that behavior. Scrolling through social media is a major trigger for comparison for most people. While we like to believe that social media makes us feel more inspired and connected to the world, in reality, we often leave feeling unhappier than before. But what about other situations in your life that may not be so obvious?

Is there a person who always brags about themselves or things in their life that make you feel less than? Does driving through an upscale neighborhood make you feel bad that your home isn’t as extravagant? Does going into a higher-end store make you less content with your own wardrobe?

If you’re not sure what your triggers for social comparison are, now is the time to figure it out. Awareness is power, and with that power, you can take control of your life.

2. Avoid Your Triggers If Possible

Once you know what triggers your comparison it’s easier to formulate a plan to deal with it. The most effective deterrent for your triggers is to avoid them altogether. If being around a certain person triggers jealousy and discontentment, then you may need to limit the time spent with that person. While you may like window shopping in that high-end store, it’s not worth walking through the doors if it leads to you feeling empty and less than.

If social media is constantly bringing you down, take a break from mindlessly scrolling and detox your brain. Choose a specific time frame for your hiatus. Even just one day can have a profound impact on your mental health. Delete the app from your phone, or even deactivate your account altogether to deter you from giving in and checking your social media. You will thank yourself later.

Some triggers are just unavoidable without revamping major areas of your life. Don’t worry! There are tactics to get you through those instances.

3. Think Through It Logically

So you know your trigger but, unfortunately, there’s no way for you to avoid it. What now? Asking yourself a few logical questions can help you overcome the comparison spiral and set your mind right.

  • Is the comparison coming from me or society’s pressure? This one will take some soul searching but the better you know yourself, the better you can defend against social comparison.
  • Why are you comparing yourself to this person? Sometimes we compare ourselves to somebody who we admire. Other times, we compare ourselves to someone because they have something we want. Knowing your motive for comparing yourself will provide some clarity.
  • Do you know the behind-the-scenes story? It’s easy to look at what people put on social media and think they have a perfect life. Remind yourself that you are only seeing what that person has carefully chosen for you to see. You don’t know what their life is like off of social media or what sacrifices they made to get the life they have.
  • Is this something positive that I can use to inspire change in myself? Not all comparisons are negative. If you are comparing yourself to someone you admire because they are super generous then use that as motivation to become more generous yourself. I like to say, “Don’t be jealous, be inspired!”

4. Know What Calms You Down

If you still end up in a comparison spiral, don’t give up! You know yourself better than anybody and you know what works best for you. We all have tried and true methods for what calms us down and re-centers our thoughts. If you’re not clear what works for you, try different techniques to see what works.

Saying affirmations or repeating a mantra to yourself is a proven technique that could help bring you out of a comparison funk. Some examples of affirmations include: “I am grateful for who I am, and who I am becoming,” “Nobody is me, and that is my superpower,” and “Money doesn’t buy happiness, and never will.” Find a mantra that applies to you.

Practicing gratitude will make you less vulnerable to comparison and envy. It even boosts your mental health and helps reduce stress levels. Keeping a gratitude journal and posting visual reminders for yourself are just a couple of ways you can practice gratitude. However you choose to practice gratitude, making it a daily practice is an excellent way to stop comparing yourself to others.

What are you grateful for? Song to go along: "Easy" by Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones

The battle of comparing yourself to others is an inward one only you can fight. By identifying your triggers, avoiding them if possible, and employing proven techniques when you can’t, you can stop comparing yourself to others. Just remember: the only person you should be comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday.

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