Do you often find yourself comparing your life to that of others, even when you don’t mean to do so? You just find yourself being drawn to do that. It can sometimes be a subconscious act that you don’t mean to do, or you simply consciously indulge in it out of feeling of helplessness and insecurities.
In this episode, we explore the reasons you compare yourself to others, the dangers of this self-deprecating habit and how you can get rid of the compulsion to compare.
There are several problems with this habit of comparing yourself to others.
1). Harsh Self-Judgment
Let’s see, of all the times you have compared your life to others. How many times did you ever cut yourself some slack? – None. you sabotage yourself.
You know why?
You’re most often comparing the strengths of others to your own weaknesses. Now how do you expect to measure up? Of course this is an excellent recipe for a delicious pot of unhappiness, depression, anxiety and low self-confidence.
You can easily come on social media and see a friend has been presented n award for financial intelligence. Rather than be happy for her (or even when you are genuinely happy for her), you still go ahead to sulk and chide yourself on how you’re a dumbhead who knows next to thing about accounting or numbers.
How instead of being smarthead like your colleague, you’re simply good for nothing who goes to work every day empty, and return home empty. How can you ever make it in life when you remain stagnant and unnoticed?
And in the midst of your pity-party, you fail to recognize that you’re the one in the office whom the manager turns to for every conference planning, or you’re the one who handles the designs for the event flyers, or maybe you’re the one who is always expected to bring forth the best suggestions in tough deliberations, or you’re the one considered firmest to train new associates.
Maybe if these even crossed your mind, you would condemn yourself further with “What is conference planning when compared to being a financial guru liken your colleague?”
Or “It’s not even like your designs are that wonderful, you’ve seen better,”
Or “Who cares about bringing forte the best solutions? Once the tough season is over, everyone forgets whose suggestions saved the day.”
Now you’re no longer comparing your weaknesses to their strengths, you have gone ahead to compare strength to strength and yet, you find a way to demean yourself, devalue your abilities and continue to depress your awesome self!
Now you end up being egocentric, inflating your ego when you feel you’re doing better in comparison with others. You make everything about you, talking about your accomplishments more than is necessary. People start to to feel uncomfortable around you and avoid you.
If you happen to be a bit higher-placed, you would look down on those beneath you, criticize people in public and try to knock them down unfairly. In turn, people would flock around you only when they need favours from your office or status.
They would sing sycophancy to your praise because they will learn it is what you need to hear to keep your ego bloated and large enough to hide your insecurities.
Another problem you face when you’re comparing yourself to others is that you end up resenting others for doing well and consequently resent yourself for “not doing well”.
Now on a normal healthy day, you come across a person’s achievement, you fee happy for them, congratulate them for job well done, learn from them if you get the chance, and pick what you feel will be beneficial to your own pursuit of success and fulfillment.
But now, when all you see in the face of other people’s successes is your own failures, inabilities and backwardness, you will not be inspired to work harder or better. You get blinded by anger, resentment, envy and self-loathing that you learn nothing. These emotions becloud your reasoning and you start to hate them for doing so well and hate yourself for not being them.
And probably, you make it a mission to become them – and I don’t mean that in a healthy way. You’re not trying to pick a few success tips. You’re not trying to be mentored by them. You’re trying to throw your own life and gifts under the bus to live their own life.
You want to walk like she walks, talk like she talks, eat the way she eats, dress like she dresses. In fact, if you could undergo a surgery to look just like them permanently, you would. You’re that obsessed to become the next person because to you, your life sucks!
Guess what happens every time you’re reminded by words or events that you can never be someone else, specifically that person you’re obsessed with becoming? – You break down in panic and anxiety and fee; even much worse about yourself.
Losing yourself this way can lead too depression, delirium and even personality disorders. You get confused as to who you truly are because you’re so busy trying to be someone else every time you come across a person you consider successful.
This is the only game you can most certainly win without hitches. So why focus all of your energy to the one game with the lowest odds? Why not be best at playing the game that you’re most assured of winning?
Because in contrast, the one game you are most certain to lose is being someone you’re not. Know why? Because that person will always beat you at it.
The most important things in life are measured internally. Thinking about what really matters to you is hard. Playing to someelse’s scoreboard is easy, that’s why a lot of people do it. But then, winning the wrong game is pointless.
But then you insist to yourself that you have valid reasons to do so:
- So they don’t think I’m a failure;
- So they don’t know that I have only #10,000 naira in my bank account;
- So they admire me for getting the cutest and rich partner hence you stay where you’re not loved or valued;
- So they can’t see that I’m short, hence you wear heels 24hours, even when my legs hurt;
- So they don’t sneer at me when I stand next to my rich model friend, therefore I empty my savings buying designer cloths and sophisticated makeup.
- So I must remain friends with Chioma whose parents are super wealthy, therefore I will do anything to keep up with her trends and appear rich, even if it includes having sex for money.
Look, these are not the important games to win. You get one life, play your game by being true to yourself and stop the façade. Your life is enough.
I have not always been innocent of this anyway. I’ve had my own share. Here’s my own story when it comes to comparison and self-judgment.
When I was in school, that should be my senior secondary, I found myself comparing myself, to another classmate because I felt she got all the attention, and I felt I needed to become her so I could get a swarm of attention too. I soon started flying my shits, sagging my skirt and start using curse words to sound cool. What I didn’t know was that it was more than the dressing style. She actually hanged with the guys after classes where they smoked and drank and did some other adult stuffs that my innocent mind didn’t care to indulge.
At that point, the scales fell from my eyes! Here I was, thinking she was a sweet, innocent girl who attracted male attention without trying. Well technically, she wasn’t trying, she was simply living her life – while I on the other hand, abandoned mine to live hers – at least the hers that I could see.
So there and then I said to myself, “This is the last time I would be comparing myself to someone else in an unhealthy competition.”
Most times you never see the full picture, and the little you see blinds you to your own uniqueness.
Guess what? After I made that decision, I realized that I had just as great attention from within and outside my circle. I found that there were people who actually looked up to sharing my presence, listening to my gists, hearing my laughter, and would even come to check up on me when I was quiet and solemn.
So why didn’t I see all these since? The answer is simple: I wasn’t present in my own life. I was mentally visiting someone else’s life uninvited, while my own was ajar and empty.
SO always remember: Your life is enough.
Here’s some tips to break out of this deadly habit and stop comparing yourself to others:
Many times, just as I stated earlier, this unhealthy comparison comes upon us subconsciously. You may not be aware of it until you’ve been drawn deep into it and your self-pity begins, self-loathing and self-deprecating thoughts come upon you. You call yourself stupid, dumb, good for nothing, invisible, etc.
A young staff at my former workplace onetime actually called herself ‘a waste of 9 months pregnancy’! WTF? To my hearing? The worst part – She didn’t even understand why I should get worked up over it, after all she wasn’t saying those horrible words to me but herself.
And the worst of the worst? – She actually believed it! She went like “Am I not? Did you not hear anything I just at all? I couldn’t get shit done that my premature-born younger sister did without hassles.”
Oh yes, she was comparing herself to her younger sister who was practically footing their mother’s hospital bills, worked a better-paying job, and was a university graduate – all these, the opposite of this junior staff work-friend of mine. How much harsher can a person be to herself huh?Today I don’t know how she’s doing but I really hope she took my advice and stop the unhealthy comparing and self-loathing.
The point of recounting this story is to let you know how unaware we can be towards this phenomenon. If you believe already that whatever negatived stuffs you say to yourself when you fall short in your unhealthy comparison is your truth and your reality, then the chances of you over-coming become really small.
But if you become aware that this habit of comparing yourself with others is first harmful to your mental health and progress, and that all those negative judgments you slap, on yourself are untrue, then you have taken the first step towards over-coming.
Hence, the first step towards putting a stop to unhealthy comparison and self-judgment is to bring it to your conscious awareness that you’re doing it, so that you recognize it, and admit that it is bad and unhealthy for you. Now you’re geared up to take the next fundamental steps.
2). Stop yourself.
Now you know you’re comparing yourself to others and pronouncing judgments, you are now aware that it is unhealthy and that you can’t make any positive progress in that manner. So now, stop yourself right in the act.
Yes, you’re now like a thief caught red-handed, only here, you’re the one impounding yourself. So the moment you see a person’s achievement, or a person’s dashing dressing or flawless makeup, or expensive splurge of cash, or attractive body build, and you start wrinkling your nose, find your chest constricting with shame and pain and just about to chide yourself on being mediocre, there and then, call 911 on yourself and arrest those thoughts. Do it immediately, no delays.
3). Count your blessings and Be thankful.
Now you have stopped yourself just when you were comparing yourself with someone else, the next thing is to shut your physical eyes, take deep steady breaths to relax your chest and open your mind’s eye to the blessings you have in your life. It doesn’t matter how small or large they are, there must be something you got to be grateful for.
- “Yes, I can’t afford to spend that frivolously, but I can at least buy decent clothes and eat daily”.
- “I don’t have long legs, but I’m grateful that I don’t use crutches”.
Count whatever you have until you feel the smile creeping back unto your face and your mind fully out of the kinks. Be grateful for you and be happy for the next person’s achievements or pretty features.
4). Focus on your strengths.
When you are done counting your blessings, focus on your strengths, and believe in your capabilities to attain your future goals.
So she got a national award and your know her wealth of experience made it possible, focus on the fact that you’re already down 3 years in experience and you’re working hard at it. You’ve already networked three partners who are with you for the long run. Soon you will qualify for your own award, because you’re resilient, diligent, honest, and you have the grace of God.
Now you’re renewed in your commitment to achieving your own goals through positive mindfulness. You cannot be caught in that trap of comparison and self-judgment.
5). Accept your imperfections and rise above your insecurities.
So drown your insecurities by reminding yourself that whatever imperfection you have only add up to produce the unique, beautiful person you are.
You must also realize it is your anxiety about your insecurities that cause you to lash out on others in an attempt to drag them down, hoping that will make you feel better. When you’re comfortable in your own skin, focused on your own journey in your lane and having no doubts that you will make it in your own time, then you would have no reason to drag others down because their falling does not make you rise. It rather occupies the time you should ideally be spending building yourself up.
Life is a journey, not a competition.
6). Finally, learn to love enough and be contented.
If you have shelter over your head, food on your table, clothes to wear and people who love you, you’re blessed.
And if for any reason, you don’t have one or more of these, count your life a blessing because dead people cannot be blessed. There’s always hope once there’s life. Things will get better if you believe.
Everyone’s race is different, so when you choose to run someone else’s race, their destination may not be suitable for you. So love enough to enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.
So there we have it. It’s a wrap! So far, we discussed the consequences of comparison and judgment and how you can break out of this deadly habit.
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