9 Realistic Tips to Help You Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
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These days, we have the whole, entire world at our fingertips. We’re able to keep in touch with (or stalk) people we knew in elementary school, old boyfriends, and completely random people we’ve met along the journey.
This constant access to the lives of our friends and families (and famous people!) can be super inspiring – or it can cause us to compare our own lives with those of others, which can lead to some serious feelings of inferiority.
Wishing that your life looked more like the ones you see on social media is unhealthy and unrealistic. You see everyone’s highlight reel and not a whole lot of their reality. It’s not real, everyday life.
And it can leave you feeling very discouraged and have a negative effect on your self-esteem.
These effects of comparing yourself to others can also make you lose focus on what really matters to you.
But here’s the reality: Every single mom out there struggles with comparison. It’s not just you. Or me.
At its best, comparison can motivate you to do more and achieve more, which will give a boost to your self-esteem. At its worst, however, it can give you a serious inferiority complex and make you feel like you’re less than or not enough.
Just because it’s “common,” though, doesn’t make it normal or okay or good for you.
The Definition of Comparison
Dictionary.com defines “compare” as to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences.
To put into other words, comparison is the gathering of information about something so that we can measure and gauge the similarities and differences.
Sounds pretty benign. No big deal, right?
So if comparison, by definition, is simply for seeing how we stack up against others, why does it make us feel so much less-than when we compare our lives to other moms? Why doesn’t it inspire us to grow in our own lives when we see someone else thriving?
We’ve been comparing ourselves to others forever. On the positive side, it helps us to determine what we want to do and who we want to be, or even what we DON’T want to do and who we DON’T want to be.
But somewhere along the way, we start to judge ourselves for not being where we think we *should* be in life. And herein lies the problem.
Why Do I Compare Myself to Other Moms?
Put plainly, comparison is the result of insecurity.
I think we start comparing because we’re looking for confirmation and validation that we’re doing / wearing / feeding our kids the right thing. It starts wayyy back in school with hair, makeup, clothes, friends… And it really never ends.
Some of us hit insecurity when we get into middle school because we’re looking to fit in, high school because we’re trying to figure out who we are, or college because we have to figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives.
Motherhood is another huge insecurity trigger. We’re entering this new stage of life that no one can prepare us for, and we have no idea what we’re doing. Even if we grew up with a ton of siblings, babysat, or worked with kids in any way, motherhood is different.
So we look to other moms to make sure we’re “doing it right.”
Why You Should Stop the Comparison Game
- Comparisons take your joy away and cause stress and distraction. They add no value, meaning, or fulfillment.
- It makes you feel bad about yourself and others. Comparisons often result in resentment, both toward yourself and others.
- Comparing takes precious time away from your life – from achieving your goals and spending quality time with your family, among other things.
- Your focus is on the wrong person – you can only control your own life. When you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, you waste precious time and energy by focusing on other people’s lives instead of your own.
- When you compare yourself with others, you’re almost always being unfair to yourself because you’re comparing their best to your worst.
- You’re too unique to compare fairly. Your talents, successes, and contributions are yours and yours alone. They truly can’t be compared to anyone else’s.
The reality is this: You can be anything, but you can’t be everything. When you compare yourself to others, you’re usually comparing their best features (like those Pinterest and Instagram pics) against our average features. When you see their highlights, you naturally want to do and be better than them, but this becomes self-destructive when you realize that it’s not possible.
Comparisons almost always lead to unhappiness.
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
#1 – Be Aware of Your Triggers
The first step to breaking a bad habit is always to try to figure out what exactly causes you to do it. For example, two of my easily-controllable anxiety triggers are caffeine and alcohol. I know that both make me anxious, so I try to avoid excess amounts of each.
Although, let’s be real – I’m a mom and I don’t get enough sleep, so I do rely on coffee to get me through the day sometimes, anxiety be darned. And I like wine. So sometimes I choose to indulge, even though I know that the effect could be some anxiety.
But my anxiety triggers are neither here nor there. Back to the point… 😉
I said above that insecurity is the root of comparison. So, in being aware of your triggers, you need to name the insecurity that’s behind the comparison. Are you feeling like your clothes don’t fit anymore because you’ve gained weight? Like you’re not a good mom? Like you don’t have a nice enough house?
Awareness is where change begins. When you become aware of the reason for the comparison, you can change the way you’re thinking about and talking to yourself.
What happens in your head when you scroll through social media? What makes someone else “successful” in your eyes, whether it’s their clean house, their side hustle, or their perfectly toned body? Who do you compare yourself to and why?
When you figure out what triggers you, you can avoid those triggers altogether, or you can work to process them more effectively with positive affirmations. You can find a way to overcome those obstacles and barriers that are preventing you from getting to that level of “success” that you’re finding in other people. You can stop telling yourself that you could never do something and start taking action instead.
#2 – GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA!!!
Yes, all caps. Yes, it’s that important.
I know you’ve heard this before, but social media is the absolute devil when it comes to making people feel inferior.
People are posting perfect snapshots of one moment in time. It’s just a highlight reel. Social media provides us with a distorted reality. We’re not getting the full picture.
If we travel back in time to the land before Facebook, you wouldn’t even know that your acquaintances (because, let’s be real, these people are most likely NOT your friends) were taking these amazing tropical vacations or creating picture-perfect bento box lunches for their kids or buying big, beautiful houses that you could never afford in a million years.
If you didn’t see these things on social media, you wouldn’t even know they were happening. So, since you can’t compare when you don’t even know…
Cut those people from your friends’ list – those who are causing the kind of comparison that makes you feel bad. And if you can’t unfriend, unfollow. But also? Just don’t spend so much time on socials – it’ll do amazing things for your mental health.
#3 – Remember Your Priorities
Why do you feel jealous when you hear about your friend’s fancy Fiji vacation? You don’t have any desire to fly halfway around the world (including over some oceans) without your kids, but you still feel crappy.
This would be a good time to remind yourself about your actual dreams. What are 3 or 4 things you want more than anything? For me, my dream vacation is a two-week family Disney vacation with a stay in a two-bedroom villa at Beach Club or a fancy tower suite at Coronado Springs and an unlimited food and drink budget. It’s NOT a tropical vacation halfway around the world without my kids. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.
Focus on what it will take to snag your own dreams, and that should pull you out of the depths of comparison.
#4 – Practice Gratitude
I know, you’ve heard it a hundred times before. But there’s a good reason for that.
Showing gratitude for the things you already have is one of the most powerful ways to reduce comparison and feel really, truly happy with where you are. It gives you a new perspective on your own life and allows you to appreciate it more, even when you’re having a less-than-awesome day.
Think of a handful of things that you’re grateful for every day. Better yet, write them down.
#5 – Focus on YOU
Most of the time, when I seem to be comparing myself to others even more than usual, it can be directly traced back to the fact that I’m not working toward the mom or person I want to be.
On the flip, when I am taking care of me, focusing on personal growth, working on being a better mom, wife, friend… I have less time to look so deeply into others’ lives that those feelings of jealousy start creeping up on me.
Even better, when I’m in this place of growth and taking care of myself, if I find myself scrolling Pinterest, it’s with the intention of being inspired or to gather information – it’s NOT to compare.
Remember your own achievements. Bring the focus back to the hard work you’ve done to get to where you are.
Also, don’t forget to celebrate the smaller milestones on the way to achieving your bigger goals. Just because you see something that you want but someone else has, it doesn’t mean you’re not well on your way.
Also, take note of your own strengths. Write them down, and look at them every day. Continue to build your own strengths, because this, in turn, will strengthen your self-confidence. Once you can recognize your own self-worth, you’ll know that you are enough, you’ll embrace your authentic self, and you won’t need to compare anymore.
Remember your own strengths and worth, and stop pulling yourself down while putting others on a pedestal. Love yourself for who you are.
#6 – Turn Comparison into Motivation
When you start falling into the comparison trap, train your brain to compliment the person instead. This can be in person when appropriate, but it also works when you say it to yourself. Turn it around – be happy for him or her.
You can do this with any negative thought, but this strategy is particularly powerful when you use it to avoid comparing yourself to someone else. You’re simply turning your “I could never do this!” into “I can’t do this – YET! But I can work on it!”
Instead of thinking, “Wow, her house is so clean – I could NEVER keep my house that clean,” and allowing envy to creep in, turn it around and think or say, “Your house is so clean – it’s beautiful!”
Or “I hate that she does such fun things with her kids when I can’t even remember to feed mine half the time,” can be turned around to, “Wow – I love that thing that you’re doing with your kids! I’m totally stealing the idea, and we’re going to do it next week!”
Reframing your negative thoughts can be challenging, but after a while, it becomes second nature to flip a negative to a positive or add “yet” to the end of a sentence.
What exactly are you seeing in someone else to make you start comparing? Use it as motivation instead. Create a goal for yourself!
#7 – Remember That You Compare the Worst of Yourself with the Best of Others
When was the last time you posted something on social media about that huge argument you had with your spouse, your financial struggles, or the fact that you just can’t seem to lose the rest of that baby weight?
You probably never have, right? Most people don’t share the hard stuff on their Facebook page. They share their best days, biggest accomplishments, and favorite moments. It’s all highlight reel stuff.
Which means that you have no idea what a person’s life actually looks like if you’re only seeing it on the socials.
It’s easy to look at someone who just bought your dream home and feel envious that they could afford a home like that. But what you might not see is that they can barely afford their bills every month because they overextended themselves on their mortgage and are living primarily off of credit cards.
We look at the success of others through the lens of our own weaknesses. We see what we assume is the “best” about someone else, and we hold it up to our own insecurities.
When you remember that this is the case, it’s easier to stop yourself from comparing.
#8 – Compare Yourself to… Yourself
Yes, you read that right. If you’re feeling crappy about how you measure up to others, remind yourself that the only person you should be comparing yourself to is past-you.
If you absolutely have to compare, use your past self as the benchmark. This way, the only person you’re competing against is yourself, and you can use this comparison to see how much you’re growing.
Instead of setting goals to obtain what other people do and have, set goals to improve yourself.
All too often, we think about what we want based on what others have. Instead, your goals should be about seeing steady improvement in yourself, not about reaching someone else’s level of “success.” When you set goals around your own improvement, you’ll be less likely to care what others are doing and, therefore, less likely to compare.
We need to be striving to become the best possible versions of ourselves. Commit to growing a little bit each day. Work hard to take care of yourself mentally and physically. And learn to celebrate the tiny steps in personal growth that you’re making along the way.
#9 – Remember How Amazing You Are
YOU are special and unique and amazing. There is no one else on this entire Earth who is like you.
Don’t even try to argue with me, because you’ll be wrong.
Because you’re so awesome, it doesn’t even make sense for you to compare yourself to others. It’s like comparing apples to screwdrivers.
You’re different from everyone else, and you have a different purpose than everyone else.
So just stop with the comparison already!
Comparing yourself to others is always a losing battle. There’s never an end – you can always find someone out there who has what you think you want.
The effects of comparison can cause you to lose focus and can disrupt your progress toward being a better you. Don’t get sidetracked by comparing your goals, challenges, and successes to those of others.
There’s one thing that you’re better at than anyone else in the world – being you. When you adopt this mindset, the world will start to look better again. You’ll no longer focus on where you stand in relation to other people – rather, your focus will be on your own capabilities and goals.
So just stop comparing. It really is as simple as that. You’ve got way better things to do than worrying about how you measure up.
Remember that YOU get to decide how your story ends.
What’s one way that you plan to compare yourself to your past self in order to grow? Leave a comment!