In today's society, where everyone is always striving to be the best and achieve that dream of owning a house, having a family, etc., we sometimes can fall in the trap of putting ourselves down and comparing ourselves to others - something that affects our relationships, our friendships and ourselves. Today's post tackles exactly that and provides tips on how to avoid comparing yourself to others.
Are They Better Than Me?
We're all guilty of doing this. Hey, it's hard not to. No matter the type of success
- financial ("they have a larger home than me or have more designer bags"),
- academic ("they're smarter than me"),
or at your job ("they just landed a big promotion and I didn't")
- to attractiveness ("they're so much prettier than me")
- relationships ("they have so many more friends")
- comparing your chapter 2 to someone's chapter 10 or even there strengths to your weaknesses may greatly impede on helping you achieve your own goals and truly being happy.
Why may this be? At these moments we are experiencing unhelpful thoughts - and if you remember from the last post - thoughts, emotions, and behaviors all impact one another. So what likely happens is that we can become sad, defeated, and even passive at that very moment, which may not be the most productive at helping you achieve your own personal goals.
However, not all comparisons are bad. There may have been times when focusing on other people's strengths helped you build your own personal motivation to achieve certain goals. I think the difference for those where this has helped and/or is different is that you've acknowledged someone's successes and examined the steps they've utilized to get to where they are now. In essence, you are being constructive and examining a problem and finding steps to help you achieve your goal (will discuss goal setting and problem solving in the future).
But hey, doing this may come second nature to us so what can we do to help us avoid comparing ourselves to others and as a result putting ourselves down?
Strategies to Avoid Comparing Yourself To Others
1. Catch yourself thinking these thoughts! It can be hard to change anything unless we become aware.
2. Address the thoughts. Don't ignore them. Often times unaddressed thoughts and emotions can build up, leading to a larger problem.
3. Practicing acceptance to where we are in life. We live in a day in age where we want immediate gratification and goals achieved quickly. However, great things often take long to accomplish. Practicing acceptance to where we currently are in life and acceptance to things that have already happened in our life may allow us to look at our future more constructively and help us become the type of persons we aspire to be (will explore acceptance in greater depth in future). And if there's something we'd like to change in our lives, after we practice acceptance, it may be helpful to then evaluate where you'd like to be (set a realistic and measurable goal), and make small changes to help you get to where you want to be (will go more in depth on goal setting in future).
4. Remember setbacks are part of life. Although it may appear that others have had it easier (maybe they even have had it easier in certain aspects of there life). Remember we all have experienced setbacks- no matter, who you are (even celebrities, athletes, doctors). Not one person is free from them. It's about learning how to get back up and examining the problem differently that have led up to there success.
5. Practice changing the unhelpful thoughts. You may remember in a previous post where I mention pretending you are giving yourself advice to a friend or family member and then applying it to yourself. You can also try normalizing when doing this. Remember everyone has setbacks and everyone is struggling with some sort of difficulty.
So instead of:
"Wow, I'm the worst at taking tests"
"Wow, I'm the worst at creating excel spreadsheets"
It may be more helpful to think:
"It's okay, setbacks are part of life, I'm going to ask for help to see how I can improve my grade or knowledge of excel."
6. Identify your own personal strengths and try to avoid competition.
There will always be someone faster, more attractive, or have more finances. However, do remember everyone has personal struggles, so that faster runner may have difficulties making friends or that more attractive individual may suffer from a medical condition.
Also, getting caught up in a competition with others will only lead to short-lived gratification or boost of ego if you are able to attain a win. Instead how about identify your own strengths and focus on what makes you unique and do everything you can to help you achieve your own personal life goals.
7. Avoid putting others down.
Try to avoid putting others down. Speaking negatively about others is considered a form of bullying (will have a special post about this in future). Instead focus on YOU. When you're spending all of your energy on someone else you're forgetting to focus on your own goals and how you can be the best possible you!
8. Practice, practice, practice. Practicing these tips will only work as long as you continue to practice, only after this will it become easier and more automatic. I often say, if you've believed something for so many years, it may take years of practice to have something become more automatic.
Thank you all for reading! Today's topics touched upon cognitive restructuring, acceptance, and goal setting, if you'd like to learn more about these contact your health insurance company and seek out a licensed psychologist.