You Versus You: How And Why To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
by Rachel Girardi, MSc
As you scroll through the ObesityHelp.com message boards and your Facebook feed and see photos of others, do you find yourself in a constant state of comparison? What about at the gym? Do you look at the person next to you and see her lifting more weight, running faster or wearing a great pair of shorts and think, ‘I wish I had the blank she has’?
It’s hard not to. We’re human.
Everyone compares themselves to others. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t fall victim to it at least every once in a while. Some people are not affected by it in the slightest, but for others this constant comparison makes them feel as though they never match up and that they’re never quite good enough. For those people, it doesn’t matter what we’re comparing, whether it be jobs, spouses, money or the ‘perfect’ body, the feeling that occurs comes from the same root: not feeling good enough about yourself.
The funniest thing about this self-created comparison is that it’s rarely accurate. We go into it with our own biases and perceive things in an entirely unrealistic light.
Frequently, when we compare ourselves to others, we take the strengths of others and pit those strengths against our weakest points. In other words, we compare their highlights to our bloopers. This is not only unfair to us – but it’s like comparing apples to oranges – it doesn’t even really make sense. Would you compare a marathon runner to someone in a learn-to-run program?
So how do we stop comparing ourselves to others?
I’m not going to try and say that it is easy to stop comparing yourself to others, but imagine how much happier you could feel if you weren’t constantly convincing yourself that you fall short of those around you. Think of how much time you spend wishing you could be more like ‘that other person’ and how much further along in your own goals you’d be if you used that time and energy investing in yourself.
The first step in avoiding comparison with others is to become aware of what you are doing. Sometimes we don’t even notice that we’re making comparisons and all of a sudden we feel down on ourselves. If that happens to you, look back and ask, what was your trigger? What were you thinking about that led you to feeling this way?
If you realize you’ve been caught comparing yourself to others, the next step is to reframe your thinking and learn to focus more on yourself than everyone around you.
Here are some tips to help you do that:
Focus on you, and forge ahead. When you notice that you are comparing yourself to others, take them out of the equation entirely. Look at yourself instead and compare the current you, to the ‘you’ of the past. Look at how far you’ve come and see the path that you’re on. The only journey that you can be sure of, is yours. If you eliminate the time spent on comparing yourself against other people, your goals will become reality much faster.
Step outside of yourself: Take a minute and contemplate what others would see if they look at your life. There is a good chance that someone would peg attributes of your as being exceptional. But you, of course know that you have tough spots and that you face challenges. And chances are, if you do, they likely do too. Don’t forget that when imagining that their life is filled of sunshine and rainbows.
Give credit where credit is due and it will come back to you. When you see that girl at the gym with the awesome arms, rather than sitting there looking disdainfully down at your arms while she works out in the mirror behind you, look at what she’s doing. Maybe even ask her what she does – does she have a trainer? A specific program she follows? When did she start training? Rather than just assuming the person is simply ‘better’ than you, look for and recognize the strengths that they offer – congratulate them on their success and then work to add more to what you’re doing to make yourself stronger. Who knows? By congratulating someone who is very successful in something important to you, maybe they will help you to succeed as well.
At the end of the day, you are the only true competition for yourself. You are the one who you have to look at everyday and be proud of. It’s not the girl on the subway or the nice arms at the gym, that person on the ObesityHelp message boards or on Facebook clogging up your news feed. Be your best self. You are the only one living your life and you have to push forward for you. Don’t let the comparison of yourself with others slow you down! Keep plugging forward and become that very person that you admire.