I have to confess; I am very guilty of comparing myself to others. I always notice what other people have and use this to highlight what I’m lacking. This is something that I’m working on, but it’s a bad habit that can be hard to break.
The inspiration for this article actually came after one of my dance classes a few months ago. I hadn’t been satisfied with my performance for a few sessions.
Throughout the class, I focused my attention on a girl who was dancing excellently, and I felt annoyed. Not annoyed at her, but with myself for not dancing as well. I thought, “you can’t align three steps. Whereas she has the rhythm. She learns the choreography quickly. She has style.”
After a while, I noticed that I was working myself into a negative spiral. I realized that I was so deep in my negative self-talk that I wasn’t focusing on the music, the choreography, or my teacher. How could I expect myself to perform when I’m so focused on other people rather than myself? I was so drawn into what I didn’t have, that I stopped focusing on all the great things I did have.
I made a promise there and then that I would put all my energy and focus on myself. That night I went home after a particularly bad performance, rushed inside, dropped my stuff, and immediately started practicing my dance in front of the mirror. And to my surprise, I danced better alone in front of my mirror than I had in any of my classes. It wasn’t my skills that were holding me back, but rather my constant comparison to others.
So the following weeks that passed, I attended my class with the intention to only focus on myself and my dancing. Anytime my eyes wandered towards the girls who I thought danced well, I would quickly bring my attention back to the mirror in front of me. I realized that over the months of attending dance classes, comparing myself had become such an automatic habit.
But at the end of that class, I completed one of the best dance routines I had done in a long time. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I felt confident and focused, and that’s what mattered to me.
I realized that I had to make a conscious effort to stop comparing myself to others, it was something that I had to work on. Even though I knew comparison could affect your self-esteem, I had no idea it could affect your performance too!
Since then, I’ve continued to be mindful of when I compare myself to those around me. And even though it hasn’t stopped for good, I’ve developed a few techniques that have helped.
Be aware of your thoughts
The first step is to realize when you are comparing yourself.
As I mentioned, comparing yourself to others can become so automatic so that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. So make an effort to catch your negative thoughts when they do arise.
By noticing when you have a negative thought about yourself, you start putting some distance between yourself and this comparison, labeling it as a thought rather than something that is a fact.
When you realize you are comparing yourself, simply think, “Okay, I’m comparing myself, ” and change the focus.
Be grateful for what you have and who you are
Focus no longer on what you lack, but rather on what you already have. Being grateful for what you have is a key factor in achieving inner calm and happiness. So be sure to express gratitude for the big and little things in your life.
A great way to do this is to list three things you’re grateful for just before you go to bed or first thing in the morning. Happiness is not having what you want but instead appreciating what you have.
Work on your self-esteem
I know that if I compare myself to others is because I have a lot of inner self-doubts, which stems from insecurity.
The road to self-confidence is a long journey and isn’t one that happens overnight. It is a daily practice that requires patience and perseverance. So every day, take small steps towards increasing your self-esteem.
Think about your strengths, your talents, and all that you have accomplished. Celebrate your victories and be proud of them.
I still haven’t reached a level of self-confidence similar to Beyoncé, but the fact that I have achieved certain objectives I set for myself has made me feel proud and confident in my own abilities. And if hitting your own objectives isn’t enough, call your friends and family who can help remind you how great you are.
Your story and challenges are unique to you. There is no right or wrong answer in the journey to success and self-confidence because we all have different goals and backgrounds.
If you are at a stage in your life where you don’t feel satisfied with yourself, your choices, or your attitudes, remember that this doesn’t define your life or who you are.
This is a chapter in your book, and that book isn’t finished yet. You have the power to write the rest of the novel exactly the way you want. Your life today does not define your life tomorrow.
The Monk Matthieu Ricard stresses the importance of not identifying with our mental state and, in turn, not allowing oneself to be defined by it. You don’t go to the doctor and say, “I’m the flu.” So even if your state of mind is negative, this doesn’t mean that you are a negative person, this is something you have the power to change. ,
Be aware that perfection is just an illusion
It is good to want to work on yourself, but it’s also important to understand that perfection doesn’t exist. Our imperfection is what makes us human.
“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.” – Andre Berthiaume
The masks others wear in public prevent us from seeing their genuine doubts, fears, and flaws. We must understand that our perception of others isn’t always accurate.
Be aware if you regularly idealize others and devalue yourself. Find a balance, and you can still admire other people but understand that you also have many great attributes.
Additionally, take a step back from social media. People on social media only show us the parts of their life they want us to see, and in turn, can leave us feeling like our life is nothing in comparison. This can make you feel frustrated and unhappy. But social media is like a Disney movie: It is made up of stories.
“Simplicity does not consist in depriving oneself of what makes us happy, but in getting rid of what separates us from it” Matthieu Ricard.
If you need to compare, compare with yourself
There will always be richer, funnier, and more successful people in the world. If you always compare yourself to others, the comparisons will be endless, and in turn, we will be endlessly unhappy.
So if you want to compare yourself against anyone, it should be yourself. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Compare yourself so that you can better yourself every day. Compare who you were yesterday against who you want to be tomorrow.
Observe your progress and your journey. Comparison is only worthwhile if it helps you grow and develop.
When you spend time comparing yourself to others, you waste precious energy that could be used to work on yourself. Time is not infinite, so don’t spend your precious minutes focusing on others. Spend that time investing in your dreams, goals, and self-esteem.
Remember that you are the creator of your own life.
Life is not a competition
Often we feel like we are in constant competition with others. Who has the best car, the biggest house, the most glamorous (airbrushed) pictures from our holiday. But life is not a competition. It is a journey. And this journey isn’t about having materialistic things, but it’s about being and feeling.
To be fulfilled, to feel calm and content. Competition has no place in our journey because our experiences are personal to us and can’t be compared to other people’s.
And just as life is not a competition, those around us are not our competitors. Sometimes we criticize others for feeling better about ourselves. But encouraging people to succeed can be very beneficial for us too. We will give out good energy, and life will reward us with the same in return. I think the phrase “We don’t grow up making anyone smaller,” sums this up perfectly.
There’s a book I love called “Freedom for all of us.” It is written by three people: A philosopher, a psychiatrist, and a Buddhist monk.
In this book, they invite us to celebrate the qualities of others, enjoying their accomplishments and successes. They say by doing this, you can increase your own progression and feel more content in yourself. Celebrating others is the antidote to jealousy.
The success of others is not at the expense of our own. It’s not their happiness against ours. So jealousy and comparison have no place.
However, you can turn comparison into inspiration. You can be inspired by people, taking note of what they’ve accomplished and using this to motivate you in your journey.
Comparison can generate negative thoughts and feelings towards ourselves and others. Feelings of depreciation, envy, and resentment are not pleasant, rewarding, or useful. They do not enrich our lives, but rather jeopardize our happiness.
When I compare my dancing to other girls in my class, I forget to listen to music, I forget the choreography, and I forget to have fun. In short, I forget to be happy, and that’s not what life is about.
So, instead of devaluing yourself, use that energy to believe in yourself. Life is too short to compare ourselves to others. Instead of resenting people for their achievements, encourage and be inspired by them. Instead of comparing, be grateful for all the great things you already have, because there is so much to be thankful for if we just take the time to look.
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” – Montaigne