The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. We all know that one, don’t we? Whether you’re into gardening or not, my question to you is this: do you practice not comparing yourself to other? And if not, how bad is your addiction to comparing yourself with your family, friends, co-workers and even strangers?
Comparing oneself to others has the same consequences that ivy growing on trees – I don’t know much about botany, but I’ve always been fascinated by this phenomenon! What it does is very simple: ivy suffocates trees making them weaker and weaker. It is not until I read the beautiful book “What I know for sure” by Oprah Winfrey that it became obvious to me that I should be more active in the process of not comparing myself.
Sharing her journey, she explained in particular that to be successful in her show, she had to look straight ahead and keep focused on her work. Soon enough, she realized that comparing herself with competitors and worrying about criticism would only drag her down and make her lose her precious time and energy. Now you might think that taking Oprah as an example of someone who doesn’t compare herself is pretty cocky. It is not. Why? Because before being the famous person she is today, she also had her beginnings and doubts. Having said that, it is her book that inspires me to write these lines today.
So why should you stop comparing yourself?
1. You only see the tip of the iceberg: we all like to think that from a picture posted on Facebook, an attitude or appearances that we know everything about our entourage and as a consequence, that we’re entitled to draw hasty conclusions. We make assumptions, we embellish the stories of our friends and families and it all seems so so much better than our existence. The fact is: people don’t like to talk about the hussles in their lives and complain for hours about this and that (well, some do like it though 🙂 ) and you have to acknowledge that some pieces of the puzzles are missing. Also, you will never know what it’s like to be in Oprah’s shoes and if it’s something that would be indeed much better than your reality. So please, please, please: stop the fantasy. Everybody has its own struggles. You just don’t know about it!
2. You’re building up resentment: when we compare ourselves to others, nothing good comes out of it. On the contrary. We build up jealousy, anger towards ourselves and sometimes even helplessness. All this is useless.You’re making yourself feel miserable based on assumptions that are – 99.9% of the time – entirely false.
3. You’re crushing your self-esteem and confidence: on top of making you feel miserable, comparing yourself to other destroys what you need the most to make your dreams come true: self-esteem and confidence. As I said before, we don’t know everything about our peers and somehow, we come to the conclusion that it’s so easy for them to achieve what they want and to be successful. How can our self-esteem get a boost when all we can think of is “Everybody gets it but me?”. Life is harsh for all of us at some point and we need to take good care about how we feel inside.
4. You’re losing precious time: Similar to watching TV aimlessly, it’s easy to spend hours comparing yourself with others. Social media make it soooo easy for us to get lost in the middle of the wedding photos of a former friend, the latest holidays of our colleagues and God knows what. If you have over 365 friends on Facebook – which we all have achieved more or less – and all these friends get married and go on holiday once a year, you will have the impression that you’re the only one that is single and that don’t go on holiday by the simple fact of watching your feed every day. I’ve established a simple rule for myself that helped me regain control of my time: NO. MORE. SPYING.
5. You’re acting against the law of attraction. Everybody is talking about the law of attraction so you might be familiar with that term already. What it says is that to achieve your goals, your attention must be focused on the things you have instead of envying people and feeling bad for what you don’t have. Radiate that positive energy that comes from gratefulness. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, even the smallest things.
6. Understand that each of us has its own timing. I used to worry a lot about timing in life: at 20 I should do this, at 25 I should do that, and on and on and on. I’ve realized that it doesn’t work like that. Each and everyone of us has its own timing. If you are not married at 25 years old with 3 kids, a dog, a house and 3 boats, maybe it is because you had other things to accomplish in your life before getting there. I remind myself everyday to live in the present and focus on my own timing. What and when other people do their things is no longer my business.
Once we’re done comparing ourselves to others or even if we’re still in the middle of the healing process, what can we do?
– Self-appreciation: there won’t be anyone more intolerant, more pitiless and harsher in its judgment towards you than yourself. If you want to live a happy and meaningful life (one of the reason I created this blog), transform the inner critic into the best coach there is. Maybe you’re not quite where you would like to be and frankly who ever is? For every challenge you take up, give yourself a high-five. It is a thousand times more powerful when it comes from you rather than others.
– Gratefulness: If you’ve read my post about my meditation routine, then you probably know that I start my day with a gratitude practice. Beside religiously filling out my 5-minute journal, I spend the 5 first minutes of my day repeating in my head thank you, thank you, thank you (for a new day!). Gratefulness is one of the best ingredients for a happy life and once you realize how lucky you are to just be alive, sleep in a bed, eat food every day, you will see how comparison is useless.
– Can you see the progress you’ve made? It’s all about the journey, not the destination! I used to believe that some people were already perfect and that I was the only one struggling with self-development. Right now what I’m thinking is this: maybe some people started their life in better conditions than I have but are they even conscious of their own luck? Improving myself every day has given me so much motivation and joy. I believe that the only person you should compare yourself with …. is your older self. How else can you really embrace all the progress you’ve made?
Lovely people, it was a pleasure chatting with you again. If you enjoyed reading this post, click on the like button to let me know! Also, I love reading your comments so I’d love to hear your thoughts about comparison and self-love. What is your story?