How much do you compare yourself to others? Have you ever noticed how this affects your state of mind? It can be hard not to notice when someone else has the job you want, the hair you desire, or any number of other favorable traits or life circumstances. When this happens, you might find yourself lost in rumination about how unfair this feels or how demoralizing it is. Today’s blog will focus on what happens when the compare game results in us coming up short, perhaps leading to shame, or feeling deficient in some way. Comparing ourselves negatively to others can bring about painful inner states such as poisonous envy, or perhaps a searing jealousy. In these instances it can be helpful to reflect on how this feels in the body and impacts our self-esteem. It’s sometimes hard to decenter from these feelings and see that we are creating a toxic state in our own bodies by simply thinking about something in a certain way.
How do we decenter from such thoughts and move ourselves out of these painful states? How do we shift our thinking in a way that is supportive and affirmative, while still being honest with the realities we face?
Tips for avoiding the compare game and its destructive effects; see below for some simple steps.
- Awareness. Often comparisons are our dirty little secret, so they can be hard to admit to, even as we are doing them. Turn a gentle observing awareness to what is happening. Do not judge. Notice how much space it takes up, what kind of mood it evokes, and how it makes you feel about yourself. (This will need to happen repeatedly)
- Acknowledge. See if you can simply acknowledge what is happening inside. This may sound simple and not worth doing but it is an important step. (We cannot actively change something that we don’t fully acknowledge.)
- Evaluate. Does this comparison point out something that would be helpful to work on? If so, how can I approach this positively without any shame or self-deprecating thoughts? Focus on a ‘personal best’ rather than a comparison.
- Opening up to another way. See if you can recognize that the people or life-situations that you are comparing yourself to are states of being, or aspects of life, that are in continual shift. (One person may be famous for 10 years and then enter into relative obscurity, beauty comes and goes, success has its seasons, a job, and a relationship are ever changing.) Remain humble and at the same time affirm your strengths. Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do. Always remember that the ultimate, groundless being that you truly are is not comparable to anything, and is much more than the sum of it’s parts. If you can genuinely tap into this, then the compare game will ultimately become unnecessary.