How do you stop comparing yourself to others?
I vividly remember the first time I felt different…
Already nervous as a rising 9th grader, I entered high school with “New Kid” status. All of my middle school friends were 25 minutes away and all the kids at my new high school seemed to have known each other since 4th grade.
Later, I would find out that the inseparable crowd that gathered in the atrium outside the gym that felt like Fort Knox had actually gone to school with one another since kindergarten.
Breaking into what I perceived as the “Cool crowd” wasn't easy, and it didn't help that I was dressed completely different.
I went from being a popular kid at my old middle school to only knowing a handful of kids at my new high school.
For the first time in my life, I was different, and that is when all the mental comparison games started.
Comparison is a dangerous game.
The first thing I noticed back in 2001 was that no one else was wearing basketball shoes and graphic t-shirts.
Many of the “Cool” kids had on jeans with Abercrombie polos. I felt so out of place that I was already mentally planning how I was going to dress differently the next day.
Little did I know as I grew older comparing clothes would turn into cars, and comparing cars would turn into comparing college acceptances.
Later in life, I would find myself comparing what I didn't have – to what other people did have!
Comparison and envy was something I would eventually have to get over in order to overcome our debt and financial insecurities. This took time and by no means was it easy (Keep reading for some tips to help stop comparing below).
We all live in a world where there is a natural pecking order and social hierarchies. It started when the first civilizations formed as they immediately started competing over land.
But instead of battling over crops or land, today's adults battle (Or compare) themselves over:
- Social prestige
- What they have/ don't have
- Their happiness
- Their title at work
- Their degrees
- Their followers on Instagram
- How much money they make
- House size
- What they look like
- What their friend's spouse looks like
- How good their kids are
- Their kid's grades
- How much money they make…. oops already said that!
12 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
1. Be Kind
Ok, let's first start with the most essential personality trait we all need to do more of:
Being kind to other people!
While this might seem like it has nothing to do with ending the comparison of yourself to others, kindness actually can have a huge impact.
When we are kind, we feel better about ourselves. When we feel better about ourselves we are happier and we make those around us feel better (And thus happier).
All of this is like a merry-go-round. A kindness merry-go-round! And when kindness is spread, you're not looking to compare yourself… because you got all the happiness you need!
2. Be Grateful
Think of this pretty common scenario:
Your co-worker gets a brand new truck (That they are struggling to pay for most likely) and you look at your paid off, worn out sedan.
How do you really feel? You probably feel like your car sucks.
Now, flip the script and look at it like this:
You're super grateful for your job, home and car. You look over at your co-worker's car and instead of comparing yourself, you instead remind yourself of how grateful you are of your car and the fact it's paid off.
Looking at your sedan you know that hard work allowed you to get it and that it doesn't matter what you drive, so long as you can get from A to B safely.
How do you feel now?
Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to stop comparing yourself to others out there!
Reasons to practice gratitude include:
- More happiness.
- More pease.
- More feelings of content.
- Stronger relationships.
- Higher value systems
- Improved self-esteem
- Postive relationships (See a full list here)
3. Be Appreciative
You can quickly avoid comparing yourself to others when you're appreciative.
Similar to being grateful, when you practice appreciation you not only feel better about yourself, but you make others feel better too. Everything including relationships, romantic relationships, and how you feel is positively impacted by practicing appreciation.
Things you can be appreciative of:
- Your job
- Your home
- Your family & friends
- Your car (Even if its a bit old)
- Your health (Even if it's not idea)
- Your ability to improve (You are currently reading to improve)
Last point. When you're appreciative you will find yourself focusing on what you do have, not what you don't have – and you will be less likely to compare yourself to others!
4. Recongize that comparing isn't fair.
Believe it or not, but comparing yourself can actually be offensive.
I recently had someone make a positive comment about my physique, but someone else followed it up with an unfair jab about how it must be nice to have good genes. The same person went on to say,
“Just wait until you have kids, not everyone can work out as much as you do.”
Essentially they were comparing their current physique to mine, however, what they weren't comparing is the discipline and consistency I demonstrated for the last 10 years that they had not.
Instead of comparing what truly mattered, they downplayed someone else's success and found themselves looking at the end result – not the process.
Another way to look at is to make sure you never “Knock others down.” Trying to degrade the value of someone else's accomplishments is not only unfair, but it can be offensive.
5. You can't control most of what you compare to!
Perhaps the most important reason to make sure you avoid comparison is recognizing that most of what you compare yourself to is actually out of your control.
Take, your height for example.
Let's say you're only 5'7″ and you have always wanted to be 6'0″. Would comparing yourself and feeling bad every time you saw someone who was 6'0″ be a healthy habit?
NO! Because no matter how much you “Tried,” the likelihood of hitting a second growth spurt in your 20's is slim to none.
In other words, it's out of your control! Comparing yourself to others when you CANNOT even control what you're comparing is… well crazy!
6. Realize You're Not Perfect
You're not perfect, I am not perfect, and if you didn't know – no one is! So why do we have this false illusion as humans that we must be perfect?
It starts with our early schooling. From an early age, we start comparing ourselves to each other based on how we do in school. We are told we need to get “A's” to be successful so we strive for perfection.
Failure is seen as a bad thing and perfection slowly becomes the only option, even though that really isn't the case! When you quickly recognize you don't have to be perfect, you will stop comparing your worst to others best (#11)!
7. Life is already challenging enough.
Maybe realizing life is already challenging enough without comparison isn't a “Strategy” to stop comparing yourself, but life can be hard.
When you realize comparison does more harm than good, it is really simple to stop comparing yourself.
With all the different ups and downs we will expierence in our lifetime, not comparing yourself to others will make the low tides easier to get through!
8. Most of social media is a facade.
Not all social media is bad, chances are you found this article either on a search engine like Google or…. Social Media!
That being said, sometimes the lifestyles people portray on social media are a facade, it's not real.
For example, let's say you're bored at work and you see an Instagram post of a friend whos outside in the sun, smiling with a beer. You immediately go into comparison mode, we all do.
We start comparing our situation (Stuck at work bored) to their situation (Having fun in the sun). When in reality, there are so many variables at play.
Recongize that a high percentage of what you see on your social media streams are people's best life, not their low moments!
9. Delete your social media accounts.
If you're finding it hard to stay off social media, where inevitably, you may just unconsciously start comparing yourself. So what is the solution…?
Deleting one, some or all of your social media accounts!
Once the anxiety of deleting your social media accounts seizes to exist, you will actually feel really good when you delete a social media app from your phone.
- Go to your phone, hold down your thumb on the app
- Once the app shakes, hit the X to delete it
- Only check social media on your computer 5 minutes here and there
Staying off social media where most present-day internal comparison occurs is vital to stop comparing yourself to others!
Remember… don't compare yourself to others, because they can't keep up with themselves!
Other ideas: Delete all your apps 1 or 2 weekends a month to take your attention off social media and put it on things that really make you happy!
10. Use comparison for motivation instead.
Their sometimes elements of comparison that are not always bad. Case in point, using comparison as motivation.
While you might be flirting with a fine line when you start using comparison to motivate yourself (You're still comparing and the goal is to stop), you can make comparison constructive.
If you catch yourself comparing yourself to others, simply flip the script once again, and ask yourself this question:
How can I motivate myself form this comparison?
So if someone got a new car and now you want one, instead of feeling bad for yourself, maybe you go find a lucrative side hustle to save up to buy your car!
11. Stop with the “Your Worst, Their Best” stuff!
The biggest problem with comparison is the fact that we do it the wrong way in the first place!
Comparing apples to apples is one thing, but we tend to compare spoiled apples to luscious fruits. In other words, we typically take our worst, most unappreciative features and compare them to others best.
- I'm short, they're tall.
- I'm skinny, they're muscular.
- I am not smart, they are really smart.
- I am not athletic, she is really good at sports.
- I struggle to communicate, he's a natural
While some of this talk can be seen as self-defeating behavior, when we do this we are really just comparing our worst to others best, a
game battle we will never win!
Keep that in mind next time you think about comparing yourself!
12. Learn to think longterm!
Part of the issue with comparing yourself to others in the first place is that it encompasses another issue in itself – short term thinking.
Comparison happens when we are unfocused, disorganized, and when we don't know what we are going after in life. So we start looking around at everything else.
Instead of looking at other people's lives, starting by thinking longterm. This will help and ideas include:
- Delaying gratification
- Setting long term goals
- Creating a vision or family dream board
Related: How to Become a Longterm Thinker
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others Final Thoughts:
At the end of the day, the only person we have to look at in the mirror is ourselves. And while we should all be grateful for our lives and appreciative of what we have, truth be told it has never been harder.
Work stress, financial stress, life events – you name it – are constantly on many adults' minds.
It' why you see the mindfulness movements and hashtags about living your best life. But living your best life first starts with learning how to stop comparing yourself to others!
In 2016 when my wife and I decided we would spend the next 4-5 years focusing on repaying our debt before having kids, the hardest challenge we had to face was the social challenges.
Learning to say no was hard, but comparing our boring life to what seemed like everyone else had – a super exciting life – was harder.
So each day we had to remind ourselves of our long term goals as a couple and eventually as a family. But after we stopped comparing ourselves and attached our emotions to our future, things got easier!
My challenge for you is to see what you can find that truly motivates you internally and attach your drive to your future! Comparison will become an afterthought in no time!
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and many more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their newborn son, their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! In case you were wondering, Josh uses Personal Capital to track his net worth and his first investment account ever was an Acorns account 😎