Ahhhh, comparison. We all know that it’s the thief of joy, but that doesn’t stop us scrolling other people’s Insta-feeds when we’re feeling insecure and wondering why our lives aren’t as great as everyone elses, does it?
I’ve been comparing myself to other people my whole life. From putting myself down for being shit at netball when I was a teenager to comparing my career journey to the people I want to uni with, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying that I’m not keeping up with my peers and that I’m going to end up being left behind. The trouble with constant comparison though is that it’s a totally pointless use of energy – you don’t get anything from it, other than coming away feeling a bit rubbish about yourself.
As I’ve gotten older and a little bit wiser, I’ve learnt how to get better at focussing on myself rather than others, and I thought I’d share some tips on how I’ve done that with you all. Because, heck, if I’d spent less of my teenage years and early twenties wrapped up in comparison, I could have got a hell of a lot more done.
Here are my tips on how to quit comparing yourself to other people…
1) Get clear on what you want
I think the biggest thing that has helped me to stop comparing myself to everyone I meet (or y’know, stalk online) is getting clear on what I want out of life. Figuring out my own priorities and goals and dreams has meant that I don’t dissolve into a puddle of self doubt every time someone else does something cool.
For example, I used to spend a lot of time worrying that I should have taken a gap year or that I should spend some time working abroad. I’d see everyone posting photos of beautiful sunsets and would wonder if I should cram all of my belongings into a rucksack and head off on a round the world adventure. But actually, when I thought about it I realised that I’m a homebird at heart, and being able to own my own place and put some roots down was more of a priority for me.
Getting clear on what makes me happy has helped me to not feel like I’m missing out.
2) Stay in your own lane
Once you’re clear on what you want, my next tip is to stay firmly in your own lane. By this, I mean being laser focussed on achieveing your own goal rather than getting sidetracked by everyone else. Sometimes it might feel like you’re not getting anywhere and that everyone else is achieving more than you, and on those days it could be tempting to quit or to change path or to copy what your peers are doing.
Don’t. Stay in your own lane, eyes on the prize and workworkwork towards your own goal. It will pay off eventually, whether that’s next week or next year, and you’ll be so glad you stuck with it and followed your heart.
It can be hard not to get distracted when it seems like other people are seeing lots of success, which is why it’s really important to be clear on what’s important to you and what will bring you the most joy. It might help to make a little list or vision board that you can refer back to help keep you focussed whenever you feel disheartened.
3) Practice gratitude
This is something I’ve been doing a lot more of recently and it has really been working for me. Whenever I start to feel like I’m failing or falling behind, I make a list of all of the things in my life that I’m grateful for. It should include everything that makes you happy, whether that be your lovely family or the fact that you have a job that you don’t hate. Maybe you get to travel regularly or feel grateful that you have enough disposable income to treat yourself to a nice dinner every now and then.
Listing these things out can change your perspective instantly. It’s pretty difficult to feel bad about your life when you’re staring at a list of all of the great things you are lucky enough to have in it.
I find this also works from a body confidence perspective too – focussing on how much I like my smile makes me less fretful about the fact that my hips are never gonna fit in a pair of size 10 jeans…
4) Utilise your jealousy
Jealousy is a bit of a touchy topic, isn’t it? We’re all told that it’s an ugly trait when we’re growing up, but I think if you can harness it correctly it can be a pretty productive emotion, especially when it comes to comparison.
I’m pretty good at knowing what I want and focussing on my own goals thesedays, but every now and then I still get a bit of jealousy or envy creeping in. Rather than feeling guilty and trying to brush those feelings away, I try and analyse it a little bit more and identify what exactly I’m jealous of. It usually runs a bit deeper than it would seem at face value – for example if I feel a bit jealous when I see someone going on holiday, it might not be because I’m desperate to visit that destination, but instead I’m probably just craving a bit of downtime.
Letting myself understand the motives behind my jealousy can help to keep me focussed on what I really want.
Do you suffer from comparison? What are your top tips to stop yourself falling into the comparison trap?