Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others


From a young age we have learned to compare ourselves and what we have to others. Little Mary has the prettier doll or Johnny has better snacks in his lunchbox. It's no surprise then that as we get older the comparison progresses further to the level of education and career opportunities, wealth, physical appearance, the size of a home or a shiny, new car. At the root of all comparison is really just fear and jealousy. Fear that you may never be as fit, as successful in a chosen career, as good of a cook or even as pretty as another and often times feelings of jealousy will come about as a result. It also has a lot to do with our innate need for reassurance.

Today's post was inspired by an acquaintance and her husband. In the past they've shared with me that they feel the need to keep up with the Jones' and as a result, it has kept them on a treadmill of performance. Every party they throw, gift they buy one another and home they purchase is trendy, a financial stretch and grand. It has ultimately kept them from being truly content and it has spilled into other areas of their life.

All of this comparing contibutes to a low self esteem which isn't helpful. Often times when people compare themselves to others they end up comparing their own weaknesses to the other person's strengths. This is hardly a fair or accurate comparison.

The truth is that we were all given unique skillsets, relationships, beauty, intelligence, a sense of humor and creativity. We've all been given specific opportunities at different times and choose to make sacrifices which may be different from that of others. For example, some friends and acquaintances have confessed to hubby and I that they would love to travel and visit the countries we step foot on, but the truth is that we save and sacrifice in many areas to make it happen. We traded renovating and giving our home the ultimate design overhaul, along with having just one solid car versus two (it turns out that for nearly 4 years we really haven't needed a second car anyway, just a rental here and there), to see the world at a time when we do not have little ones. It is available to many, but there is a cost.



We would all be wise to learn from some of the most successful people. They keep their eye on the prize, work diligently and don't have time to waste looking in the rearview mirror or out of their side windows at their competition either. The key is to work towards your own goals and dreams and forget about 'what everybody else is doing'. Many women worry that they won't be a good enough mother or wife. Just being there for your spouse and children and loving them wholeheartedly is what matters most. We don't do ourselves any good by worrying about things in advance. All we can do is give life our best effort every single day and know that we are moving forward in new and positive ways.

If we aren't happy with where we're at, a change may be in order. Sometimes a bit of 'healthy' comparison to someone whom we admire is just what we need to catapult ourselves in the right direction. Do learn from them but don't try to become them.



5 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself with Others


1. Become Aware- Try to immediately recognize when you start having feelings of comparison. Many people do this unconsciously, but it is important to make yourself aware so that you can change your thought pattern to something productive and positive.

2. Focus on the Good-In these moments tell yourself what you love about yourself or think about what you are thankful for. For example: Maybe it's your wit, smile, beautiful children, amazing husband, etc. Do not spend time dwelling on or beating yourself up about what you don't have. Also, think about your strengths. Take the focus off of your weaknesses or past failures and praise yourself for the things that you do well. Be proud of yourself and move towards your goals with only your strengths in mind.

3. Embrace Imperfection- Acknowledge the fact that nobody in this world is perfect, no matter how others may appear from the exterior. Endeavoring to 'improve' and become your personal best is a valuable use of your time and energy, striving for perfection will only make you feel frustrated. The imperfections make you who you are and in fact make you 'perfect' just the way you are. There will ALWAYS be someone faster, funnier, smarter, more fit, more youthful looking for their age, the list goes on.

4. Compare Yourself Only to YOU- One of the single best methods for measuring success is not by competing with or comparing yourself with others but it is by becoming a little bit better than you were last week, last year or even last decade, etc. Focus on your overall journey of life. Life was never intended to be a competition. We are all on our own journey to learn, love, create and become. That journey doesn't have anything to do with how other people are doing, or what they have. It does, however,  have everything to do with what you want to do, and where you want to go. That should be the only focus.

5. Discover Your Purpose-The most important thing you can do for yourself is to find your purpose in this world. If you have not yet found it, you may want to read multiple books on the subject, spend some time alone thinking about what you enjoy most and what you most dream of doing, if money were no object. You may also want to invest in a life coach who can help reveal to you (based on information that you share with them) what your purpose might be. By learning what your unique purpose is, you'll find new meaning and passion in your life that you never knew before. When you have a laser-like focus on what you are called to do, these comparisons and the thoughts about what everyone else is working on (or which direction they're going in) will become unimportant. You'll be so busy fulfilling your own life's calling that you won't have time to dwell on or compare your life and yourself to others.

ONE FINAL NOTE....

Be especially wary of comparing yourself to celebrities, political and public figures or those with extreme advantages. Even though they might serve as inspiration or a role model in your mind, you cannot ignore their priveledges. As it pertains to beauty (because so many women struggle with this area), many female singers, actresses, socialites and political figures have access to pricey personal trainers, makeup artists, publicists to promote their career, hair stylists, clothing designers and stylists and wealth that are not the norm for most. Imitating their fashion on a budget is one thing, but putting yourself down because you don't look just like Heidi Klum after having four kiddos is another. After all, a lot of times fashion editors use a little tool called photoshop. *wink*

I'd love to hear your thoughts or personal stories. As always, anonymous comments are welcome. :)

Have a lovely day!




*images: (1) (2)

14 comments:

  1. It's weird to find out your post of today captures my struggle of today.....sometimes you those days.....you must also know them....you try and try and try even harder, but it seems just not enough.....before, I used to beat myself up over it, but lately(and today fits in perfectly, in lately;)).....I try to keep breathing, look for the "little"things and surround myself with people who REALLY know me....that gives me power and confidence to step out there again......maybe later today...or tomorrow.
    This is me, this is who I am, this is what I want, just respect that, give me some room, and I will get there.....I respect each person outthere, I don't interfere in their lives without being asked;).....so....I have that right too.
    Maybe I'm not tall and goodlooking and yes I'm too heavy(still;)), but I'm funny(people say;)) and loyal, and caring......SO??????;)
    THank you for the mirror;)....needed it! And HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!

    X
    Lynda

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  2. Hi.
    First, I am glad to have discovered this blog. Intelligent and indeed classy but I see the depth of your thought.
    Regarding the subject of comparison. I agree with all the points. I would add perhaps one more. 5. Discover what is your purpose or talent is in life. It may not be becoming a model or look like ..I don't know, Beyonce (spelled it right?) but it could be..florist or writer or a mother. Being a GOOD mother is the hardest job. Anyway, that's it for now. I could go on and on and on.....

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  3. Thanks Ladies for your comments! :) Lynda don't worry, you already ARE good enough. Whether anyone else thinks so or not, the most imporant person that needs to believe it is you.

    Maggie, thanks for stopping by! I totally agree with tip #5. I believe if more people actually knew WHAT their purpose was, a lot of the feelings of comparison would be alleviated.

    I only mention outward appearance and monetary things multiple times because it seems to be what most of the world struggles with. I don't know a single woman that hasn't compared her beauty to another, I thought it was appropriate. ;)

    As a matter of fact, I'm going to update my post to include your point because knowing your purpose is one of the most powerful things in life!

    ~K

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  4. I struggle with this constantly and in fact, I'm growing through this struggle now. Not only with the comparing yourself factor, but worrying about how others perceive me and weather or not they like me or not. It's a constant battle dealing with the negative people and I just have to tell myself I can't control or change people, but I can only change myself and be myself and control my own actions and how I deal with it. I have to remind myself this every.single.day.

    Thanks for the post, I needed this today!

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  5. Thanks for the wonderful post and blog, lately I have been dwelling on this same subject. Feeling less than adequate since a child. I always ran from relationships because I thought the guy was *lying* just to get *something* from me. I know realize that I am not so bad after all, and actually those people were possibly jealous of me! Shame it took me almost 30 years to recognize it. Now I am focusing on getting over my insecurities in order to love people fully with out fear.

    Thanks again for the reassurance...

    -Sara

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  6. Lindsay and Sara, I'm so glad that this post was just what you need and that it could be a blessing to you. Sara, I'm happy that I was able to reassure you. :)

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  7. Hi Karla!
    I loved this post!
    What true, right and practical advice!
    I can't say that I don't struggle occasionally with an assortment of issues ;)
    But, for the most part, I know who I am in Christ, and am so happy and truly content with what I have.
    I am compelled however, to share this post on my FaceBook page!
    It blessed me and I know it will bless my friends!
    Hugs,
    me
    P.S. We had only one car for 7 (SEVEN!) years. That taught me to be BLISSFUL when we paid cash for my SUV!!

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  8. Leslie: I feel the exact same way. When you remember who you are ain Christ, any feelings of inadequacy just melt away. He created us just the way we are. :)

    Oh, yes please share it with your facebook friends. Wow-7 years! You know the funny thing is about 8 years ago I met a couple who shared a car (this was rare for me) and my words at the time were, "Oh, I couldn't never do that. I enjoy having my own car". I guess someone wanted to show me that I CAN do it and it's really not all that bad. One day when we get car #2 it will be that much sweeter!

    ~Karla

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  9. thanks for this karla. it is wonderful & EMPOWERING. I have had to learn to love my curves. I do pretty well until I see my reflection in a plate glass window. A year of seeing a wonderful counselor helped me to LIVE IN THE MOMENT more than anything else. So much is out of our control that looking too far ahead (& worrying about it) means you are missing what is right in front of you. i'm going to follow this lovely blog.

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  10. Karla, thanks for the link to your post. The tendency to compare ourselves with others can go unnoticed for quite some time. There are so many messages that tell us we need more and should have more. I especially like what you said about comparing our weaknesses to others strength! So true! I love your layout by the way.

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  11. What a fantastic post! Thanks so much for sharing this with me. I'm going to link to it on Twitter. Now off to explore the rest of your blog :).

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  12. This is a wonderful post. I find it can become an unconscious habit to compare myself to how others are doing. It helps to read posts like this because it reminds me to reflect on what is really important :)

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  13. It's late but I'm glad I found your blog and this post today. This is exactly what I need at this moment. This week has been quite stressful and feeling underachieved compared to others around me who already reached (or at least few steps closer to) our mutual goals clearly doesn't help me to be more productive. It feels terrible and it affects people I love. This really help me, thank you! :)

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    Replies
    1. Nanda, I'm so glad you found it and it was what you needed to hear at that moment. I've been in that place before, I really do understand where you're at. The most important thing to remember is that we compare ourselves against what we did yesterday and not everyone else. Easier said than done but it really make a difference in how we feel! :) Thanks for leaving a comment.

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Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :) I look forward to reading your positive, inspiring and interesting thoughts! *Please note I remove all spam which includes shameless self-promoted posts with blog/website links. This comment space is for quality dialogue, not advertising.

Warmly,
Karla

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