We have all done it at some point in our lives.
Whether it happened because of the woman who has the figure, husband, or job we wish we had...
Or the mother who's kids seem absolutely perfect and excel in everything, making us question our own parenting skills.....
Or the co-worker who regularly receives praise from management for going above and beyond in her job, causing us to second-guess our worth in our professions...
There are endless scenarios that can lead us to comparisons to other people, but there is never a good reason to engage in this self-defeating activity.
Comparisons are the gateway to the road of insecurity and inadequacy. The moment we begin to compare any part of our lives, whether it's our physical attributes, financial status, profession, possessions, etc. to another person, it allows the little voice (whom I'll call "Little Negativity") inside of us that our self-confidence normally keeps in check, to come out of the box and take center stage. Little Negativity can't WAIT to be heard after being put in time out by Big and Bad Self-Confidence. When it's let out of it's cage, it heads straight for the mic and begins it's dreadful monologue:
"I'll never be as good as she is at my job. No one ever recognizes me. I wish I could be more like her."
"She's so beautiful. She seems to always get whatever she wants and everyone likes her. Her Facebook posts always show her traveling and having fun. Why can't MY life be like that?"
"Just when I think her life can't be any more perfect, she gets a brand new car...just like the one I wanted and can't afford! Why is everything so easy for her and hard for me? What am I doing wrong?"
"I've been trying to get pregnant for YEARS and she's already on baby #3! Why does she deserve to be a mother more than I do?"
These are just a few comments from Little Negativity, who if left to run free will quickly dissolve you into a depressed, bitter, and defeated person. The more it puts these self-sabatoging thoughts into your head, the more your mind will continue to create other similar thoughts to drive Little Negativity's points home.
But you can stop this horrible display by doing one simple thing:
FOCUSING ON YOURSELF!!
After you snatch Little Negativity by the ear and take her to go have SEVERAL permanent seats, you are now free to change your thought process and to bring yourself to the forefront of the conversation.
Understand that there will always be people you encounter who are at different phases of their journey. They may appear to have things more together than you, look better, have better experiences, etc., but there are three key things to remember when you come across someone you feel the need to compare yourself to:
THEIR journey is not YOUR journey: Because we are all going through life at different paces, you may have just come across this person right after they overcame some obstacles in their own lives. This is like seeing a runner effortlessly cross the finish line in first place, but not seeing all the blood, sweat, and tears they put in to train to get to that point. Simply put, you are seeing the FINISHED product but you have no idea of the struggles they may have gone through to get there...and likely they were the same struggles you are experiencing and will ALSO overcome.
You can only be YOU...You were never meant to be THEM: You have only been given ONE directive in this life, and that is to be the best YOU that you can be. You were never expected to be like anyone else, to compete with anyone else, to match your skills to anyone else, to look like anyone else, etc. We are unfortunately bombarded with images of what the perfect life, body, job, car, spouse, etc., is supposed to be and when we come across people who have these things, the instinct is to become wistful and wish we could also experience what is so envied by most. But the truth is, there is no perfect anything. You can only choose to seek to experience things that make YOU happy, that YOU enjoy, and that make YOU feel fulfilled. It's not your responsibility to keep checking with people around you to make sure you are up to par with them and what they are doing in their lives. That takes time away from cultivating your OWN journey. If you keep yourself grounded in your own situation and concentrate on doing what will give you the most satisfying experiences, you find you'll have very little time to worry about being like anyone else.
Watering your neighbor's garden and not your own, will turn yours into weeds: We are human, so it's impossible to expect that we will NEVER have a weak moment or two where someone else's strengths may make us feel a little bit less than we should. But constantly focusing on what someone else has that you do not will only serve to create a life journey filled with unpleasant and regretful experiences. Anytime you pay too much attention to someone else's life, it steals precious moments away from creating the life that YOU want. Constantly viewing pictures and posts on social media that make you feel inadequate, talking with others about people you envy, or comparing aspects of your activities to those of people whom you feel are doing better than you only robs you of the time to put in the work to get your life to the level you hope to achieve.
Oprah gave a great example of what happens when you worry too much about what people around you are doing in comparison to yourself. She spoke of a runner running a race who takes the time to look back and see how far ahead he was of the other athletes. By doing so, it slowed his momentum and allowed the runners behind him to not only to catch him, but also pass him. Whenever you give your energy to another source, you are empowering that source to do more, while causing you to do less because you now have less energy to power your own efforts.
Let the voice of Big and Bad Self-Confidence continue to drown out Little Negativity by consistently focusing on YOU, YOUR strengths, YOUR goals, YOUR dreams and YOUR accomplishments. Devote endless amounts of time to reviewing your life and coming up with ways to make it an even more enjoyable experience. Try new things and celebrate when you have the courage to step out of the box to get your life to the next level. The more you recognize and praise your own milestones, the less daunting it will be when you encounter someone who may be a few steps ahead of you.