If you want to stop comparing yourself to other people, you have to first understand why you do it in the first place. Overcoming self-comparison is a huge part of building self-esteem and improving confidence, so it’s important to get to the root of the real problem. We’re going to cover why you compare yourself with others, and three ways to stop.
Why you compare yourself to other people:
- Most of the time, the problem comes from when comparing yourself to other people makes you feel bad about yourself (i.e. comparing yourself with someone you think is more successful than you).
- The underlying assumption is that someone’s circumstances are better than yours, so therefore they must be happier than you.
- The deeper issue here is thinking that there’s a hypothetical life out there that’s perfect, easy, or problem-free, and thinking that the secret sauce to that life is some external circumstance (more money, better career, flatter stomach, bigger house, more travel, etc).
- The truth is, we don’t have a full picture of other people’s experiences because we don’t have access to what’s going on in their minds and lives 24/7. Everyone struggles.
- True happiness doesn’t come from external circumstances. It’s something that you have to create within yourself.
How to stop comparing yourself to other people:
- Commit to enjoying your life as it is now, instead of fantasizing about other people’s lives or worrying about what ifs
- When you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, take a step back and ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making?”
- Focus on improving your internal state instead of chasing external circumstances
Full Transcript – How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People:
If you live in a society with other people, you’ve probably noticed how easy it can get sucked into comparing yourself with said other people. And like me, you’ve probably noticed that most of the time when you compare yourself to said other people, it starts feeling kind of awful, especially if you have, oh, I don’t know, a social media account or access to the Internet.
In this video, we’re going to be diving into why you compare yourself with other people and how to stop comparing yourself to other people. Now, if you’re looking for some quick fixes or some surface level how-to, this video is not for you, because we’re going to be diving in deep and we’re going to be getting to the root of the problem.
Why you compare yourself to others
Now, most of the time when we’re comparing ourselves with other people, the problem comes from when we feel bad about ourselves. So we’re comparing ourselves with people who we think are more successful or somehow better than us. These are the kinds of the comparisons that make us feel bad about ourselves. So looking at somebody with more money, more success in their career, better behaved kids, a more happy looking marriage, maybe somebody has a better wedding than you or travels more or they’re more fit or they’re more outgoing and or has closer friends, etc.
The underlying assumption there is that someone’s circumstances are better than yours, and therefore they must be happier than you. (We’re getting into deep stuff right away.) You compare yourself to other people because you think that they have something that you don’t and that something makes them happier, makes their life easier, makes it so that they don’t have any sorts of problems.
You’re basically thinking, “Hey, I see this other person has this thing. Maybe if I had this thing, I would be happy, too. My life would be easier. I wouldn’t have any problems.” Then envy or resentment comes up.
The deeper issue here is thinking that there’s a hypothetical life out there that’s perfect, thinking there’s a life out there that’s super easy, that’s problem free, that’s always happy. And thinking that the secret sauce to that life is some external circumstance.
Case Study: The Midnight Library
I recently read a book called The Midnight Library.
The story begins with this woman who feels really depressed about herself and she has all these regrets about her life. She wishes that she had not broken up with this guy, and what if she had married him, or what if she had pursued her high school dream of being an Arctic scientist / explorer person? Or what if she had moved with her best friend to Australia and lived her life there? What if she pursued her passion about music?
She has all these regrets in the beginning of the book and then, she dies.
And when she dies, she shows up in this library that’s filled with just an infinite amount of books. The books are all alternate lives that she could have led, and every time she opens one of these books, she can step into her life as it would’ve been in some alternate reality, in some alternate universe, if she had made some other choice.
And so she tries on all these different lives. She has a chance to marry the guy that she regretted breaking up with, to pursue her dream of being an Arctic explorer, to try her life if she had moved to Australia with her friend, or if she had pursued her passion about music and become a rock star.
Spoiler alert: The grass wasn’t greener on the other side.
But what she learns throughout this is she’s not really happy in any of those lives.
She keeps chasing bigger and bigger things, trying to find something that will make her life perfect, that will make her life problem free, that will make her finally happy. And as she goes through all these lives, she realizes it’s not the external circumstances that make you happy because there’s no there’s no such thing as a life that’s perfect, or a life that doesn’t have any problems.
She realizes that no matter how successful or accomplished she might be, there’s always something around the corner. Every stage of life presents itself with its own set of challenges. So there’s no living a problem, free life. And towards the end of the book, what she ends up doing is coming back to the original life that she had and going “fuck it,I’m just going to be happy with what I have and learn to live, learn to love what I have.”
And the key message of this book is that true happiness doesn’t come from your circumstances. It’s something that you have to create within yourself.
Don’t worry, nobody’s life is really perfect, so stop comparing yourself to other people.
Even if you had all those perfect circumstances that you think are going to be the key to your happiness, even if you had those things, your life would still have problems.
You just don’t know what those problems are. You can’t predict those right now because from a current vantage point, you just don’t have that kind of insight, so you don’t know what problems are going to have until you accomplish that goal, until you achieve that thing, until you get that thing.
And by extension, even if you had those circumstances, even then, if you achieve those things, if you got those goals, if you lived your dream life, your life would still not be perfect. You would still have problems. Sure, maybe some of your problems would be minimized or go away, you know, if you had more money, if you had more time, whatever. But those problems would just be replaced by other problems, things that you can’t anticipate right now because you just can’t see them from your vantage point.
So happiness can’t come from external circumstances because no matter what you achieve, there will always be problems, there was always be some sort of hardship around the corner, some sort of challenge for you to face.
There’s no such thing as a problem-free life.
We compare ourselves with other people because we think that they have it easier or they don’t have any problems that we do, we think that their lives are perfect.
But the truth is, we don’t have a full picture of other people’s experiences because we don’t have access to what’s going on in their minds and their emotions and their lives 24/7. We know that we go through hard stuff because we have access to our emotions and our thoughts and our experiences 24/7. But we only see a small little sliver – and it’s usually pretty well polished – of other people’s lives. So we have no idea what’s going on with them.
And the truth is, every single person, no matter how perfect their life looks, no matter how accomplished they are, no matter how happy they look, every single person has challenges. They have difficulties, insecurities, fears, problems that keep them up at night just like you and I.
And maybe at first that’s kind of a depressing idea, this concept of “no matter what you achieve, no matter how perfect your life is, there will always be a set of problems, there will always be some challenges around the corner.”
This is actually really freeing
But in reality, it’s actually really liberating, if you think about it. Because the point isn’t to escape your problems altogether or find this external circumstance that will forever make your life perfect. And you’re always going to be happy and you’re always going to be easy because the point isn’t to escape your problems altogether. There isn’t some final destination where your life is perfect and you don’t have any problems and everything’s easy, everything runs smoothly, and you’re happy all the time. That just doesn’t exist. There will always be some sort of challenges.
So instead of constantly chasing happiness and constantly chasing external circumstances, you can focus on enjoying your life as it is now and realize that you’re free to be as happy as you decide that you want to be. Happiness is something that you intentionally create within yourself. It’s a habit, and you have to build it purposely.
And when you shift your focus to your internal state, you can stop worrying about those hypotheticals and what ifs, and you can start focusing on being present and enjoying your life as it is now. That’s a pretty liberating idea for me.
How to stop comparing yourself to other people
So how do you stop comparing yourself to other people?
By committing to enjoying your life as it is now, instead of fantasizing about other people’s lives or worrying about what ifs.
And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals or aspirations. Those are very important to have in order to give your day to day life a sense of purpose and meaning. I’m not saying don’t have goals or aspiration. You should absolutely have those. What I am saying is you need to purposely decide to start enjoying your life as it is now, even as you are aspiring towards better things for yourself.
So when you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, take a step back and ask yourself, “What is this really about?” Dig deep and figure out, “what are the assumptions I’m making about this other person’s life?”
Focus on your internal state instead of chasing those external circumstances. And that sounds kind of hard, doesn’t it? And I’m going to admit it that that’s hard. It takes a lot of intention and work to start going, “Hey, my happiness does not depend on something external. It depends on me.” That is a lot of work — I told you this isn’t going to be some quick how to or surface level fix for for these problems. It’s something that you really have to work on from within.
If you’re someone who’s always comparing yourself to other people, if you’re always worried about what other people think or trying to impress them, be sure to download my free guide on how to stop being a people pleaser.
And it contains ten strategies to start speaking up for yourself to gain more confidence and build better relationships in your life.
Please leave me any comments or questions that you have and I’ll see you in the next one.