How often do you compare yourself to others – your friends, family or people you see on TV or social media?
What impact does this have on your mental health and well-being?
I know personally, this is one of the worst things I can do for myself. When I compare myself to others I feel hugely inadequate. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do, when I compare myself to another person, I always come out the loser in the imaginary competition I have created.
So what impact does this have on my mental health?
The comparisons I make are always unfair. I compare myself to the top athletes, the richest, the most beautiful, the smartest people, the people that I know I’ll never be like. For example, I started doing yoga last week at home following Yoga With Adriene and I found myself getting more distracted and upset by it because I kept comparing myself to Adriene and her ‘perfect’ body, her flexibility and her looks. Why wasn’t I able to pull that move, why didn’t my body look like that, how does she stay so perfectly calm? So I basically ruined what was a perfectly nice experience by comparing myself to a woman that has been practicing yoga for years!! I found that this experience, however trivial, led to me feeling anxious and upset for the rest of the day, worrying about my looks and my yoga ability, instead of just accepting that we are at different levels in our yoga journeys.
So this week, I have decided to challenge myself to STOP comparing myself to others, and to go a bit easier on myself.
But how do I start?
- Accept yourself and where you’re at
I am going to start being kinder to myself. If I find myself saying ‘why hasn’t my work turned out like her’s? Why can’t I do that?’ etc. I am going to take a breath and say ‘because I’m not there yet’. I am my own person and I am going through my own stuff. My circumstances are different to other people’s. So I am going to accept that this is where I am right now, and I can put a plan in place to work towards improving certain areas of my life.
2. Be grateful for what you have
This is so important. I need to take time to reflect and take stock of what I do have in my life. I will do this by writing one thing I’m grateful for in my life every night in my journal.
3. Take a break from social media
If I find myself beginning to feel like crap about myself because I don’t have 70 amazing outfits, I’m not travelling all over the world and my hair does NOT look like that, I know it’s time for me to take a step back from social media. Instagram and other apps like it are basically a tool for comparison. They let people post the best snapshots of their life and when you compare yourself to that, you are again being totally unfair to yourself. I have written a blog post all about how to take a break from social media here.
4. Know that this is not the end of the road
Just because you may not have everything you want for your life right now doesn’t mean it will never happen. This moment is just that – a moment in your life. It is a chapter, not the whole book. When you compare someone’s happy ending to your own life right now, it is not a fair comparison.
5. Stop using ‘should’
I have already been noticing how much I use ‘should’ in my daily life. I should have done this, I should be better at this. I should go out, I should stay in blah blah blah. This just keeps me focused on my inadequacies and not on what I have going for me. I will make a a conscious effort to think about what I actually want. For example, last Saturday night I had no plans and decided to stay in and chill out, but I spent the whole night worrying that other people would be judging me for not going out. However, when I examined it I remembered what I actually wanted to do was to stay in. That relieved the pressure, and I thought it was nice to know what I actually want.
6. Be your own inspiration
If you really must compare, compare yourself to yourself! Think about how far you’ve come, and if you don’t think you’ve come far, think about what little things you have achieved. Write them down. Let it sink in that you have achieved things in your life. And be proud of yourself.
I hope that I’ll be able to follow my own advice here, and continue to work on myself while not comparing myself to others.
Let me know if you manage to make a difference to how you compare yourself to other people.