Why comparing is a losing game

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Comparing yourself unfavourably with others is a negative habit that creates insecurity within, erodes self-esteem and can make you feel quite unhappy with your life.

In this age of social media, when we’re now privy to the intimate details of people’s lives, it’s so easy to play the comparison game.  But it’s a game you’ll never win.

You read about people who are travelling the world, learning languages, going to exotic resorts and restaurants, running marathons, creating an awesome business and generally living an amazing life.

When you look at these on a regular basis, it is easy to compare your boring life (looking at your phone) to the incredible lives of your friends. Why aren’t you doing more? Why aren’t you eating more beautiful food? Why aren’t you travelling or exercising or doing anything other than what you’re doing right now? Why don’t you have a better body?

When playing this silly game, I rarely measure up.  And worse, a militant part of me attempts to use this comparison, as a motivation to do more, be better, blah, blah, blah.  It never works.  I’ve never been motivated to do more by feeling less than.  I’ve never been inspired to reach higher by putting myself in the one-down position. I’ve never, ever done my best after berating myself for not being good enough.

What’s more the comparisons don’t make me happier or appreciate life more — they make me feel horrible about myself. And that’s heartbreaking.

So if you also can’t think of a single positive thing that’s come from comparing yourself with others, and want to stop this habit use the tips below.

Stop measuring yourself against someone else’s highlight reel.
People are not posting photos of themselves when they’re doing the more mundane thing. They’re not posting about their anxieties or boredom, their arguments and procrastination, their insecurities.

They are just the highlighted reels of that person’s life, the positive moments. Therefore it is not a fair or accurate apples for apples comparison.

We don’t need to be better than anyone else.
Even if you compare your highlights with the highlights of someone else, what use is that? Do the highlights in our lives need to be better than anyone else’s?

Do the highlights determine our happiness?

No.

We don’t need to be better than anyone else. We just need to love where we are and what we’re doing and who we are.

Appreciate where you are.
Happiness comes from appreciating what’s in front of you, not wishing you were doing something else. You find out what life is about by paying closer attention to it, not wishing you were living a fantasy. So when you find yourself comparing, turn to the moment in front of you and find ways to appreciate it.

Compare in a smarter way.
There will always be people who have more or nicer things than you, or are better than you at something.
So if you must compare then do it in a way that won’t make you feel envious and inferior. Do it by comparing yourself with yourself. See how far you have come. Look back at the obstacles you have overcome, what you have learned and how you have grown.

Let go of what drags you down.
If necessary unsubscribe or remove social media accounts from your life if you feel they are dragging you down and lowering your self-esteem.

Annemarie Coulson is a Hamilton based happiness coach. This is the last column that Annemarie Coulson will write for Fitness Journal as she is taking a break from life coaching and giving herself some nourishing space to explore and develop other passions.

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