You are mindlessly surfing social media and you come across posts that make you feel bad about yourself and your life. And if you are honest with yourself, you realize you envy what others have. You think that you’ll never have what they have whether it’s their beauty, wealth, career, or their relationship. When you compare yourself to others, you assume that you don’t measure up.
So you consider taking a break from social media, but the truth is you are still comparing yourself to others offline too. You are tired of feeling lousy about yourself but just aren’t sure how to turn your thoughts around. You’ve believed your overly critical comparisons for far too long.
While I can’t promise that you will never engage in comparison again, I have found a way that you can turn that comparison head trash into heartwarming positivity. It will take mindfully looking at your thoughts, so you can catch the comparisons before you believe the negative things you are saying to yourself.
Becoming Aware of Comparison Mindsets
Awareness is the first step to any change since you can’t change what you don’t see. First, identify which type of comparison mindsets you fall into:
- Less than mindset: This mindset is any time you think that you are less than someone else. I find this is more likely to occur with people you don’t know well. Some examples: “I’ll never be able to do that. It’s already been done. I’ll never have that. I’m too insecure to try that. No one will ever love me like that. I’ll never look like that.”
- Better than mindset: This mindset is any time you think you are better than someone else. I think this is harder to admit to ourselves but is common in our most significant relationships. Some examples: “I can’t believe he did that. I would never wear that. She really doesn’t know what she’s doing. He can’t handle things as well as I can. She’s so immature (or any name you may silently call someone when you are upset).”
In reading through these examples, you can quickly see how the more you compare yourself (better or worse than others) the worse you feel. You may relate to both mindsets or struggle primarily with one type of comparison. Reflect on which mindset you struggle with the most.
3 Steps to Turn Comparison into Positivity
- Be mindful of comparison self-talk: Instead of avoiding or numbing out your thoughts, you will want to become mindful of when you enter comparison self-talk. Make a promise to yourself to gently self-monitor comparison head trash every day for a week to start. You can pick one area, type, or relationship that you compare yourself in the most. Or you may decide to be mindful of all comparison self-talk.
- Replace comparison with positivity: Catch your comparison self-talk and replace it with something that is truer than fear and more positive than anger. If you are thinking you are less than someone else, replace comparison with inspiration. And if you are thinking you are better than someone, replace comparison with appreciation. (*) Try it with a specific comparison you are currently making.
- Notice heartwarming changes: Reflect on any changes you feel in your mind and body when you replace comparison with positivity. You may notice that your heart warms to yourself or to the other person. Let the change soak in and you can turn it into reaching out to someone or moving toward something new you are inspired to try.
Here’s an example of the comparison 3-step in action: You just saw a Facebook live by a colleague you admire and you can’t help but envy the business they have created. You immediately get down on yourself and notice that your fear creeps in. And you start telling yourself how you’d never have the courage to do what she’s done. You could stop here, but you’ve made a promise to be more aware of your comparison self-talk.
So you replace the comparison with inspiration. You think you can still grow your business in a way that is true to you. Your business doesn’t need to be like your colleague’s business. Instead, you re-affirm that there is a great need for many of you to be doing this work in a way that is true to each of you. You notice you feel lighter and even a little excited. You have really taken in the truth instead of staying stuck in fear and envy.
(*Note: This post was inspired by the 40-day Inner Mean Girl Cleanse co-created by Christine Arylo and Amy Ahlers. In the 40-day practice, they share antidotes such as these to self-sabotaging habits like comparison. So chances are the people that inspire you are likely cleansing themselves of self-criticism and comparison too!)
I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. Please share how you are turning comparison around to help you be more loving to yourself and to others.
Marci Payne is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Independence Missouri who works with stressed and anxious men, women, and teens who want to love themselves as much as they love others. Schedule free 15-minute phone consult with Marci if you want to fine tune listening to the truth instead of the negativity.