Comparing yourself to others is one of the easiest things to do these days. We scroll through social media and see what other people are doing with their lives, and it’s so easy to start thinking about how your life matches up to theirs.
Without even realizing it, you’re thinking about how perfect their life looks.
They’re on what has always been your dream vacation, they have a better house, they appear to be doing better financially, and so on.
Even though you have no idea what their life is actually like, you’re measuring yours against theirs, which can often lead to some really negative thoughts.
Maybe you feel you’re not good enough, not successful enough, you may feel jealous or angry, and so on. In today’s age, it can be easy to spend hours scrolling on social media and simply feel bad about yourself the whole time.
For some people, comparisons can lead to spending money to keep up with others, wasting time dwelling on others, and any number of negative behaviors.
One example I see a lot these days is comparing your progress on a goal to someone else’s. For example, you’ve set a goal to pay off your student loan debt, but someone else with even more debt than you is able to do it faster.
It’s easy to immediately think that you’re not as good as they are, which can cause you to lose motivation. Some people may get so derailed by negative thoughts that they completely give up on their goals.
However, there’s a lot you might not be thinking about in that example. Maybe that person started paying off their debt sooner than you, maybe they make more money right now, or maybe they’ve had financial help.
Social media makes it very difficult to see what’s really happening in other people’s lives, and that’s dangerous when you’re comparing yourself to others.
People often do this to determine how well they are doing in life and base their personal value on that comparison.
Sometimes that can help you spot your weakness and help you grow, but it can also lead to feeling inadequate, unlucky, unsuccessful, and more. All of that negativity can cause you to lose sight of your goals, lead to depression, and more.
Instead of being confident in yourself and proud of your successes, you’re basing your worth on others.
Comparison is the thief of joy after all.
If you find yourself comparing yourself to others and want to change that negative mindset, then I have some great tips for you today.
Whether you are trying to reach your financial goals, working towards your dream career, wanting to travel more, start a family, or something else, here are ways to stop comparing yourself to others and be happier with your life.
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1. Understand why comparing yourself can be negative
The first step to stop comparing yourself to others is to think about how it’s hurting you.
- Is it causing you to spend more than you should?
- Is it leading to debt or not reaching savings goals?
- Does it make you feel angry with yourself or others?
Start thinking about why you feel the need to compare yourself to others and think of how that may be impacting you.
By realizing these things, you’ll be able to move forward and stop wasting your time with negative comparisons.
2. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere
If you find yourself comparing your life to others, remember that we are each at different points and stages in our lives.
Stop for a second and take inventory of all the things you have achieved. These can be big life goals, like a job, a relationship, lasting friendships, graduating from college, reaching a savings goal, and more.
Perhaps you have some small achievements to consider. They can be things like getting up early to work out, creating a weekly budget, finishing a good book, making a healthy meal, etc.
Every single thing you have accomplished had a beginning.
If you can remember back to that starting point, some of them were probably easy to start and follow through on, but some may have left you feeling scared or uncertain. And, we all have different circumstances when starting on a new goal. Some of us have more experience in an area, more time, help from friends or family, or even just luck.
Everyone’s beginning is different, but we all have one.
And, the one thing they all have in common is that the possibilities for your success are endless when you focus on achieving your goals, not immediately matching someone else’s success.
3. Celebrate other’s accomplishments
Instead of feeling jealous or like it’s a competition between you and whoever you are comparing yourself to, put yourself in the mindset of celebrating what others have achieved.
This one can be difficult, but being happy for the successes of others can be incredibly joyful.
Good things can happen to other people, it doesn’t mean that your life is any less important. Plus, by being happy for others, you may learn to accept yourself and let more positivity into your life.
4. Start a gratitude journal
A gratitude journal is a way to keep track of the things you’re thankful for, and it’s a great way to get into a positive mindset.
You can keep a physical journal or make one on your phone. It can include things about the people in your life, small things others have done for you, and more. You can even add simple things, like a cute dog video that made you smile earlier today.
You can also make a list of your accomplishments as a reminder of all the things you’ve achieved. Remember, nothing is too small!
This will get you in the habit of seeing the beauty and possibility in things, instead of comparing yourself to what others are doing.
Whenever you are feeling down or comparing yourself to someone else, you can open your journal and remind yourself of all you’re thankful for.
You can find many different gratitude journals here.
5. Make your dream a reality
Now, I know that just telling you to stop comparing yourself to others is easier said than done. In today’s world, with social media and how everything seems to be on full display for the world, it is easier than ever to compare yourself to others.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, start taking action to realize your dreams.
By doing so, you’ll be able to move on with your life, reach your goals, be happy for others, and more.
Here are some actions you can take to focus on making your dream a reality:
- Realize why you are stuck in the game of comparison. You should think about why you feel the need to compare yourself to others and think of how that may be impacting you. By realizing these things, you’ll be able to move forward and stop wasting your time with comparisons.
- Don’t minimize other’s accomplishments. To make yourself feel better, you may justify someone else’s success by thinking, “Oh, well they had so-and-so, so that is why they’re successful and I’m not.” You don’t know what path someone else took to get where they are – no matter how much you think you know about their life. Instead of feeling jealous or like it’s a competition between you and whoever you are comparing yourself to, you should just be happy for the success of others. Don’t let their accomplishments make you feel like you can’t reach your goal as well.
- Be motivated, not competitive. Instead of feeling jealous or competitive when comparing yourself to someone else, you should instead turn that emotion into inspiration and/or motivation. The next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone, you could think about how you could possibly do something similar (only if that’s what you truly want to do, of course). You can use their achievements as inspiration for your own life and goals.
6. Cut the time you spend on social media
If you find yourself feeling jealous or negative when you’re on social media, then it’s a good sign that you should take a break for a while. Taking a break is taking care of your mental health.
Social media is such an easy space to compare yourself to others, and many of us have multiple apps on our phones. It’s easy to scroll through your feed for hours, and some people spend that entire time in self-doubt.
Remember, you’re only seeing the highlight’s reel online. People mainly share the positives and leave out the struggle, work, pain, and time it took to reach their goals. You never know what is going on behind the scenes or what that person is actually dealing with.
If you find that social media is dragging you down, then get off of it!
Learn more at 100+ Things To Do Instead Of Social Media.
7. Follow those who inspire you
Social media can drag you down, but it can also be a huge source of inspiration and motivation. Instead of following those who make you doubt yourself, fill your feed up with positive images and people.
You aren’t obligated to follow every friend or person who follows you online. It’s completely okay to block and unfollow people.
You also don’t have to follow the influencers who seem to have a perfect life.
One of the best things about social media is that you can curate your feed to fit your needs. There are people who openly talk about infertility struggles, dealing with anxiety and depression, body image issues, and more. Seeing these struggles addressed openly may remind you that you’re not alone.
Fill your feed with inspiring people who help you accept yourself where you’re at.
8. Accept yourself
I just mentioned acceptance, and this is important if you want to stop comparing yourself to others. Accepting yourself doesn’t mean you have to be happy with yourself, instead it’s acknowledging who and where you’re at in life.
To accept yourself, you need to be honest with yourself. Understand your strengths, weaknesses, fears, etc. I know this sounds scary, but you are limiting yourself if you don’t accept your reality.
Once you’ve been honest with yourself, you can start making a plan that lets you create a new reality.
When you are honest and accept yourself, you allow yourself to create a plan that embraces your strengths and overcomes your weaknesses. This is a very empowering way to approach your life, and you’ll no longer feel stuck or that you have zero options.
Self-acceptance can help you realize that you are able to do things, that you are in control of your life, and that little things will not kill you. Being positive will also help you move on and better deal with stressful situations.
9. Let go of who you think you should be
People often compare themselves to others because they think their life should be the same. Same house, same beach vacation, same new clothes, same number of kids, and so on.
We all start off and take different paths as we live our lives, and it only makes sense that we would end up in different places. Plus, how boring would it be if we were all the same?
I know it’s easy to look at someone else’s life and think that’s what your life should be like too.
You have to think about what it is that you really want from your life. Do you really want a big family? Would traveling full-time be something you actually enjoy? Instead of buying a brand new car, would you rather take a nice vacation?
Letting go of who you think you should be will help you stop comparing yourself to others and build the life you truly want.
10. Use comparison as motivation
Not all comparisons lead to negative thoughts. Instead of looking at people at comparing yourself to what they have (or appear to have), think about what you admire about them.
You can admire kindness, generosity, gentleness, humility, and so on. These are the traits that really define who a person is, not how much money they have or what kind of car they drive.
Kindness, for example, costs nothing. You can share it with anyone, and it’s something that makes an actual difference in your life.
You can find motivation when you start thinking about what you truly admire about people. This motivation will help you become more positive so you can start loving yourself and focusing on what you really want from life.
Here’s to taking control of your life.
If you find yourself comparing your life to others, whether it be financially, travel-related, family, or something else, I understand that it can make you feel down.
Everyone has done it – even I have played the comparison game – but that doesn’t mean comparisons need to take over your life. Spending your time feeling sad, doubting your decisions, or having other negatives thoughts is only bad for your mental health. Plus it wastes your time focusing on things that do not truly matter.
When you start accepting who you are and start taking steps to avoid negative comparisons, you can spend your valuable time making actual improvements in your life and enjoying YOUR life.
Today, I want you to take your life back and stop comparing your life to others.
Do you find yourself comparing your life to others often? What do you do to stop it?
This is exactly what I needed at this moment. I’m at the lowest point of my life at the moment. I lost my job due to Covid19, and, as a result, I’m struggling financially. This has made it “so easy” for me to compare myself to my friends and other people around me. I feel like they have everything covered while my world is falling apart.
That being said, I’ll try to remain positive because, as you put it, comparing yourself to others can make you forgo your goals altogether. Thanks a lot for the great post. I bet I’ll come back to read more of your posts for extra motivation and to learn how to take full control of my life.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I’m so sorry Brian. I hope things improve for you soon.
Great tips. It is all things in balance, isn’t it. As you say, comparison can drive you to achieve or deflate you and stop you from trying. It is good to take a whole picture into account, which you can rarely do on social media so it is good to moderate too much exposure there and better to find those that do inspire you.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Hey Scarlet! Thanks so much – glad to hear you enjoyed this blog post.
Great tips it is, comparison really kills goals and dreams. I compare myself alot with my peers, usually think I was nothing compared to them and even get insulted countless times. When you see your peers making it big and you are still struggling to make ends meet. Thanks alot for this you really made my day. I will surely come back for more.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Thank you Victoria!
NZ Muse says
Yesssss great list!
I harness envy now – I see it as an indicator of my desires, bank it as evidence of what’s possible, and then try to journal out my version of what I want and what it will feel like (vs spiralling and getting stuck in despair about not having it yet)
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
YES! Sometimes I do the same as well. It’s not always the healthy option for me, though, haha.
Dividend Power says
So many people spend their time comparing themselves to their peers, neighbors, family members. It’s a waste of time for the most part.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I like the idea of changing the idea of “comparison” to inspiring or motivating. Social media can be outlet for good if we just think of what we see in a more positive way. We post to share our accomplishments and let people know how our lives are going. When I share something, it’s not to show how better I am or for others make themselves feel bad.
This is not how I take in social media. I might feel a little jealous of a fabulous trip someone just took. But that’s just inspiration to plan my next trip.
Even still, I’ll try to remember to use those feelings in a more positive way and celebrate in others happiness too!
Thanks for sharing joy and happiness!
Dividend Power says
OK but competitive people always compare themselves to those around them. Not that it is healthy though.
Gary Grewal says
This doesn’t get talked about enough, especially in the FIRE community, so thank you Michelle for using your platform to bring it up! I forgot where I read it, but the quote was something like “The only person you should be comparing yourself to is who you were yesterday”.
This line brought it home for me: “Instead of being confident in yourself and proud of your successes, you’re basing your worth on others.
Comparison is the thief of joy after all.”