When I shared 10 Ways to live an Extraordinary Life, I learned that some of you are struggling with comparison. My third recommendation to live an extraordinary life was …
Stop comparing. Someone will always have more or less than you. There will always be someone who is better or worse at what you do. You can’t assess who you are or what you have based on others and if your focus is on what they have or do, you can never fully appreciate all of the extraordinary blessings in your own life. Even your past and future cannot be measuring sticks for your life today. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
Based on your response and my own actions, it seems that comparison is a hard habit to break. While I compare much less than I used to, it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap.
To help with your/our struggle with comparison, I want to offer some alternatives to just stop, because if we could all just stop, we would. It’s sort of like someone telling me that if I want to lose weight I have to move more and eat less. True? Yes. Helpful? Not really. I understand the science, but how can I change my behavior?
3 Strategies to consider if you are struggling with comparison
1. Compare Fair.
If you are going compare, make a fair comparison. Compare apples to apples and compare up and down. What I mean by that is sometimes we use comparison to justify our behaviors, by noticing how we do something better than someone else. Other times we use comparison to put ourselves down and to measure our own situation to someone else’s much better situation. In essence, we compare to make ourselves feel good or bad. Instead, compare up and down. When you compare one way, compare the other way too. This practice reveals the pointlessness of comparison.
You’ll realize that no matter if you compare up or down, you are still exactly where you were when you started. If you don’t want to be there, move.
2. Own it.
Write it down. Roll around in it for a bit, and then own the fact that no matter how much you compare yourself to others, it doesn’t matter. The fact that someone makes more money probably isn’t the reason you are making less. The reason you are don’t feel well is not because someone else looks really fit and healthy. Comparison can stem from discontent with who you are and what you have. Once you understand your discontent, you can make changes that will matter. Writing about it and truly owning your thoughts and actions is the first step to figuring it out.
3. Never compare your inside to someone else’s outside.
Someone brilliant said that first, but I’m not sure who it was. This practice of comparing how you feel about your life on the inside to how someone else’s life looks to you on the outside is dangerous. You don’t know the whole story. It’s not an accurate comparison and the process results in feeling like you aren’t good enough. You are.
We learned how to compare ourselves to others from the moment our kindergarten projects received a grade and maybe even sooner. We hear other people try to compare us to others to learn where we fit in, and naturally learn the behavior for ourselves. The good thing is that if had the power to learn it, we have the power to unlearn it. Practice these strategies, and be mindful of when and how you compare.
Your life holds too much beauty and promise to compare it away. With practice, you can replace comparison with gratitude. Appreciate what you have, and who you are, and encourage the best for everyone around you.