Social comparison. We’ve all dealt with it. As humans, we’re wired to want to see how we stack up against one another, and comparing ourselves is the natural way we do it. In fact, studies show that as much as 10% of our thoughts involve comparisons of some kind. The result? We spend our time worrying about what everyone else is doing and not enough time bettering our own lives.
Social media doesn’t help. How many times have you scrolled through your social feed, only to come across a photo of someone buying their dream home? Or someone getting engaged? Or someone landing an incredible job? Suddenly, we find ourselves comparing our real, messy lives to someone’s perfectly curated social media post. It’s funny, if you really think about it.
While this web of comparison seems to be a constant in our lives, we have ways to help overcome it. More than anything, we’re here to show you that you don’t have to be like anyone else—it’s okay to just be like you.
Water your own grass.
Have you ever heard the term, “The grass is greener on the other side?” Well … we’re here to tell you that that is, in fact, a lie. The grass is greenest wherever it’s cared for. If we all spent as much time watering our own grass as we spend admiring everyone else’s, we’d be more satisfied with what we already have.
Okay, enough with this whole grass analogy. The point is that focusing on your own self-improvement, rather than everyone else’s, is the key to letting go of social comparison. Here are a few simple ways to shift your focus to your own growth:
It's you against you.
It’s no secret that we live in a competitive world. So many of us are focused on one-upping each other and proving that we’re the best (whatever that even means). A little friendly competition isn’t a bad thing, but is it truly serving you? Is it making you a better version of yourself? Or is trying to prove that you’re the best just burning you out?
The truth is, the only person worth competing with is yourself. How can you be better than you were yesterday, or last week, or even 5 years ago? Can you be more productive or organized? The “You vs. Them” mentality will only take you so far—make it “You vs. You.”
Focus on healthy comparisons.
Learn to be happy for someone else’s accomplishments without questioning your own ability to succeed. After all, healthy comparisons are … well, healthy. When your friend starts a booming business, or another friend gets a really cool public speaking opportunity, you have two options.
- Get jealous and allow yourself to spiral down a rabbit hole of picking yourself apart. (This is so easy to do!)
- Celebrate their success and allow them to motivate you to reach your goals, too! (This is the correct answer!)
Will making healthy comparisons come easy? No—at least not at first. The next time you feel yourself starting to make negative comparisons, run through this quick mental checklist.
The Healthy Comparisons Checklist
- Swap our negative thoughts with positivity. When you start to think, “Why can’t I do that?”, replace that thought with, “Good for them!”
- Think about how you can use someone else’s accomplishments as a learning tool. What information can you get from them that can help you make progress toward your own goals?
- Remember that we’re all human, we’re all unique, and “perfect” doesn’t exist.
Just because someone else is experiencing success doesn’t mean that you never will. Clap when others win, work hard, and most importantly, stay true to yourself. If you get one thing from this post, we hope it’s that there’s room for all of us to shine—and we all will when it’s our time.