How to stop your habit of comparing

Have you ever stopped to think about how often you compare yourself to others as you go about your day-to-day life? It may be that you check out other people’s clothes, hair, body shape and size whilst killing time on public transport. You might look at friends’ social media following, number of comments or likes, appreciating their seemingly perfect and flourishing lives.

We’re all guilty of ending up on our friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s sister’s Instagram page…

Now, before panicking about how often you may do this, know that it’s normal behaviour and even those who look like they don’t compare themselves to others often are. Today, we’re drawing attention to this topic because comparison-checking is often a big feature of our clients’ recovery journey. The act of comparing so often brings more bad feelings than good – but it is possible to stop or reframe this experience.

Brene Brown in Daring Greatly states that our attempts to weigh up our peers is rooted in an inherent feeling that we’re “not good enough”. Summarising it nicely:

“I can see exactly how and why more people are wrestling with how to believe that they are enough. I see the cultural messaging everywhere that says that an ordinary life is a meaningless life…we are all vulnerable to the messaging that drives these behaviours…when love and belonging are hanging in the balance, we reach for what we think will offer us the most protection.”

But – as Brene states so eloquently – when we humanize these behaviours and allow ourselves to investigate them, we can begin to see the real drivers and can work to heal them. If you struggle with comparing yourself to others, and often find that negative feelings of “not being good enough” arise, here are 3 things you can do to reframe and reshape your experience of witnessing others.

Reconsider your social media feeds

When we’re browsing through social media feeds, we’re judging ourselves against someone’s outer world – not their inner world. Social media is driven by positive engagements, meaning that often people’s posts will strive to reinforce the positive. As a result of this, when we’re comparing ourselves to someone on social media, we’re comparing ourselves to information that isn’t fact. It’s worth doing a social media “review” to clear out anything that causes you to reflect negatively on yourself – it’s okay to follow accounts that encourage you to love yourself and it’s okay to unfollow people who cause the opposite.

Your perspective is your power

To build on the point above, we’re conditioned by societal norms to seek validation from others. We often look and see what we want to see as opposed to the reality. This means that if we believe we are unattractive in one way or another, we will look for things to reinforce and validate that message. For instance, we may see someone we perceive as beautiful and think “look how beautiful they are, I just do no compare.” …Isn’t this awful?

We can tackle this by firstly being aware that this is our pattern of thinking. If we understand that it’s become ingrained enough to feel like our reality, we can begin to question it and reverse it. It doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate others – just that we don’t size ourselves up against them. You might want to read our blog post on body image and how perspective is key.

Look after your trigger points

We all have positive and negative triggers but we need to be mindful about whether these triggers are motivating for us or detrimental to our growth. An example of this is when you’re feeling super tried and scroll through social media only to be left with extreme “fomo” and questioning what you’re doing with your life. If we know that we’re more susceptible to feeling this way when we’re tired, we can choose to avoid using social media or limit the amount of time that we spend on it. Triggers exist, but it’s how we use them to motivate positive behaviours that reinforce our healing and growth. This, ultimately, builds resilience that can seep into all the different areas of your life.

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