Do you compare yourself to others? Well today, I’m writing about why you need to stop comparing yourself to others.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new” ~ Socrates.
At the very early stages of my career, I gave a talk to a local group about hypnosis and then at the end conducted a group hypnosis session. One particular lady came up to me as I was leaving and told me how absolutely wonderful she thought the session was and that she was going to email me about potentially working with me in my role as hypnotherapist. When she did email me two days later however, it was not what I had expected. She said that she had spoken to her friends who had loved the group hypnosis session too, but that their experiences sounded much more amazing than hers, and so she believed that she was not a good hypnotic subject and perhaps hypnotherapy was not for her after all.
Have you ever done something that you’re so proud of and feel on top of the world about until you see that someone else has done something similar that, in your mind, is better, and all of sudden you feel sad?
In Social Psychology (Festinger, 1954), comparing oneself with others we consider to be better off or superior is called upward social comparison. To then desire what they have because you believe that what you have is less valuable; it’s that “grass is greener” phenomenon. Simply put, it’s about our human tendency to believe that something on the other side of where we are, is better.
Wanting to see how you stack up against your peers, business competitors and future career competition is natural. Everyone has some kind of curiosity, a desire to know if they’ve come close to their goals or if their hard work is equally paying off in contrast to others. Some individuals may wonder how their co-worker’s performance measures up to their own or how their neighbour became so successful to purchase that brand new luxury sports car, for example. Under these types of circumstances, dozens of underlying comparisons can be made, some of which might revolve around work ethic, career choices, financial decisions, random life experiences and even as far as childhood upbringing. Making status observations is a part of human nature but dwelling on obsolete reasoning evokes insecurity, status anxiety, and a general overall dissatisfaction with oneself.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” ~Theodore Roosevelt.
According to a Stanford University study entitled “Hedonic Consequences of social comparison” by Lyubomirsky and Ross (2013) comparison is the fastest way to take all the fun out of life. It’s none of your business what other people are doing. All that matters is that you’re enjoying yourself and pleased with what you’re creating. It’s precisely your uniqueness that makes you awesome.
The reasons behind this human tendency are quite fascinating. According to social comparison theory, this drive is part of our basic desire to understand ourselves and our place in the social world. Dwelling too much on these judgments has a detrimental cost, so instead focus on how we can overcome this tendency to compare and/or constantly desire something on the other side of where we are; especially when it’s self-limiting, or interferes with us being our best selves. Our journey towards overcoming begins with a brief lesson on dichotomous thinking. Dichotomous thinking presumes that a given situation has only two choices, e.g., good or bad; right or wrong; desirable or undesirable, and tends to occur in an automatic fashion outside of our awareness. Dichotomous thinking limits our ability to recognise the range of choices available to us in a given situation.
The problem with comparing yourself to others is that not everybody has exactly the same life. Sure, you feel better by assuming that someone is more accomplished than you because they had it easier or their achievements evolved under special circumstances, but in reality, they may have worked longer and harder to get to where they are. There are simply too many variables that contribute to who and how we are, it makes comparison a ridiculous thing to do. Social comparisons are flawed due to the biased reasoning that every individual in your reference group is completely identical to oneself and subject to the same environment.
You are your own person and you should have your own measure of success. Every single individual has a unique skillset and personality, among many other factors, and attempting to just copy another person’s achievements is foolish. The real key to success is finding your own path and providing merit based upon how you define your accomplishments, not how others would. Of course, we can learn from others, attempt to emulate them and even model successful strategies, techniques and approaches of those who have been successful, but comparing ourselves in a way that we find deflating or defeating is problematic.
Be happy with where you are and how you got there. Reward yourself for all the milestones you’ve reached and all the achievements you’ve worked so hard for. And most importantly, continue to tirelessly chase your goals, but do it without the fear of failure and without comparing your progress to that of others.
Ask yourself how can you become a new and improved version of yourself? If you have to compete, compete with your own potential. Trying your best and not succeeding is not the failure. The real failure is in not even trying or trying but not giving it your best shot.
Being our best selves begins with spending time focusing our attention on aspects of our own situation, rather than on comparing it to others. Thinking beyond a dichotomous paradigm provides opportunities to explore ways of transforming our situations into what we’d like them to be. Simply put, this approach enables us to invest the time, energy, and resources we would have spent comparing and trying to ‘measure up,’ into embracing ourselves and creating change in our own environment.
Work on getting yourself to focus on the real stuff that matters. This is why having goals and passions and a focus is so important! It helps you to focus on something worthwhile, helps you to continue to move forward, it’s something you can get excited about, you can continue to grow and expand through following these goals and passions, and all this helps move you beyond your world in your head.
When you believe in yourself and have confidence, by default you come to love and honour yourself and want the best for yourself. You demand only the best for yourself, you realise you are deserved, and you are happy living. Here are a number of articles to help you develop your belief in and love for yourself:
a) How To Believe In You – 9 and a bit Ways To Advance Self-Belief.
b) Believe in Yourself!
c) Creating Your Superhero Alter-Ego Using Self-Hypnosis To Boost Confidence.
d) 6 Ways to Overcome Self-doubt.
e) Using Self-Hypnosis To Love Yourself More.
When you have confidence in yourself, you also stop comparing yourself to others because the only one you want to compare yourself to is you, and all that matters are the positive changes you are making in your life for yourself by yourself.
Life isn’t a competition; it is a journey. The only competition here is with yourself. Compete with yourself and you’ll see growth in your life. When you compete with yourself, you start with the old version of you and work on becoming the new and better version of you.
A few years back on this blog, I referred to a piece of research conducted at Baylor University entitled “Why are materialists less happy? The role of gratitude and need satisfaction in the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction” by Tsang and colleagues, published in the Journal of Individual Differences (2014) that suggested that if you are a materialistic person you are more likely to also be depressed and unsatisfied with your life.
The study and my related article highlighted something that is really relevant here today – that there is often a gap, a chasm, that exists between where we are and where we want to be – the gap creates dissatisfaction in many. The idea presented in this research is that by continuing to focus on what you want, you are inherently aware of what you don’t have, which in turn makes it harder for you to appreciate and be satisfied with what you do already have. When you compare yourself to others, you yearn to have what they have, be where they are, you create dissatisfaction with your own life and your own self.
Psychology research (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons & Larson, 2001; Froha, Sefickb & Emmons, 2008; Grant & Gino, 2010) tends to suggest that gratitude has an important role to play when it comes to combating the negative effects of comparing ourselves to others.
Being grateful for what you have and what you have done is something that you can do at anytime to receive the benefits. It is a major antidote to negative feelings that are caused if you compare yourself to others. What’s more, it’ll help you to stop comparing yourself to others in the first place. Many authors tend to believe that if you want more of something, then simply be grateful for the things you already have. I don’t want to reach that far even. Simply use gratitude to advance your degree of satisfaction with your own life.
So develop strategies and psychological approaches whereby you stop comparing yourself to others, then learn to express gratitude about yourself and your own life. Incidentally, I no longer tend to deliver group hypnosis sessions at local groups or presentations, I do offer group sessions on my courses, but today when I am giving presentations to groups as part of marketing my business in particular, I do demonstrations on individuals that are impactful and impressive for the others in the room and so that they do not all compare their experiences with each other afterwards.
Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.