Sometimes I wonder if back in the days before the internet, social media, and television…if comparing plagued our psyches as much. Obviously, ‘keeping up’ has been a part of culture for some time (did you know the idiom keeping up with the Joneses is from the early 1900s?). But back then you only had like ten neighbors to compare yourself to and a handful of family members.
Now, everywhere we look, there is someone that has something we don’t. Social media and reality television can instantly serve up someone to compare yourself to. Pick literally any dimension, aspect, or part of your life and you can find someone who’s got it better than you with a quick scroll through your feed of choice.
I find myself comparing all the time. It’s evolved over time. When I was more youthful, I compared myself to women who I deemed more beautiful and fit. When I was single, I compared myself to people who were partnered. When I started my business, I compared myself to people who were well on their way and killing it. When I’m writing fiction, I compare myself to people with multiple books and have writing and storytelling that I admire. When I’m having a bad series of days, I compare myself to people who seem so mentally and emotionally ‘together.’
I know not to. And still I do it. But I’ve definitely gotten better over time in all dimensions of my life: whether it’s amount of money, love, beauty, safety, emotions, career, or circumstances….I know it does literally no good. It makes me feel like sh*t. I can’t think of a single thing that comparison improves…because you and I both know we only spend our time comparing ourselves to people who have what we don’t. We rarely do it in the opposite direction.
In my journey of minimizing comparison, here’s a few things that help me. Remember, this is a journey. It’s something that – if it’s plaguing you in certain (or many) areas of your life – can get better if you make some changes. Which you should, because comparison drains the moment of everything worth cherishing.
Celebrate, even if it feels sorta fake. When you see someone you deem as beautiful and fit….when you walk into someone’s home that’s huge and gorgeous…when someone achieves something that you’d die to do….force yourself to lean into happiness for them. Don’t recoil. Because you will not welcome into your life what you do not celebrate in others.
Log out of your comparison weak spot. If you find yourself feeling like total crap every time you’re on Instagram, get it under control. Logging out will make you think twice about the mindless browsing you do. Or set app timers on TikTok or Facebook. Whatever you have to do to limit the ‘unconscious scroll’ will help you from also unconsciously ending up in the comparison deep end.
Practice gratitude when you feel comparison popping up. As in, the moment you feel yourself comparing, force yourself to mentally name one thing you’re grateful for about yourself. A few years into writing my nightly gratitude journey, I realized I was always saying ‘thanks’ for things that happened to me, or felt like fortunate gifts in my life. So, I started encouraging myself to add in something that I’m grateful about my own self, my own choices, my own actions. We need to be grateful for ourselves as much as we’re grateful for what shows up in our life. Shifting from comparison to gratitude is the quickest way you can change the feeling of jealousy in your body.
Get mindful of when and where comparison is happening for you. Remember, whatever area that’s in is also illuminating an area of your own life where there’s potential waiting to be acted on and seen. So get after it!