How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
and be Happy!
ShoomKloom Editorial Staff
“I didn’t ask you to be like her or him; I asked you to be you!!” (a quote by God herself)
Comparison Eats Away Our Own Joyfulness
Comparison really sucks! Maybe a blunt statement but I am speaking here from my own experiences. I have been in agony comparing myself to others and created stress for no reason. When I see this comparison from a distance; it is easy to tell myself: ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING? JUST STOP IT!’
- Of course I am unique!
- Of course everyone is different.
- Of course comparing is stupid.
And in a way there is nothing wrong with comparison in itself; but what is stupid is what I do with it. Like getting completely stressed, tense and full of anxiety, believing that I am worse (or better) than someone else and non stop circling in negative thoughts so that I feel worse and worse about myself.
We can easily lose ourselves in evaluating our social and personal worth on how we stack up against others (regarding attractiveness, social status, wealth, career, intelligence, relationship or FB Likes). We are bombarded with photoshopped images, from magazines, commercials and movies; on guard of being called fat, stupid or old; trying to look our best with the latest fashion, diet and beauty cream.
Barbie and Ken are just examples of how we are manipulated (consciously or unconsciously) in taking on these unrealistic beauty measures. From all directions, society tells us what we should: do – be – have and achieve. Comparison can easily become our second nature.
‘Do you ever totally let your guard down to show your true colours? How often do you criticize yourself even when you are alone and nobody else is watching? How do you talk to yourself when you look in the mirror?’
I will take you on a brief journey through the pitfalls of comparison. By sharing some of my personal story, I will tell you what works for me to stop pedalling these nagging comparison thoughts.
What are the Direct Results of Comparison?
Comparing is an occupation in our minds resulting in mental, physical and emotional tension. It affects the way we see, present and carry ourselves in life.
For me it is a distorted vision and affects strongly the way I talk to myself. When I get stuck in comparing mode, my sense of self worth evaporates, all what I think is wrong about me surfaces and someone else has each desired quality I wish I would have.
- a chattering mind (non stop monologue)
- feeling moody, stressed & anxious
- low self worth and being self-conscious
- self harm (physically, emotionally and mentally)
- poor attention span (not being present)
- distorted vision about self, body and talents
Comparison is losing ourselves in a wrong vision and is far away from being kind, caring and respectful with ourselves.
As a small child, comparison was not on my mind. I was just happy being myself. There was all the space to be me; one moment playing, then laughing/ crying with no care in the world. Full of wonder. There was nobody else to compare myself with. The thought to compare didn’t even arise.
All that changed at some point. Through watching TV, social expectations and connecting with other kids. Someone at school was more clever, cute or pretty. Another kid was better or worse in drawing, writing and sports. I wore glasses at 5 which meant I became ugly. Achievements were praised. Therefore good points felt good (= I am good); while making stupid mistakes was bad (= I am bad). I started to rate myself and others according to points and accomplishments.
In my early teens brand clothing was added (which I didn’t have) and looks (I was the one with ugly glasses). Then there were popular and pretty girls with a boyfriend (I had none of that). I struggled to make friends. For sure this meant that there was something wrong with me; if only…
If only I could be more like them, then I shall be happy; no?
If only I would be like someone else. If only I could be better looking, famous, wealthy or be someone important. How will I ever get there? I need to have the best career, relationship, happiness, sex, appearance and status. Because then I will be happy, no?
‘Do you recognise yourself in some of this? When did you start to compare yourself? Can you see how much stress comparing creates?’
What I Needed to See About Comparison.
In 2015, I joined ShoomKloom self investigation classes and questioned my thoughts, beliefs and ideas. I came to see what this ‘comparing’ is really about. And how I got stuck in the comparison game.
1. The trap of misidentification.
I was so identified with each thought about myself. Each single thought I had, meant something about me (mostly a negative implication). I didn’t know better. I truly believed that I (= every aspect of me) was:
- not good enough
- not clever enough
- not attractive enough
- not beautiful enough
- not talented enough
At the same time I also craved to be better than others (in order to feel good). My mind was in a constant struggle.
As long as I believed my thoughts to be true (for example believing the thought that ‘I am not good enough’), I kept on comparing and trying to become this ‘someone better’ or ‘someone else’ and concluding that others have more than me.
Once you come to recognize that your thoughts are not revealing ‘truth’; a new chapter of your life can unfold.
2. Stuck in the illusion of being better or worse than others.
I needed to see the real uselessness of comparing myself. That in life, I will always be able to find someone who is better or worse than me (in looks, career, wealth). That is just how it is and there is nothing to ‘win’.
The following Shoomkloom questions made me ‘stop’ in my comparison tracks:
‘Do you see that a flower doesn’t compete with the flower next to it – each flower just blooms?’
‘Do you see that each comparison is an act of violence against yourself?’
It is easy to see that in nature a flower is just being the flower it is. Yet as humans we get lost in this wanting to be like someone else.
What would happen if you bring this simple nature wisdom to your human beingness?
3. Comparing equals wasting precious time.
I have wasted so much time and energy being busy with comparing myself to others, especially comparing with women regarding their looks, sexiness, humour, confidence and being at ease around men. Each time I would end up tense, emotional and lost in my harmful, negative thoughts. Each time I created a drama story in my own head. What a waste. Isn’t there so much more to life? Can you see that you how much time you waste comparing yourself? Is this comparing helping you in any way?
How to Stop Being Occupied with Comparison
After my self investigation process of Shoomkloom; the same comparison thoughts still pop up. BUT what is different is that I know I don’t need to give them attention. I know to appreciate who I am. I know what I value, which is life itself.
Step 1. See reality for real & stop feeding illusions.
I learned to stop fueling stress. I came to see the stress I create by:
- over-thinking and comparing
- believing each thought to be true
- being busy with being better or worse than
- re- telling myself endless stories of what happened and why
Whenever I compare myself with someone else; I handpick one quality or aspect and give that all the importance. However that person is not living up to my idealised image of them. My comparing is basically a lie. I need to appreciate who I am! And to see how I idealise the other and create a grander picture than reality. There is no perfect ‘barbie’ ever (thank god!)
Do you see that the preciousness of who you are, is impossible to compare?
Step 2. Accepting your own uniqueness: you are always the best version of yourself!
This is for sure true! I am always the best version of myself and nobody is better in being me! So if I really want to compare, I can compare myself to myself (for example: how I became better in loving myself). In each step of life, I am with myself. I can never escape from me. So I better make it a beautiful time with me (instead of the impossible wish to be someone else). I learned to be kind, caring and respectful with myself. Others can inspire me. Yet I will never have anything what others have. There is no need to be like someone else. Would you like to be kind, caring and respectful to the uniqueness you are?
Step 3. Gratitude: appreciating what is here.
I learned to be grateful for the gifts and goodness that are showered on me in each moment. Many things in life are not measurable; but are the most valuable (beyond what we think money, looks, power, prestige could give us). We often take these for granted. I am speaking here about the ordinary things in life: blue sky – the beauty of a smile – delicious laughter – sea air – a cool breeze – hugs – lying on the grass – colours – a puppy – the beauty of nature… All of these gifts are always here, always free. So we have a choice: to either dwell on what others have or to appreciate what we have and who we are.
‘Where is comparison when you sit watching the sunset by the ocean?’