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13 Things to Do Instead of Comparing Yourself to Others

Man in lemon shirt

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” ~Shannon L. Alder

You know it already.

You know you shouldn't compare yourself to others. Yet, that's often easier said than done.

Job title, income, grades, house, and Facebook likes—the number of categories in which we can compare ourselves to others are infinite. So is the number of people we can compare ourselves to.

Comparison is generally the fast track to unhappiness. It's a recipe for misery. All it does is keeping you focused on what you don't like about yourself and your life.

Ever since I made the decision to change careers, I’ve tried to focus on my new path. I’ve pictured myself as a horse with blinders, because I knew that looking too much on the sides would only keep me side-tracked.

It worked for a while. While I was out traveling for a year I kept my eyes on the prize, so to speak. But, when I came back home again, it wasn’t so easy anymore.

I caught myself glancing over to what other people had, and I didn’t. Where they were in life and I wasn’t. I had made the decision to rebuild my life from scratch, so of course, I was “behind” when comparing myself to my friends.

The more I focused on their path, and not my own, the more I lost control. Eventually, I reached a point where I questioned my decision, and that’s when I knew I had to change perspective quickly.

Here are thirteen simple ways to stop comparing yourself to others:

1. Water your own grass.

When we focus on other people, we lose time that we could otherwise invest in ourselves. We don’t grow green grass by focusing on our neighbor's garden, we do it nurturing our own. So, instead of wasting time comparing your path to someone else’s, spend it investing, creating, and caring for your own.

2. Accept where you are.

You can’t change something you don’t acknowledge. So, instead of resisting or fighting where you are, come to peace with it. Say yes to every part of your life, and from that place, make decisions that will move you in the right direction.

3. Love your past.

Your life might have been messy and bumpy. It might have been colored by mistakes, anxiety, and fear. I know mine has. But all those things were catalysts to help you become a better, wiser, and more courageous version of yourself. So, embrace your story and how much you’ve grown from it. Be proud of what you’ve done and for wanting to create a better life for yourself.

4. Do a social media detox.

We’re constantly bombarded with people who live #blessed lives on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. What we don’t consider is that we often compare our own worst moments with someone else’s highlight.

Social media can be a great source for inspiration. But, if it triggers inadequacy, self-doubt, and frustration, then choose to do a detox. Make sure you control social media and not the other way around.

5. Know that this isn’t the end of the movie.

If you’re not happy where you are today, remember that this is just a snapshot of your life. Where you are today doesn’t say anything about where you’ll be in one or three years from now. What matters isn’t where you are. What matters is your mindset, attitude, and where you’re going.

6. Be grateful for what you have.

Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Whenever you find yourself looking at what other people have, remind yourself of what you’re grateful for. For me, that means appreciating my family, my wonderful friends, and the fact that I’m living in a peaceful country (Sweden). So, shift focus from what you don’t have, to what you do have.

7. Decide not to let fear guide your choices.

The choices we make are either based on love or fear. For example, I moved to Paris for a job I was really excited about. That was based on love. Then I stayed a bit too long because I was afraid of what would happen if I quit. That was based on fear.

I’ve made all my fear-based decisions out of insecurity and a feeling of scarcity. They’ve never taken me in the direction I wanted.

Make sure love is the foundation for your choices. To stay on track, ask yourself this powerful question, “What would love do right now?”

8. Realize that you’re not perfect.

There will always be someone who’s richer, smarter, and more attractive than you. No one is perfect. Trying to be perfect is not the solution. So, instead of getting down on yourself for your flaws, quirks, and imperfections, accept them fully. Free yourself by embracing the fact that you’re perfectly imperfect.

9. Be your own ally.

That mean voice inside your head can tell you all kind of BS. Mine has told me that I’m boring, stupid, and ugly in comparison to others (and a bunch of other awful things).

Instead of joining in when the mean voice of comparison pops up, choose to be on your side. Relieve, soothe, and comfort yourself. Give yourself regular pep talks, and if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

10. Turn comparison into inspiration.

We tend to compare our behind-the-scenes with someone else’s big moment. We tend to focus on their success, not on the thousands of hours they’ve spent preparing and working for their achievement. Instead of letting other people’s triumphs be a time to get down on yourself, let it be a door opener to possibilities. Let it be an inspiration for what you can be, do and have in life.

11. Stop “shoulding” yourself.

Comparison often leads to us “shoulding” all over ourselves. We say things such as, “I should have this by now” or “I should have come further.” But statements like that just keep us focused on what we’re lacking.

Instead of using “should” when expressing commitments, use “want” and notice how your inner dialogue shifts.

12. Compare yourself with you.

If you need to compare yourself with someone, compare yourself with you. What can you do to improve your life quality? How can you be a better and more loving person? How can you be nicer to yourself than you were yesterday? You are the only person you can compare yourself with.

13. Tell a better story.

If the story you’re telling yourself isn’t one of empowerment, strength, and optimism, then tell a better story.

Instead of telling yourself you're not competent enough to do the work you want to do, tell yourself you're brave enough to try something new. Instead of blaming yourself for mistakes in the past, remind yourself that you did the best you could and that you’ve learned from it.

Take Back What Belongs to You

Comparing ourselves to others often leaves us feeling frustrated, anxious, and paralyzed about moving forward. It doesn’t help one single bit in creating the life we want. Instead, it just takes away valuable time and energy that could have been spent on building our future.

Whenever you focus on what other people have that you don’t, you give away your power. Every minute spent on comparing your path to someone else’s is a minute lost on creating your own.

So, take back your power from all the people, places, and situations where you’ve left it and bring it back home. Decide that your energy will be used for believing, not doubting, and for creating, not destroying.

Focus on you. Focus on watering your grass and building your path. Focus on being the best that you can be and share that with the rest of us.

You got this.

About Maria Stenvinkel

Maria Stenvinkel is on a mission to help people get a career they truly love. Download her free worksheet Get a Clue to Your Calling With These 10 Powerful Questions.

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  • paramvir

    insightful thoughts…. Thanks for taking the time to share. I personally feel it’s always about the mindshift. Situations and circumstances, in essence, are same for everybody. It’s the mindset that defines how you are going to sail through.
    In reality, no body is behind anybody. Every one is on course. This is the crux IMO. People often think that they are in some kind of race. Certainly there isn’t one. We all share same destiny after all.

  • Ed (E.J.) Godwin

    “If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.” That’s one of the best lines I’ve read anywhere. Hope you don’t mind if I borrow it!

  • Thanks for this post. What I always try to do is be a better person than I was yesterday, that way my mind does not have the time to start comparing to others.

  • Barbara

    #9. Be your own “ALLEY”? I believe you mean “ALLY”.

  • So true. Well put 🙂

  • I’m happy to hear that it resonated with you! Haha no worries 😉

  • That’s a very good way of looking at it. Thanks Duncan!

  • Well spotted Barbara 😉

  • Dean

    love it!

  • Suzanne Duff

    This article is WONDERFUL!!!! Thank you for sharing, I love it!!!!!!
    And one point you opened up for me is how you wrote fear vs love. I was always told it was faith vs fear, which only increased my confusion in making decisions. But just in your small example of your job, it immediately opened my eyes and a few scenarios in my own life were pinpointed. I could identify my motives clearly! This is something I’ve needed and longed for. Thank you for helping me with that!! Looking forward to reading more from you!

  • Thank you Dean!

  • Thank you so much Suzanne! Ohh, your words just put the biggest smile on my face – so happy to hear that they helped you 🙂

  • Kathygirl

    Thanks Maria for another wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading this because I saw a lot of myself in this post. I often find myself comparing my path to other people’s paths. Or thinking I should have this or that by this time in my life. But as your post points out, we all have our own path to follow. We should not be following anyone else’s path but our own. The theme of my own website/blog; which I just started recently, is about being true to yourself. In fact my first blog post is about why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others (in this case writers). It’s named writer’s thumbprint because like thumbprints; no two of us are alike! So thank you again for reminding me not to compare myself to others.

  • Thanks a lot Kathy! Yes, you’re so right. We all have our own path to follow. Best of luck to you with your new website/blog! xoxo Maria

  • Rachel Cournoyer

    Thank you for this post Maria! This is timely because there’s been a shift in my job, and instead of remaining down and comparing myself, I’m using it to be proactive. Also, I have my 25th high school reunion approaching-the classic hornets nest of comparison-and have been taking some personal stock. While I may not have what ‘they’ have at this point in my life, what I DO have is MY life. It’s a life that I have built and I’m happy and proud of it! It’s so easy to get of course with our lives and compare but, I’ve learned it can just lead to being stuck and fearful of the unique path we’re all on. Staying the course can be hard, but worth it. We’re worth it!

  • A free soul

    Definitely got to me, Thank you! xx

  • ProfessorRabbitShaver

    knowing your lack and dissatisfaction in your life are motivators. That’s the problem, the “haves” are always telling the “have-nots” to settle for what’s good enough.