Comparing yourself to others is one of the single most damaging ways you can strengthen your inner critic, especially if, like me, you don’t thrive on competition. When you unleash the green eyed monster and look enviously at other people’s belongings, holidays, business or career success, perfect hair or complexion, or happy relationship and healthy life, you are wasting valuable energy which could be directed towards improving your own business/career/life.
By comparing yourself to others you are throwing up a whole series of obstacles to getting yourself on track. So, stop.
Other people are there to learn from
Our entire life is shaped by what we learn from other people. We learn to smile by imitating our parents, we learn to speak from listening to all the voices around us. Later on we learn to swear by listening to our elder siblings or friends, and we learn how to behave in restaurants, at school, at the dinner table, and later on, at work, from watching people around us. Pretty much everything we know how to do is thanks to the conscious or unconscious efforts of the people in our lives, real or virtual. So instead of endlessly comparing yourself to the colleague who seems to just get everything right, or the rival business owner who is killing it while you feel you are trailing behind, think: What can I learn from her? From demotivating rival to inspirational role model in one small miindset shift. Feels much better, right?
Remember you can (indeed, need to) do things your way
Whereas learning from others is useful and can be awesome, avoid copying others. By all means ask yourself “What would x do?” but if doing that doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t. Learning from others isn’t the same as trying to become them. You are awesome in your own unique way, you don’t need to become anyone else. In the coaching world there are so many business coaches out there selling a model which worked for them (or possibly even didn’t) and expect their clients to follow the same pattern. Which means that the coaching world is very noisy and full of the same stuff. Dull. I pity anyone from the “outside” trying to find the right coach for them. By all means look at what the competition (at work, in business, among friends) is doing, learn from and be motivated and inspired by them, but do it your own way. Don’t try and be someone you don’t really want to be – you won’t come across as natural or even trustworthy. People like to know who they are dealing with, and how will your inner awesome shine through if you are trying to be someone else?
Compare yourself to yourself is much more effective than comparing yourself to others
Look at how far you have come. Look at the places you have been, the people you have met and the things you have learned. Look at how much you have changed in the last decade, the last year, even the last month or week. Think of something you do quite easily and naturally that at one point you weren’t able or didn’t feel you were able to do. Think of your successes. Think of what you have learned from what you could perceive to be failures or disappointments. Ask yourself what is the point in comparing yourself to others when you can set your own standards and milestones. Life isn’t just about where you end up; it is about how you get there, so enjoy the process and be proud of every step you take.
What you see is rarely the whole story
My final point, something which is easy to forget when you are tying yourself in knots comparing yourself to others: When looking at what someone else is achieving you aren’t getting the whole picture. We all, both consciously and unconsciously, put up some kind of front. I am not saying every super organised and tidy person has a secret messy closet, but something in their life or mind will be messy – we don’t all get everything right. Now, don’t go trying to pick fault in other people’s lives, that would not be constructive, but just always always remember you are only ever getting a snapshot of their lives. And the very people you might be comparing yourself to might well have similar insecurities and be comparing themselves to you.
So in short, how to stop comparing yourself to others? Be yourself, learn from other people but also learn from yourself, remembering that no-one ever sees the whole picture. Remember that comparing yourself to others is giving the inner critic a short cut to your mind and a big stick to beat you with.