Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC
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One major source of unhappiness and low self esteem is the common habit that so many of us have, comparing ourselves to others. Constant comparison is not healthy and comparing yourself to others can harm your self esteem.
As I have suffered from this, and low self esteem that often goes with it, I decided to write this page with what I’ve learned from the experience and from the research. So if you would like to know how to stop comparing yourself to others, you need to read on.
Learning how to stop comparing yourself involves improvement of your self esteem and confidence and understanding of your own unique value. Measuring yourself against others can make you over-anxious and can lead to discouragement.
I remember walking around in my teens and twenties constantly focused on how I compared to others. This made me fear failure and rejection, and my self esteem tumbled. I have with time and effort managed to overcome this to the point where I truly value myself as an individual with clear values. My level of self confidence now is so much higher and I do not fear challenges the way I used to. You can follow this path too, let me show you how.
One major problem in our society is the focus on competitiveness which can often lead to the tendency to compare yourself with others. Many of us seem to do this automatically without giving it a thought. Let’s talk about what effect this has on your self esteem.
Why comparing yourself to others is a bad idea
So many people get into the habit of comparing themselves with others. Whether it is what you have or what you don’t have, there is no end to comparing when you start. It’s a trap because you can never be better than everybody else in everything. You can always find someone who is more beautiful, someone who is slimmer, someone who dresses more fashionably or someone who talks more confidently. You are better at some things and worse in others, but that should not affect you negatively, it’s just how it is.
We use all sorts of misguided standards to compare ourselves with others, who we imagine are much more successful than us or in our personal lives. Often you may assume that someone else is happy with their lot but you could be completely wrong. It’s even possible for you to feel someone else is better than you, while they, in reality, may envy you or your qualities!
When you’re always comparing yourself to other people what you’re real saying is “I want to be more like them” when what you should be doing is valuing more who and what you are. This can cause you to miss one of the best opportunities to find happiness in life, which is living an authentic and honest life. If you constantly compare yourself to others you are using standards which are not your own and applying them to yourself. Big mistake! To live an authentic life true to who you are requires you to develop and apply your own values and to live according to these.
Comparing yourself to others can definitely damage your level of self esteem. It can cause self doubt and even jealousy as you may believe others have a better personality, better looks or are more successful than you. Low self esteem can cause negative thoughts which revolve around how you need to be fixed in certain ways. This can also impact negatively your mental health.
In a recent article I wrote we discussed self acceptance. One of the most important things that you need to do if you want to improve your level of self-esteem is increase your self acceptance. If you can accept yourself more for what you really are then you can live in a way that is much more honest and as a result you’ll soon feel better inside. Your level of self-esteem will increase as you stop trying to copy others
These days one of the biggest problems with comparisons we make of ourselves and others can be Social Media. According to Lee (2020), there is evidence that shows Social Media use involves social comparison and can cause negative feelings and lower self esteem. Lee also claims there is much evidence that connects use of Instagram and Facebook, for example, with negative impacts on both self esteem and mental well-being.
There are a number of studies that looked at how people compare themselves and the effect is has on their health (see this article in the NewsRx Health and Science journal).
When you compare yourself to others you are actually allowing others to control your thinking and your actions.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
Here are just a few ways that you can stop comparing yourself to others:
Try to focus more on what is important to you rather then ask yourself what others think.
Focus on what you are doing and don’t allow yourself to use others’ standards or values to judge how well you are doing compared to others. It is so important to understand that others success and accomplishments should not be a stick for you to se to measure your own. Your potential and your limits are totally unique!
Continuing from the above, accept you are different from everybody else, and take that as a huge positive. Self acceptance of our strengths should boost your self esteem and confidence, but what do you you about your weaknesses? Yes, accept them but be realistic. There should be no negative here, use it as a method to improve. There is a world of difference in aspiring to be better or to be as successful as someone else is, but you should never let your weaknesses be negative. Determine which weaknesses you can strengthen and which you can just accept and move on.
Watch this inspiring video and stay with it! After about 3 minutes it gets really meaningful. I’m sure you’ll get a huge benefit from putting this into action in your life.
Get to know yourself better and increase self care and self respect for who you are and what you are capable of becoming. This is the path to higher confidence and a life worth living. As you get to know better who you really are, you will appreciate the gifts you have which are unique to you. You’ll also realise that there is a lot in you that others can like and admire. This leads to an understanding that you deserve your own respect.
Tell yourself that you can do just as well as anybody else – it doesn’t matter how you look, what you think or what you have done before – what matters is the end result and the fact that you believe in yourself.
Watch this free special 3 part video series about self esteem – sign up to get instant access to the videos. Filled with some great ideas and advice, you’ll benefit enormously by watching these. You will enjoy self hypnosis, learn easily and quickly where you want and when you want, you won’t have to spend a long time reading and you will find this program effortless as you use the power of your mind, so what are you waiting for?
Try this amazing self hypnosis download – Stop comparing yourself now! Another highly successful and popular download from Uncommon Knowledge, the self hypnosis experts who I have worked closely with over the last 20 years! Try it today for yourself, you have nothing to lose.
- Comparing yourself to others can have health impacts. (2012, February 26). NewsRx Health & Science, 54. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A283404914/AONE?u=anglia_itw&sid=AONE&xid=10d7feb8
- Friedman, R. (2015). Psychological barriers to trial: don’t let your fear of losing paralyze you–be courageous and stop comparing yourself to others. Trial, 51(6), 23. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A418845825/AONE?u=anglia_itw&sid=AONE&xid=cfd8b533
- Lee J. K. (2020). The effects of social comparison orientation on psychological well-being in social networking sites: Serial mediation of perceived social support and self-esteem. Current psychology (New Brunswick, N.J.), 1–13. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-01114-3
Website Author and Your Guide
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.