It is a common challenge. We look over at someone else and wonder why we don’t compare. They have a great car, or a great job, or great looks. They always get the lucky breaks or the attention of the important people. Why aren’t we like them? What’s wrong with me?
First and most importantly, nothing is wrong with you, you are perfectly normal. As a matter of fact, that person whose gifts you are admiring is looking at someone else and doing the same kinds of comparisons. Believe it or not, they may even be looking at you and asking themselves why they can’t be like you. It is instinctual for humans to want to get better. We look for clues in our environment that will help us benchmark. The challenge is the comparison instinct was built for survival and finding better food and shelter. Those of us that have sufficient food and shelter, move on to social comparisons. Unfortunately, we use the social comparison to be disappointed in ourselves rather than for creating inspiration about how we can make ourselves better.
So how do you keep social comparison from being a negative in your life?
- Be conscious of the Halo effect – Every time you compare yourself to someone else, you are looking at their best features and comparing them to your worst features. You don’t pay attention or compare to the people who are worse off than you. You are looking for something better. You also rarely see the whole picture. You are looking from the outside so you don’t know the whole story. One aspect of their life may be great, while another is not so much, just like everyone else. There are no perfect people with perfect lives. Everyone has challenges in their lives and positives. No one has it all even though it may appear that way on first glance.
- Be proud of your uniqueness – There is no one in the world like you. The things you have and don’t have are all part of who you are. Be proud of your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Don’t focus being someone else, focus on being the best you. Be happy for other people and their gifts and talents. You might even try to develop similar talents so that you can become better. But work on being your best self instead of wishing you could be like them.
- Be grateful for what you have – There are thousands of people in the world who are not as lucky as you are. They don’t have homes or jobs. They have health challenges. They were never able to complete their education. They have lost family members or they live in dangerous cities or countries where they don’t feel safe. When you see these people, help them if you can, but also take a moment to remember how lucky you are.
When you see someone else, you can waste your time comparing and wishing you were like them, or you can let them become an inspiration for you to work a little harder to be a better you. Comparing and wishing will sap your happiness while becoming a better you will build your confidence, happiness, and success.
What do you think about comparing yourself to others?