Why You Need To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

If you want to live a happy and positive life, one habit you need to break is comparing yourself to others.
 
It’s such an easy habit to fall into. We are constantly fed updates on other people’s lives through our social interactions and social media. There’s not a day goes by when we aren’t consuming stories and news about other people.
 
With all this information it’s no wonder we start to compare our lives to others that we see. It’s only natural. After all, there are plenty of times when making comparisons is a good thing. Like when deciding which product to buy, which insurance policy to sign up to or which school to send our kids to.
 
Using comparisons to make decisions is part of how us humans work. So why is it so bad if we compare ourselves to others?

You only see an edited version of someone else

 
No matter how well you think you know someone, you never know their full story. What you see and what you know is the edited version that they choose to share. You only see what they want you to see.
 
Look at social media, what people share is generally their ‘highlight reel’. People show the good things happening in their life. Comparing yourself to what you see on social media is like comparing your ‘warts and all’ life to someone’s ‘best bits’.
 
For example, there may be someone who appears to the outside world to have a luxurious life. They have photos of their big house, flashy cars and luxury holidays all over their social media accounts. You might look at them and wonder what you are doing wrong. How come you can’t afford to be living like that?
But the reality could be that this person is actually crippled with debt. They could lie awake at night worrying about how they are going to pay for the lavish lifestyle they portray.
 
The same concept could be used with someone who has a successful, high-powered job. It might sound fancy and they could be paid very well for it. But they might have zero work/life balance. Instead spending every waking moment working and barely getting any time to spend with their family or to relax.
 
Suddenly those lives don’t seem quite as perfect or desirable do they?
 
Admittedly those examples are quite extreme, but you get the picture. We don’t know everything about people, so we can’t really compare ourselves to them. Trying to do so will only leave you feeling unhappy and unfulfilled with your own life.
 

Some people just get lucky

 
As corny as it sounds, some people were just in the right place at the right time. Their success could be put down to sheer luck or the perfect timing of an opportunity.
 
There are also plenty of people who do well in life due to privilege and wealth. It might not be fair, but some people do have a much easier route to success than others. You just have to think about how many children of celebrities have made a name for themselves. Would they have managed that without their family wealth and connections? Maybe. Maybe not. But they certainly had a helping hand. Therefore you can’t compare your life to theirs.
 
Privilege doesn’t just extend to celebrities and the uber rich either. It can be a lot more subtle than that. Where we live, our education and even the colour of our skin can effect what opportunities come our way. It’s not fair at all, but unfortunately it’s the reality of the world.
 
So next time you start to compare yourself to someone else, think about all these factors that could have influenced their path in life.
 

You are not focusing on yourself

 
Being too concerned about other people’s lives takes the focus off your own. Spending all your time unhappy, because you don’t have what someone else does, means you aren’t enjoying the great things in your life.
 
Yes, you might not be exactly where you want to be, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a good life. Take a step back and celebrate your own successes. Don’t allow someone’s else life to eclipse your own.
 
The truth is we all have different paths. It may take you longer to get where you want to go than someone else. But is that a bad thing? Sometimes the journey is part of the fun. Concentrate your energy and thoughts into your own life and that’s when the magic will happen.
 

Downward comparisons are bad too

 
Comparing yourself to others doesn’t just include looking at people you deem to be doing better than you. There’s bound to be times when you have looked at someone else’s life and felt better about your own. Someone you consider to be less successful than you.
 
These comparisons are no less negative. Is it really good to feel better about your own life at the expense of someone else’s? Putting someone else down to lift yourself up?
 
Judging yourself against less fortunate people could be a sign of low self-esteem and relies on other’s misfortune. Believing in yourself and what you are capable of is a much more positive use of your energy.
I hope this has made you realise that comparing yourself to someone else is a sure-fire way to make you unhappy and have a negative effect on your life. Check out Social Comparison Theory in Psychology (https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-social-comparison-process-2795872) if you want to read more about why we do this.
 
Ultimately we are all different. Another person’s success doesn’t take away from your own. We all take different routes in life and some people arrive at success quicker than others. But we are not defined by other people. We are defined by how we see ourselves. Do what makes you happy and don’t worry so much about other people’s stories. Keep writing your own!
 
Jaclyn