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Why You Compare Yourself to Others (And How to Stop)

No matter what you do, there's going to be a random Asian dude who does it better. And before you try and cancel me on Twitter, hear me out.

Picture this scenario with me. You and your friend Andrea decide to go to the gym together - which is great. You're both supporting each other and everything is going great. Few months forward, you see that even though your diet and workouts are on point, your friend still lost more weight and "looks better than you".

She also posts a picture on Instagram and gets more likes than you. On top of that, she also gets a job that pays better than yours.

Let's not bullshit each other, the feeling wouldn't be particularly awesome. Why is that? In this blog post we're going to discuss why that happens and what are the actual tips or steps you and I both can use, that'll snap us right out of our negative thinking pattern (I ain't perfect, this is a guide for me as well).


"Why Do I Compare Myself With Others?"

I too have been guilty of comparing myself to others in things I own, the money I have, college grades I got, books I've read, likes I got on IG posts and many more.

It's fucked, ain't it... but you and I both know that I'm not the only one who does that, right?

So that's why I ask of you to drop your "guard" aka ego and read this from a 3rd perspective.

And that will be more than enough to break that vicious negative spiral of Looself-judging and comparing yourself with others. other words means, that our fundamental problem lies in the need to evaluate ourselves, and sadly, the only way to do that is when we reference it to something else.

Of course, my dumb self couldn't figure that on its own, but I was curious about it, so I dug deeper and found out about a theory, which is apparently one of the biggest contributors to the field of social psychology.

Psychologist Leon Festinger came up with the so-called social comparison theory.

To put it shortly and spare you all the trouble, the guy was basically talking about how we compare ourselves to those in our peer group or with whom we are similar, by evaluating our and theirs attitudes, abilities, and traits, so we get the picture of where we stand.

And we do that because we're trying to figure out how good we are and... well to make ourselves feel better because most of the time we already know who we are - or at least think we know who we are. By comparing ourselves with others with intention of self-enhancement, we passively become miserable. Why?

Festinger also introduced this concept to us:

Upward comparison means that we're comparing ourselves with someone who we benchmark as " he or she is better than me" and vice versa for downward comparison.

As you probably figured out on your own, there are different outputs we get, when we compare ourselves with a positive or negative mindset.

Let's take, for example, Andrea from the beginning of the post. We understand that she had better progress than us and even though we may be happy for her, we still feel envy and dissatisfaction with our own being.

Now, look at the table above where we stand. Usually, our approach is with a negative mindset when looking at a peer who, compared to us, is superior (upward comparison).

There are 2 solutions to this problem. Either you:

  • Change your whole mindset, be satisfied with who you are, and be grateful for how far you've come


  • You start with something called "self-comparison" until you eventually come to a point where you're happy with who you are and grateful for how far you've come (walk before you can run)

Now we know why you and I compare(-d) ourselves with our peers. In the next chapter, we're going to talk about actual steps which we can take when dealing with this problem.


"How do I Stop Comparing Myself with Others?"

The first step is to identify specific triggers. Think for a minute. When and where do you find yourself comparing with others the most? Is it when looking at a specific IG profile and posts? Talking to a friend about a salary raise? Going out and comparing different dress styles? The point is to recognise where your brain wanders into that thinking pattern.

The second step is to detach from a situation. Take a deep breath and look at the same situation again. Ask yourself, "How/Why do I feel this way?" Is it because you're insecure about yourself. Do you have an ego? Learn about yourself - specifically about this situation.

The third step is to practise gratefulness. Just say "I am thankful for who I am, how far I've come and how far I will come eventually". Yeah, it sounds cringe but stop fucking around and just do this next time, believe me (also, say this to yourself, not out loud like a maniac)

The fourth step is to embrace your competitor. By doing the first three steps, you'll automatically start embracing the healthy competition between your peers and accept "being 2nd" as a part of the process. Because as you'll soon find out, the 5th step allows you to keep a calm frame of mind when dealing with competitors.

The fifth point is to compare yourself... to yourself only. Be your best friend when it comes to looking at a mirror. Don't compare yourself to who you were yesterday. One bad day don't mean shit.

Compare yourself to who you were a week, month or even a year before. This will allow you to be composed and not feel overwhelmed when looking at someone who's been dealt with better cards in Life, as you will know deep inside yourself that you're improving you and that's what matters - while seeing others as some kind of idols, or mentors to whom you can look up to and find inspiration.

And that will be more than enough to break that vicious negative spiral of self-judging and comparing yourself with others.

Looking back at the Festingers' table, we can eventually switch from envy and dissatisfaction to hope and inspiration, by following these 5 steps, mentioned above.


Hopefully, you learned something from this blog and found the tips useful. I am posting a blog every 2 weeks - if you have any requests about what I should write next, don't hesitate to contact me on my socials :)

IG: @edisbabahmetovic

LinkedIn: Edis Babahmetovic

Facebook: Edis Babahmetovic

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