Why You Need to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others RIGHT NOW!

Feb 19, 2024

The Comparison Problem

Since the dawn of time, when cave-dwelling clans huddled together for warmth and safety amid a cruel landscape that presented danger at every turn, a peculiar habit still must have emerged among our ancestors: social comparison

It’s perfectly possible that as cavemen adorned themselves with primitive fashions of the day, one might have glanced at the other’s self-made and superior loincloth, perfectly chiseled hand axe or jutting jawline and felt a twinge of Cro-Magnon competition.

Fast forward to today, and the call to constantly compare ourselves to others is still going strong.

It’s social comparison on steroids.

And that means it’s a BIG problem.

caveman using iPhone in a cave

The Insatiable Urge to Compare Yourself To Others

No longer content with comparing who snagged the best mammoth for dinner, we now find ourselves engulfed in a 24-hour tsunami of status updates, filtered images, and perfectly curated lives.

Social media in particular is a breeding ground for comparison.

It’s the perfect environment for boosting insecurities, encouraging low self-esteem and crushing self-confidence.

And with the recent emergence of AI, things are getting weirder and WAY out of control.

(A quick Google search for ‘when AI filters fail’, or something similar, will show you what I mean.)

Don’t Believe the Hype

It’s essential to realize that when it comes to the internet, how things may look is necessarily how they really are.

It’s an illusion.

Most people — and definitely most ‘influencers’ — only post super-enhanced highlights of very specific aspects of their life. They strategically miss out all the bad bits.

Selfies are perhaps the biggest viral villain. 

A little while ago, that the gadget gurus over at Samsung decided to do some research into how many selfies the average American was likely to take in their lifetime.

The results are pretty shocking.

Let’s pause for a moment and play a little guess the number game.

So what do you think? How many selfies will the average American probably take in their lifetime?

100? 1000? 10,000?

The flabbergasting figure they arrived at — their most serious estimation — was that the average American would take 25,000 (yes, I know. . .) selfies in their lifetime. 

As to how many of those they would then present in public? No idea. But you can bet  it isn’t many.

Of course, only the most perfectly edited and enhanced shots make the grade. . .

 Selfie Stress & Self-Esteem 

The endless scrolling through a never-ending sea of selfies is what continually feeds so much of the delusion. And it creates a great deal of harm.

Let’s be clear: The mental health connection between viewing selfies and then comparing yourself to them is obvious. The data is most definitely in.

One study found that regularly viewing selfies led to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction — and there’s PLENTY more where that came from.

I can also speak anecdotally from first-hand experience.

Having been a teacher since 2001 and having taught thousands of students of all ages in the UK and internationally, I’ve seen the massive increase in self-esteem-related mental health issues, especially among teens. 

It’s absolutely unmistakable.

Unsurprisingly, it’s coincided with the spread of social media.

And it’s quickly getting worse. 

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others . . .

. . . and Become a Better You

Girl looking sad in a room full of mirrors

Oprah once said, “You become what you believe.” And she’s right.

If you believe that you are pretty worthless and have no chance of being happy unless you have A. B and C, that is what you will project into the world.

And that is how most people will end up seeing you. . .

So, instead of comparing yourself to other people and trying to meet unrealistic or unwise expectations, it’s much wiser to focus on becoming the best version of yourself.

Instead of using comparison as a means to devalue yourself, use it as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth.

How Can You Do It?

Well, there’s no one magic wand that solves all the issues, but there are several things we can do to gain a better perspective and begin to wean ourselves of what is, by all accounts, an addiction. 

Here are some to consider for starters:

3 Ways To Stop Comparing & Cultivate a Healthier & Happier Mind

Happy smiling woman giving herself a hug

1. Take a Break from Social Media or At Least have a Strategy

To break free from your social media addiction, consider taking a hiatus from your favorite platforms.  The best way is to disable your major apps

If going cold turkey is too challenging, set a timer for your social media use. If you need to, use a digital tool to help you

If you want to go in at the deep end, consider doing what I did for the five years I lived back in the UK before moving back to Thailand: Buy yourself a Light Phone.

No social media. No clickbait news. No email. No internet browser.

Just old-school calls and texts. 

2. Find a Hobby You’re Passionate About

Distract yourself by doing something you love that DOESN’T involve a screen.

Wat inspires you? What are you passion about? What hobbies did you used to do? (And DON’T say surfing the net or scrolling around social media!)

Was it art? sport? martial Arts? writing? music?

If nothing seems to inspire you and you can’t feel passionate about anything that doesn’t involve starting at an internet-ready screen, then try something new.

Take a chance and get out of your comfort zone.

3. Practice ‘Mutida’

“Mutida” is a word from Buddhism. It means something like sympathetic joy (which sounds weird and clumsy in English!).

It’s a state of mind where, instead of feeling jealousy, you feel genuinely glad for others when good things happen to them or when they achieve something noteworthy.

Essentially, it’s about being joyful when others do well, without feeling envious or experiencing a sense of competition.

It’s sometimes a hard one to nurture, but it’s amazingly powerful and uplifting for you when you can manage it.

A classic example of mutida is in Thailand where someone might raise their hands in wai and say ‘sathu” (a word you use when you agree with something, appreciate something or show that you share the joy in something) if they know you have done something especially good; for example, giving alms to monks in the morning.

Practicing mutida doesn’t mean you have to feel a sense of ‘sympathetic joy’ in everything that everyone is achieving, so don’t run around ‘sathuing’ people at every opportunity — they obviously won’t understand you anyway and you’ll probably look like a nutcase, which might ruin the overall joyful vibe. . .

Once you become more mindful of cultivating a ‘mutida mind’, you’ll see that there are many opportunities to do so. For example:

  • Celebrate a friend’s success with genuine joy, practicing mutida by rejoicing in their accomplishments — without any envy.
  • Witness a colleague’s promotion, cultivate mutida by acknowledging their achievements and sharing wholeheartedly in their happiness.
  • Support a family member’s achievements without comparison, embodying mutida by finding joy in their accomplishments.

I’m sure you’ll find many more, if you’re mindful enough. 

Strategy Versus Intention

Breaking free from the social comparison trap requires a conscious effort.

As I said at the very start, it’s a very natural, primeval mental action.

So, to overcome it and experience a healthier and happier mind, there needs to not only be a strong intention to stop the constant comparing, but also a strategy.

Because strategy beats intention — every time.

The bottom line:

If you’re really serious about feeling happier, you must try your very best to stop comparing yourself to others.

Your life is your life. Your past is your past. Your present is your present. And your future. . . hasn’t happen yet. 

Really. 

This might surprise you (it did me), but it was only very recently that I understood — and I mean really understood — for the very first time, even after being interested in spiritual stuff for ages and taking a pretty deep dive into Buddhism, that the future hasn’t happened yet

The truth is: You can create you own future and manifest whatever you like in it. So, don’t let THEIR expectations dictate YOUR self-worth, or THEIR goals dictate YOURS.

Instead, focus on cultivating your own values and aspirations, then create a strategy, goals and set of behaviors that will lead you to your OWN definitions of happiness and success.

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