It’s human nature to weigh things up against one another. It’s how we find the best stuff.
Think about when you choose a house to buy or rent. House Number 1 has a big garage and lots of natural light but House Number 2 has a spare bedroom and is close to public transport. You look at your needs and choose the thing that best suits these needs. It’s a good thing. It stops you from making mistakes.
We do the same thing with people. When we hire them, fire them, be-friend them, date them, marry them, divorce them. We are constantly comparing people to each other. This is also a good thing because it might prevent you from marrying a pot-smoking, play station addict who doesn’t know how to put plates in the dishwasher. Yay for comparisons!
Unfortunately, because we’re so used to doing this all day every day, it becomes a reflex to start comparing ourselves to other people. Sometimes of course, this is necessary. For example if you go for a job and one of the other candidates has 5 years more experience than you, it might be sensible to compare yourself to that person and not be totally devastated if they get the job over you. Where self preservation is concerned, a little healthy comparison is quite helpful.
Outside of these confines though, comparing yourself to other people becomes unhealthy very quickly.
Personally, I don’t tend to do this very often because it’s a massive waste of time and wasting time is at the top my I Fucking Hate This list. However, if I’m having a low self esteem day, these are the things that will get me.
1. Seeing a skinny girl eating junk food
It’s completely irrational but I work out 5 days a week and it feels like I spend the remainder of my time avoiding croissants and I’m not even close to being skinny. I don’t know the skinny girl, I don’t know what she ate for the rest of the week or if she goes to the gym. In my irrational comparative state it doesn’t matter. She’s thin and eating junk food and I want to be her.
2. Seeing someone super dodgy kicking goals
I don’t get jealous of the success of people who work hard. Ever. I think it’s a really excellent example of hard work always being the answer, which is pretty much the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. If someone I know is dodgy gets a book deal, partners with someone awesome or gets rewarded for something they didn’t do, I get comparisony. I’ll start thinking about how hard I’ve worked and how much more I deserve the thing they got. Sometimes I even start thinking that I need to be dodgy to get ahead, which is really dangerous thinking. It’s not helpful, but it happens.
3. Any kind of nepotism
When the kids of rich and famous people, become rich and famous, it makes me think my life would have been so much easier if Tom Hanks was my dad.
How I Deal With Comparisonitis
1. I look to the big players.
Steve Jobs didn’t say ‘Oh no! Microsoft already make computers, I guess I can’t do that now!’
There really is enough room for everyone and just because someone is already doing the thing you want to do, doesn’t mean you can’t do it too.
2. I remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy.
Comparing myself to other people, NEVER makes me feel better. Even if I win. Even if I google a girl who was mean to me in high school and I see she hasn’t done that much with her life. It makes me feel shit for trying to find joy in that. Comparisons are always bad, even if you come out on top.
3. I unfollow people who trigger negative thought patterns in me.
Often they’ve done nothing wrong except paint a picture of entrepreneurial life that stirs me up. I had to unfollow someone recently who was talking about how they earn multiple 6 figures a year and they work 2 hours a day. I unfollowed him for two reasons. 1. If he’s lying, that’s disgusting because he’s swindling people out of their money 2. If he’s NOT lying, I don’t need to see him sitting by a pool surrounded by wads of cash when I’m working my 15th hour for the day. It’s not good for my mental health and I go into a spiral of trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I don’t have time for that. Unfollow. I don’t begrudge him his success, but I don’t need it shoved in my face via his hourly updates.
4. I see other people’s success as a marker for it being possible.
They’ve done the leg work to prove it’s doable, they’re the one that took the risk – it’s a confidence booster. I’ve recently become obsessed with Lindsey Stirling who’s the highest earning female YouTuber and she’s a violinist – I love her because she makes millions of dollars a year doing something that most people can’t earn minimum wage doing. What an amazing example of doing something that sounds like it can’t be done.
5. I focus on my own race.
I’ll often turn off social media from 5pm in the afternoon and not touch it until the next day. Try hard to remove yourself from the audience of other people’s highlight reel. No one can force you to look at their perfect body/mansion/amazing holiday. You choose what you look at and if you’re struggling to focus on your own race, pretend you’re a horse with blinkers on and stop looking sideways.