What If: I Stopped Comparing Myself to Others?

April 27, 2010

I know, I know, this is a preemptive “what if” wednesday installation, but this post is of the utmost importance and it simply could not wait. This is not an orthodox what if anyway, as it doesn’t address any of my five initial questions, but it seems important all the same. So here we go:

What if I stopped comparing myself to others? What would happen? Would I become more: successful/thin/happy/well liked/insert secret desire here?

I have a history of comparing myself to others, my fear and social anxiety rooted deeply in my inability to really love and believe in myself. I always thought that others had more or were more successful than me because they were luckier/smarter/prettier/skinnier/more industrious than I was. I felt like I lived in the shadows of those around me, but the truth was – I put myself in the corner with my constant worrying and lack of self worth.

This old behavior came to my attention again recently, because I found myself deep in a hole of blogging self doubt. It can be extremely difficult not to compare yourself to others within the blogging world: who has the most friends on twitter, who has the highest page views, who gets the most RTs when they submit a link, and ultimately, who gets the most comments. I found myself consumed with self doubt about commenting, even though, as the pageviews on this blog increase, naturally so do the comments. See, my insecurities were showing, and my natural brain progression was this: no one is commenting on my blog, because they read my posts and dismiss them immediately. They aren’t any good. No one really likes them. No matter how hard I try, I’m not helping anyone.

Absurd, right?

You know those old commercials, “this is your brain – this is your brain on drugs?,” this is MY brain on drugs. This is my brain when it retreats back into its nice, comfy old patterns of self doubt, fear, and unending I’m no good, no one loves me, I need to dramatically alter who I am to become better. This is the EXACT opposite of the me that I work so hard to nourish and become. Instead, this is the me from sixth grade who sits in a corner by herself and watches the popular girls get asked out to dances or invited to sleep-overs. Or the me who believes everything is happening around her, but just a little out of reach.

But I am not that girl anymore.

It doesn’t really matter what issues spurn these emotions from you, whether you are secretly coveting a friend’s new wardrobe, fancy job, financial success, perfect body or you are wishing for some one else’s pageviews or the comments of on their posts, the emotion is the same: I am not good enough. I am unloveable.

This type of thinking is dangerous and wreaks havoc on even the most well put together and sound-thinking mind. It is this type of thinking that keeps you on the outside looking in, instead of swallowing your ego/fear/pride and diving headfirst into the life of your dreams. And the reality is: YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN THAT.

Want to stop comparing yourself to others? It can be difficult, but you should try some of these tips:

  1. Repeat after me: I am an amazing, unique, beautiful, and intelligent person. I have a special perspective to bring to the table, because I am a result of my lived experiences, and thus, no other person on earth can offer exactly what I can. I am lovable, and am as successful as I allow myself to be. I am worth listening to. And then repeat it again and again until the message really sinks in.
  2. Accept your body as it is. Develop a natural and loving relationship with it, no matter where on the weight or fitness spectrum you fall. Cultivate this relationship at all costs, including: eating with intent, making choices based upon what is good for you – mind, body, soul – and not what your emotions tell you that you want, MOVING your body regularly and out of love not fear of gaining weight.
  3. Open dialogue with others that you find successful. Be friendly, open minded, and complementary. Add something useful to the conversation, jump in head first – when you approach a situation from a happy, self-loving, and genuinely interested place, people are unlikely to treat you unkindly. Be supportive of, not jealous, of your friends’ success, and I guarantee that success will come your way.
  4. Think abundantly. Manifest yourself up some goodness by thinking positively and accepting challenges as opportunities for growth. You never know where a door will open, stay alert and look out for them.
  5. Treat your body and mind with respect and kindness. Do you find yourself too exhausted to go out to that party, but forcing yourself to go because you’re afraid of missing out? Take a hot shower, relax in your pajamas, do something nice for yourself – there is always another party to go to. You will reap more rewards for being honest with yourself, than from forcing yourself into a situation where you will feel unhappy or forced.

And most of all – SMILE – you truly are amazing! And you need to start treating yourself as such! There is no need to compare yourself to others when you feel good about where you are.

How do you keep from comparing yourself to others? Do you have any tips/stories to share?