From my “Ask me Anything!” newsletter e-mail I got a lot of questions from you about how to stop comparing yourself to others. So as promised, I’m going to take this opportunity to answer your questions here on the blog, so others can benefit from it as well.
Here are two examples:
I always keep on comparing myself to others who are doing well and feel so discouraged. What do you think I should do?
And a closely related question:
“I am a single woman in her thirties and I have a relative of whom I have always been jealous. She is self-confident and outgoing, quite attractive, a mother etc. I find I spend a ridiculous amount of time feeling inadequate at the thought of her and envying the things that she has. These thoughts can become obsessive and of course they get in the way of positive personal development. What is the nature of jealousy and how do you eliminate it?”
Ok, so first of all: You are not alone. Jealousy of others (Envy) is a very common personal issue and a lot of people are struggling with it. I experience it in my larger circles of friends a lot and it’s always a little difficult to handle, for both sides involved.
Why Do You Compare Yourself to Others?
I believe at the core of comparing lies the fear of inferiority. Feeling inferior or inadequate is really hard to tolerate, so we do anything to check if there is a slight chance of being inadequate. This need to validate yourself leads to comparing, in the hope to come to the conclusion that you are ok. Then you know that you are enough.
The need to be better may be healthy competition, but more likely it also stems from the inability to accept that someone else is better. If you are comparing this would mean the other person is superior to you, and therefore you are inferior.
But all this is inner confusion coming from not being centered.
The Real Cure
The real cure to jealousy and the way to stop comparing yourself to others is to become centered inside. [Tweet this!]
What does that mean? It means that you realize on a deep level that you can’t possibly be inferior.
As I already said in the post You Are Enough: “At the core, we are all equal. Nobody is more worthy than somebody else. This is the truth.”
You are a unique human individual and have the same essential rights as everybody else. Ultimately there is no such thing as inferiority or superiority. Everyone who tries to tell you otherwise is just ridiculous and has just disqualified him-/herself.
You just need to recognize this truth inside of yourself and trust yourself on it. Your true nature is not defined nor touched by these little aspects over which you used to compare yourself with others.
Ways to Break Free from Comparing Yourself
If you are really lost in the habit of comparing yourself all the time, the first thing you want to do is to break your state. Change both your physical (maybe take a walk or run) and mental state. Force yourself to focus your mind on something else.
1. What is Right for You?
Center yourself around what is right for you. What fulfills you and makes you happy? What are your personal goals? How can you grow? Where do you excel and shine as a human being?
Then you create your own compass to guide you. You don’t need any external approval anymore, because you can give this to yourself by fulfilling your own high standards.
If you start living on your own terms like this, you develop this inner strength and comparing yourself won’t feel even necessary any more.
2. Become Content with Who You Are
Be proud of yourself.
Look at the sides of yourself which you are already proud of. What did you do right? Where did you get complimented on?
From there you can easily find ways to focus on what is great about you and then build on top of it.
3. Become Content with What You Have
Truly wealthy is not who has all the things but who is content with what she/he has. The emotion of gratitude makes room for new things to come into your life. On the other hand the emotion of jealousy is pushing things away from you.
That doesn’t mean that you will suppress your desire to get ahead. But you want to appreciate what you already have. Besides that, having a lot of things is not that desirable in the first place. Simplify your life to become more content.
4. Bring up the Courage to Develop Yourself
Sometimes I see that people almost neglect parts of their live because they think that they are not good at it. This may be true to your looks, your intellect, your ambitions and general abilities.
You have to bring up the courage to put your best foot forward and to develop your own, individual potential. If you never try and exercise a specific part of yourself, this only would confirm your limiting beliefs about it, instead of developing this part at your own pace.
Almost everything can change and sometimes it’s just the act of allowing yourself to change. The moment you start, you’ll probably discover that in fact the reality looks much better than you thought it to be.
Your Options to Deal with Your Jealousy
When you feel jealousy and envy, you still have some options to deal more constructively with this emotion. The worst thing you could do would be to feel self-pity and to start to hate the person of whom you are jealous. You have better options…
1. Get Inspired
Use jealousy for yourself to grow. Don’t channel it against the other person and then feel bad about yourself.
Use any negative emotional energy as an inspiration and transform it into positive drive for change. [Tweet this!]
The one thing that you should not do is to mitigate and then use this “acceptance of who you are” as an excuse not to work on yourself. This is a danger and there is a fine line here.
If you are not satisfied with an area of your life, change it. [Tweet this!]
Instead of saying this is who I am and then feeling bad about it, think about where you want to be and start to grow into this direction. Jealousy only happens if you buy into the idea that you can’t change anything. So get inspired and go.
2. Let Go of the Arising Jealousy
Of course you will encounter people who are better than you are. This is life.
It only gets difficult when you channel this experience into this emotion called jealousy, because you instantly fear feeling inferior. But you don’t have to. You have a choice.
You can also just enjoy that someone else is doing great too. A mature human being is able to acknowledge the successes of others and even enjoy them. If you follow your own goals and successes and do the best you can to – for yourself – then this is giving you the basis for inner contentment. Then you can shine and let others shine too.
So in summary, you have several good options to deal with jealousy if it arises in you. You can stop comparing yourself to others by practicing the 4 points from above. And you can especially end this validation seeking by understanding that at your core you are already perfect as you are. This encourages you to just life your own life, and not look at what others are doing.