Comparing Yourself to Yourself Instead of Others
"Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent" - Betty Jamie Chung
Comparing yourself to others comes naturally to most of us. The issue with comparison is that it only has two outcomes, and neither one of them is very favorable. The first is devastation. This is where you see that you aren't "as good" and feel horrible about yourself. The second is gratification. This is where you see that you are "better than" and feel good about yourself and horrible about others. This one is tricky because if you do it enough, you can start to feel bad yourself because you start to feel like you have no friends that are good enough. In both scenarios, you lose. So how can you win? Use your natural tendency to compare your current self with your past self. This actually helps you to improve, and with that comes happiness. Here are 5 things that can help get you there...
1) Awareness (You probably guessed that one!). We often compare without realizing it. If you can notice when you are feeling bad about yourself or others, and pay attention to what you are thinking in your head at that moment, it can help you realize when this is happening and may give you some insight as to why it is happening.
2) Assess yourself. Are you happy? Overwhelemed? Do you feel good about yourself? This is a hard one to admit, but more often than not, the way we treat others is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. You may need to engage in more self care, or seek the support you need to feel more balanced.
3) Assess those around you. If we surround ourselves with people who life us up, chances are we feel good about ourselves and the need to compare dissappears. If we surround ourselves with people who push us down, chances are we feel bad about ourselves and the need to compare increases. Choose those you surround yourself with wisely.
4) Be realistic. Sometimes we have such high standards for ourselves that there is no room for mistakes. We're human. We all make mistakes. Try to lower the standard and make it more realistic. If you are always reaching for a 10, and you get an 8, you're going to berate yourself. If you aim for an 8, and you get an 8, you'll feel satisfied. If you aim for an 8, and you get a 10, you'll feel even more proud of yourself. The goal here is to meet yourself where you are. Sometimes we can get a 10, but there will be times where we aren't our best because of circumstances beyond our control (I.E. being sick, etc.). Give yourself a break.
5) Be gracious. Dr. Robert Emmons and his colleague Michael McCullough published a study in 2003 that examined the effects of writing gratitude diaries on almost 200 college undergraduates. They found at the end of the study that everyone who kept a daily gratitude diary reported feeling more positive and happy about life in general. If the research supports it, it could be worth a try.