How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

When I met with a mentee recently, she looked sad and a bit depressed. When I asked her if anything was wrong, her shoulders sagged lower, and she said was feeling like a failure in her career and her life.

I was surprised by her comment because the last time we had spoken (a few months prior), she had been excited to share with me that she had received a pay raise, been given a leadership role on a new project in her department and had even been recognized and praised by her boss for her outstanding work.

What had changed? Turns out, she had been reading a lot of social media posts by her friends. One had just been promoted to a management role and was now leading a team of people for the first time. Another had posted pictures of her first international business trip to Europe. One friend had just purchased her first house. Another had bought an expensive, new sports car. Two others had announced their engagements and one friend had gotten married and posted the pictures.

“I feel like such a loser,” she said, slouching lower in the chair. “Everyone else is doing amazing things with their lives. I want to be happy for them, really, I do. But it just makes me crazy when I realize how far behind I am.”

When I asked her what she meant about being so “far behind” her friends, here’s what she said: “I’m 28 years old and I still don’t have a management job. I haven’t traveled anywhere on business. I don’t earn enough to buy a house or condo, or even a different car. And I don’t even have time for a boyfriend right now, but it seems like all my friends are either getting engaged or married. This really sucks.”

Then she shook her head and rolled her eyes. “And if that isn’t bad enough, my high school reunion is this summer. Everyone’s going to be comparing their accomplishments and bragging about their jobs. Then I’ll really feel like a loser.”

My heart went out to her, because I remembered similar situations early on in my career, when I had done the same thing – compared myself to others. The difference was that, back then, we didn’t have social media. So I wasn’t bombarded with the accomplishments of my friends, like many people are who spend time on their social media accounts on a daily basis.

With age comes perspective (and hopefully wisdom), so I shared with my mentee some of the things I’ve learned, as I’ve grown older.

Comparing yourself to others’ accomplishments is a losing battle. There is an endless supply of people to whom you could compare yourself and your accomplishments, but, inevitably, you’ll always end up on the losing side of the comparison. That’s because there will always be someone who has done something that you wished you could also accomplish.

And, it will only take you down a never-ending spiral. Once you start comparing yourself to others, where do you draw the line? Do you compare only career-related achievements, such as job titles, compensation, number of direct reports, perks and benefits, business travel locations, or whether they have an office with a door or work in a cubicle? Do you compare personal accomplishments, such as who owns the most expensive car, the biggest house, got married first, went to the coolest place for their honeymoon? Comparing yourself to others can be like falling down an endless rabbit hole.

You are special, and not an exact replica of anyone else. Think about it. Even if you were the genetic twin to someone, you would have grown up with different experiences, different influences, different activities, ideas and thoughts. Your personalities wouldn’t be the same. Your likes and dislikes wouldn’t be the same. So why would your personal and career achievements be absolutely identical and accomplished at the same time? They wouldn’t. Try to begin seeing everyone, even yourself, as unique individuals.

Make a conscious effort to free yourself from comparisons. Practice celebrating your uniqueness and being proud of your accomplishments – no matter when in life they occur. Begin by creating a career development plan with goals and objectives; and then work toward accomplishing these at a comfortable pace.

And learn to celebrate the accomplishments of yourself and others. When a friend, family member or coworker shares an achievement, be genuinely happy for them. Instead of feeling jealous or inadequate, turn those feelings around and share in their excitement with heartfelt words of encouragement: “Congratulations! That’s wonderful news! Tell me about it.” And don’t forget to celebrate yourself. For example, if you love your job, share that feeling with others (such as at your high school reunion). If you’re excited about being asked to lead a project, focus on the joy and happiness that brings you and let it fill you with satisfaction.

Bottom Line: “Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday.”

Written by joshua becker · 95 Comments

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

Envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man’s self; and where there is no comparison, no envy.” —Sir Francis Bacon

Most of us understand the foolishness of trying to compare ourselves to others. We would readily admit that no good ever comes from it.

Yet, whether we are comparing our home size, paycheck, physical features, or any number of measurable (and even unmeasurable) things, we do it all the time. But there are inherent problems:

1. We most often compare the wrong things. Because we can most easily compare the things that we can objectively measure, we live in a world that is great at measuring and comparing externals. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we could determine who is living a more valuable life by comparing clothes, cars, homes, paychecks, beauty, or Twitter followers. But externals are rarely a good measure. Net-worth has never been a good indicator of self-worth.

2. We always compare our worst with their best. Comparing your life with others is always a losing proposition because there will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly live the perfect life. After all, we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others. Be advised, their life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be.

3. There is no end to the comparison game. There is an infinite number of categories upon which you can compare yourself… and an almost infinite number of people to compare yourself to. Once you start down that road, you will never, ever find an end.

4. Life isn’t graded on a curve. How you measure up against others holds absolutely no importance in your life anyway. It simply makes no difference. The goal of life is not to be better than 50% of the other people on the planet. The goal of life is to be the best you that you can possibly be.

5. Comparison puts your focus on the wrong person. You can control one life – yours. When we consistently compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.

6. Comparison robs you of joy. Comparing yourself to others will always cause you to regret what you aren’t, rather than allow you to enjoy life as who you are. It will always steal the joy and happiness that is within your reach… and place it just outside of your reach instead.

Many a contented life has been stolen by the unhealthy habit of comparing ourselves to others. Comparing ourselves to others will always rob us of gratitude, joy, and fulfillment.

But even more than than, it prevents us from fully living our lives. It calls us to envy someone else’s life and seek theirs rather than ours. It robs us of our most precious possession: life itself. And while the temptation to compare may never be completely eliminated, there are certainly some practical steps that we can take to move past it.

How can we stop comparing ourselves to others? Here are some helpful steps:

1. Recognize the inherent problems in comparing yourself to another. Take a good look at the list above. Why would we want any habit in our life that promotes feelings of inferiority? Or consistently promotes envy, competition, and strife with no end in sight? Sometimes, just a reminder of the foolishness contained in the habit is the most important step in overcoming it.

2. Celebrate who you are. There are many wonderful things about your life. You are an artist… or a businessman… or a mother… or a good listener… or a generous soul. You have much to celebrate and are entirely unique. Any comparison between you and another person is like comparing apples to oranges. They aren’t living your life, you are. Therefore, you should expect the results to be completely different.

3. Focus inward. Value generosity, humility, goodness, kindness, and love. Begin to focus on developing the inward qualities of a simplified life and the externals will lose their beauty. And the quicker we find beauty on the inside, the sooner we’ll stop comparing things on the outside (skin-deep beauty, paychecks, or power).

4. Realize life is not a competition. There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out.

5. Remember that nobody is perfect. We live in a society that glamorizes perfection. Consider that magazine racks are full of models and celebrities with perfect faces telling one-sided stories of great triumph and fulfillment. One important step to avoiding the lure of comparison is to remember that one snapshot in time never tells the whole story. The story is never told of the hours in a make-up room or the photo editing technique to cover the blemishes. The story is rarely told of their insecurities or failures (except to mention how they overcame them). That story doesn’t sell nearly as many magazines. But the truth remains: there are no perfect people – including you and including me.

6. Live as intentional as possible. Too many people live their lives without intentionality or thought. They rarely find a quiet moment to sit in meditation or solitude and examine their life – who they are and who they are becoming. As a result, lives are lived as a reaction to the events around them. But when a life is lived intentionally and thoughtfully, the comparison game becomes less attractive.

As humans, it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others. But nothing good ever comes from it. So let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. We were not born to live their life. There is no sense wasting our life (or energy) being jealous of theirs. Instead, let’s start living our lives. Let’s determine today to be good at it. After all, we only get one shot.

When I met with a mentee recently, she looked sad and a bit depressed. When I asked her if anything was wrong, her shoulders sagged lower, and she said was feeling like a failure in her career and her life.

I was surprised by her comment because the last time we had spoken (a few months prior), she had been excited to share with me that she had received a pay raise, been given a leadership role on a new project in her department and had even been recognized and praised by her boss for her outstanding work.

What had changed? Turns out, she had been reading a lot of social media posts by her friends. One had just been promoted to a management role and was now leading a team of people for the first time. Another had posted pictures of her first international business trip to Europe. One friend had just purchased her first house. Another had bought an expensive, new sports car. Two others had announced their engagements and one friend had gotten married and posted the pictures.

“I feel like such a loser,” she said, slouching lower in the chair. “Everyone else is doing amazing things with their lives. I want to be happy for them, really, I do. But it just makes me crazy when I realize how far behind I am.”

When I asked her what she meant about being so “far behind” her friends, here’s what she said: “I’m 28 years old and I still don’t have a management job. I haven’t traveled anywhere on business. I don’t earn enough to buy a house or condo, or even a different car. And I don’t even have time for a boyfriend right now, but it seems like all my friends are either getting engaged or married. This really sucks.”

Then she shook her head and rolled her eyes. “And if that isn’t bad enough, my high school reunion is this summer. Everyone’s going to be comparing their accomplishments and bragging about their jobs. Then I’ll really feel like a loser.”

My heart went out to her, because I remembered similar situations early on in my career, when I had done the same thing – compared myself to others. The difference was that, back then, we didn’t have social media. So I wasn’t bombarded with the accomplishments of my friends, like many people are who spend time on their social media accounts on a daily basis.

With age comes perspective (and hopefully wisdom), so I shared with my mentee some of the things I’ve learned, as I’ve grown older.

Comparing yourself to others’ accomplishments is a losing battle. There is an endless supply of people to whom you could compare yourself and your accomplishments, but, inevitably, you’ll always end up on the losing side of the comparison. That’s because there will always be someone who has done something that you wished you could also accomplish.

And, it will only take you down a never-ending spiral. Once you start comparing yourself to others, where do you draw the line? Do you compare only career-related achievements, such as job titles, compensation, number of direct reports, perks and benefits, business travel locations, or whether they have an office with a door or work in a cubicle? Do you compare personal accomplishments, such as who owns the most expensive car, the biggest house, got married first, went to the coolest place for their honeymoon? Comparing yourself to others can be like falling down an endless rabbit hole.

You are special, and not an exact replica of anyone else. Think about it. Even if you were the genetic twin to someone, you would have grown up with different experiences, different influences, different activities, ideas and thoughts. Your personalities wouldn’t be the same. Your likes and dislikes wouldn’t be the same. So why would your personal and career achievements be absolutely identical and accomplished at the same time? They wouldn’t. Try to begin seeing everyone, even yourself, as unique individuals.

Make a conscious effort to free yourself from comparisons. Practice celebrating your uniqueness and being proud of your accomplishments – no matter when in life they occur. Begin by creating a career development plan with goals and objectives; and then work toward accomplishing these at a comfortable pace.

And learn to celebrate the accomplishments of yourself and others. When a friend, family member or coworker shares an achievement, be genuinely happy for them. Instead of feeling jealous or inadequate, turn those feelings around and share in their excitement with heartfelt words of encouragement: “Congratulations! That’s wonderful news! Tell me about it.” And don’t forget to celebrate yourself. For example, if you love your job, share that feeling with others (such as at your high school reunion). If you’re excited about being asked to lead a project, focus on the joy and happiness that brings you and let it fill you with satisfaction.

Bottom Line: “Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday.”

Break the habit of feeling insecure, envious, and discontented with your life.

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
—Theodore Roosevelt

Who do you most frequently compare yourself to?

If you’re not sure, try this question: Who have you compared yourself to in the last 24 hours?

If you’re still not sure, think of the last time you checked your Facebook or Instagram feed. Which updates made you feel envious, or made you feel as if your life paled in comparison? In turn, did any posts make you feel smug, or better than that person?

The comparison game—or war—is as old as humanity.

I avoid mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds as much as possible. As part of my work (I speak and write about wellness, resilience, burnout and mental health), I read the studies that show that time on social media feeds increases depression and envy and decreases well-being. This motivates me to use social media purposefully, specifically choosing what I will look at and keeping it to a minimum.

I almost always regret it when I let my guard down and start scrolling. I’ll inevitably see something that makes me feel bad about myself or my life, or something else that makes me feel envious, that I’m missing something from my life that others have (something I probably wasn’t even thinking of until I saw it). I posted about the comparison trap the other day on Facebook, and a senior citizen posted a comment that made my heart ache:

“Reading about everyone’s vacations kills me. Not in my budget, ever. And these posts never stop.”

I’ve written previously about developing awareness about the impact of your social media posts on others. I stopped posting pictures from my vacations years ago. Share those, perhaps, with a limited audience, maybe close family and friends who really want to see them. But…ask yourself first if they really want to see them. Before you show anything to anyone, review what you know about their life. When’s the last time they went on a tropical vacation? Maybe they dream of going to the tropics but have never had (and may never have) the opportunity. You’d be surprised how many people don’t actually enjoy pictures of you lounging by a clear blue sea with a coconut drink in your hand.

Back to Roosevelt’s quote about comparison being the thief of joy. In addition to cultivating awareness with respect to inadvertently (or advertently) provoking comparison and therefore stealing the joy of others, become a student of how you squander your own contentedness by getting sucked into the comparison trap.

Here are some tips:

1. Become aware of, and avoid, your triggers.

Start noticing the situations that cause you to play the comparison game. Social media, as I’ve mentioned, is a big one for most of us. What about other circumstances? Is there a certain person who is constantly bragging about this or that, or asks you questions about your life that are designed to make you feel inferior? Are there certain activities, such as strolling through a high-end shopping mall, or driving through an expensive neighborhood, that frequently make you feel discontented with your life (when you were feeling just fine about your life, an hour before)?

Make a list of who and what you frequently envy or compare yourself to. Write how each negatively affects you, and why it’s actually a waste of your time. Resolve to catch yourself next time. Avoid comparison triggers if you can, especially if the activity or contact doesn’t add meaning or any real value to your life.

2. Remind yourself that other people’s “outsides” can’t be compared to your “insides”

This is such a helpful habit to cultivate. Unless you’re really close to someone, you can’t use their outward appearance to judge the reality of their life. People carefully curate the social media versions of their lives, and do the same with the lives they live out publicly. You may have had the experience, as I have, of being shocked when a couple that appeared to be happy and solid announce their divorce. Continue to wish others well, of course, but in the event that their life gives you reason to feel bad about yours, remind yourself that you don’t actually know what goes on behind closed doors.

3. Repeat whenever necessary: “Money doesn’t buy happiness, and never will”

It’s well established that wealth, beyond having the basics in life, isn’t associated with increased happiness or well-being. I used to perform flamenco dance at an exclusive resort frequented by celebrities and the mega-wealthy, and a manager there once told me that she’d never seen so many unhappy people in her life. Money and things provide temporary boosts of joy; their inevitable inability to provide lasting sustenance is usually more disappointing than anything else.

4. Be grateful for the good in your life, and resist any lies that shout “It’s not enough”

If you commit yourself to being deeply grateful for what’s good in your life, and remind yourself of it daily, you’ll be far less vulnerable to comparison and envy. If someone or something triggers that ugly feeling of negative comparison, stop and remind yourself of what’s good in your life, right now. There is so much.

5. Use comparison as motivation to improve what actually matters

This human propensity to want what others have is such a waste of time, unless what you see and “covet” in another is something of deep worth, such as their generosity or kindness. Who do you admire? What kinds of comparisons might actually be healthy for you? For example, there are women I know well who are extraordinarily kind and generous wives, mothers, and friends. They truly make a difference in their worlds, and I want to be more and more like them. Who inspires you to live better, in the way that matters most? Spend your precious time and thoughts on this, instead.

Imagine if you could elevate the comparison game to a useful art form. Stop falling prey to its dark underbelly, which does little more than increase feelings of misery and lack in your life. Use comparison, instead, to become a better person and maybe even make your little corner of the world a better place.

Written by joshua becker · 250 Comments

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. Typically, I blame it on having a twin brother who is five inches taller with much broader shoulders. But if I was being truly honest, more likely, it is simply a character flaw hidden somewhere deep in my heart.

I’ve lived most of my life comparing myself to others. At first, it was school and sports. But as I got older, I began comparing other metrics: job title, income level, house size, and worldly successes.

I have discovered there is an infinite number of categories upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to. And with how flooded we are by social media, it’s easier than ever to constantly find someone “better” to compare ourselves to, which only serves to make us feel bad about ourselves.

Once we begin down that road, we never find an end.

The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. Certainly, I’m not alone in my experience. But it is a decision that only steals joy from our lives. And it is a habit with numerous shortcomings:

  • Comparisons are always unfair. We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
  • Comparisons, by definition, require metrics. But only a fool believes every good thing can be counted (or measured).
  • Comparisons rob us of precious time. We each get 86,400 seconds each day. And using even one to compare yourself or your accomplishments to another is one second too many.
  • You are too unique to compare fairly. Your gifts and talents and successes and contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
  • You have nothing to gain, but much to lose. For example: your pride, your dignity, your drive, and your passion.
  • There is no end to the possible number of comparisons. The habit can never be overcome by attaining success. There will also be something—or someone—else to focus on.
  • Comparison puts focus on the wrong person. You can control one life—yours. But when we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
  • Comparisons often result in resentment. Resentment towards others and towards ourselves.
  • Comparisons deprive us of joy. They add no value, meaning, or fulfillment to our lives. They only distract from it.

Indeed, the negative effects of comparisons are wide and far-reaching. Likely, you have experienced (or are experiencing) many of them first-hand in your life as well.

How then, might we break free from this habit of comparison?

Tips on How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
How do you stop constantly comparing yourself to others? Here are some useful tips that have worked really well:

  • Be aware of its ill effects. Take notice of the harmful effects comparing yourself to others has on your life. Intentionally remove it from the inside-out to free yourself from the damage this mindset has had on you.
  • See your own successes. Whether you are a writer, musician, doctor, landscaper, mother, or student, you have a unique perspective backed by unique experiences and unique gifts. You have the capacity to love, serve, and contribute. You have everything you need to accomplish good in your little section of the world. With that opportunity squarely in front of you, become intimately aware of your past successes. And find motivation in them to pursue more.
  • Desire the greater things in life. Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else and remove yourself entirely from society’s definition of success.
  • Compete less and appreciate more. There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out. The first and most important step in overcoming the habit of competition is to routinely appreciate and compliment the contribution of others.
  • Practice gratitude. Gratitude always forces us to recognize the good things we already have in our world. Remind yourself nobody is perfect. While focusing on the negatives is rarely as helpful as focusing on the positives, there is important space to be found remembering that nobody is perfect and nobody is living a painless life. Triumph requires an obstacle to be overcome. And everybody is suffering through their own, whether you are close enough to know it or not.
  • Take a walk. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others, get up and change your surroundings. Go for a walk—even if only to the other side of the room. Allow the change in your surroundings to prompt change in your thinking.
  • Find inspiration without comparison. Comparing our lives with others is foolish. But finding inspiration and learning from others is entirely wise. Work hard to learn the difference. Humbly ask questions of the people you admire or read biographies as inspiration. But if comparison is a consistent tendency in your life, notice which attitudes prompt positive change and which result in negative influence.
  • Compare with yourself. We ought to strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves—not only for our own selves but for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Commit to growing a little bit each day. And learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.

With so many negative effects inherent in comparison, it is a shame we ever take part in it. But the struggle is real for most of us. Fortunately, it does not need to be. And the freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort.

Stop comparing yourself to everyone else’s highlight reels.

Further Reading

    USA Today covers a study performed by researchers from Lancaster University that highlighted the common feelings of depression that follows frequent posting on social media. It’s worth a read to see how platforms like Facebook can negatively affect our mental health.

If you’re interested in reading the study yourself, you can find it here. But be aware that the study itself isn’t accessible for free (while the USA Today article is free to read).

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

How do you stop comparing yourself to others?

This is a question that one of the members in my Life Mastery Accelerator program recently asked me.

The problem is that we live in a digital world where it’s become the norm to become an observer of other peoples’ lives.

A study found that Facebook use was associated with lower self-esteem, poorer mental health, and greater body shame. In fact, those that quit Facebook instantly experienced a boost in life satisfaction and positivity.

If you feel like your life isn’t measuring up to your peers, keep reading! I’m going to show how to stop comparing yourself to others.

Watch the video below:

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Comparing yourself to others is normal.

At some point in your life, you will compare yourself to other people. When it feels like you are farther behind others, it’s easy to compare. However, you are wasting time if all you are doing is focusing on other people’s lives at the expense of your own.

The trick is learning how to use comparison as a tool for growth and motivation. Comparing yourself to people whom you admire and aspire to become is a good thing.

In their book, Friend and Foe: When To Cooperate, When To Compete, and How To Succeed at Both, Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer suggest that social comparison is a natural human tendency. Rather than being hardwired to compete or cooperate, we have evolved to do both. The goal is to learn how to strike the right balance between these two forces so that you can get more of whatever it is that you want in life.

If you want to stop comparing yourself to others, the first thing you need to do is figure out the root cause of this behavior. Oftentimes, this comes from an over-valuing of the human need for significance. If the only way that you evaluate your worth is by way of social comparison, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment.

There will always be someone that is farther ahead than you. In turn, this will cause you to feel like you are falling behind. With this mindset, you won’t be able to move forward with life. You will always feel stuck in one place. I think we can all agree that this doesn’t feel good.

The problem is that we live in a society that feeds off of our need for significance.

We are sold, and buy into the idea, that we aren’t enough. In effect, we are programmed to be dissatisfied with who we are. Research has found that comparing breeds feelings of envy, low-self confidence, and depression.

The second best way to stop comparing yourself to others is to start giving more weight to other human needs. Focus on needs that have a bigger positive impact than negative. For example, there is no downside to focusing on the need for growth, contribution or love. In fact, by being a giver, people will make you significant without having to ask for it.

Lastly, you could always do a digital detox. I would argue that this is only a bandaid solution to a bigger problem. However, it will give you the space to start focusing on your own life instead of obsessing about the lives of others.

Are you ready to stop comparing yourself to others?

When you stop comparing yourself to others, you start focusing on what is working well in your life. In the words of Lecrae, “Stop comparing yourself to others. You have your own race to run. Finish well.” You are more than enough and you are doing the best that you can with what you have. Don’t forget it.

Want me to know how to master every area of your life? CLICK HERE to join my Life Mastery Accelerator program!

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

Why do you constantly compare yourself to others?

If you’re like me, you don’t intentionally play the comparison game. It just happens. Before you know it, you’ve sized yourself up, measured someone else by your own standards, or concluded – after observation and the collection of a few facts – that you’re inferior or superior to someone else.

Comparison is an ugly game. Jesus warned us not to get caught up in it, especially when it came to how we “look” religiously.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable to “some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.” He told of a Pharisee who thanked God he wasn’t like other people (particularly a tax collector he saw enter the temple) but was one who fasted twice a week and gave a tenth of all he received. But Jesus said “I tell you that this man, [the tax collector who pleaded for God to have mercy on him] rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I don’t believe we set out to exalt ourselves when we compare ourselves to others. But certainly we don’t play the comparison game with the aim of feeling inadequate as a result.

You and I compare ourselves to others out of our insecurity. We hope to feel better about ourselves if we end up ahead. We also compare because of our competitive or perfectionist nature – we have the desire to be right, perfect, or just better than another. But comparison rarely leads to humility, which pleases God and saves us the stress of constantly running our measuring stick over others in front of us.

Here are four ways to stop comparing yourself to others (and find peace and contentment in being yourself):

1. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 18:30 tells us God’s ways are “perfect” and Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Therefore you are God’s unique creation. As you surrender your heart and will to Him, He can mold you and transform you into exactly what He wants you to be. So when you begin to feel inadequate and feel the temptation to compare, quietly whisper a prayer of thanks to God for making you the way you are.

2. Realize we all have different strengths and weaknesses.

I once heard my father jokingly say to someone, “There will always be someone thinner, richer, and better looking, so get used to it.” I realize now that his advice is true. No matter how hard you and I try, someone will always be better at something than we are. So when we start feeling the need to compare, we must recognize our opportunity to practice humility. This, too, can come through a simple prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, that in my weakness, You are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Help me rely on You and Your strength, rather than seek out someone who appears weaker than me to make myself feel stronger.

3. Choose compliments over comparison.

When you notice a mom who is able to manage her many kids in public better than you can, don’t start thinking of the many reasons she’s probably able to do that (she doesn’t work, she’s rich, she has a husband who dotes on her). Instead, compliment her on it. I once saw a woman in a store wearing the same top I had… only she looked better in it. She was shorter, thinner, and younger. Rather than dwell on that (and begin to hate her for it) I quickly said “I have that same top, but you look so much better in it. Good job.” The sincere smile on my face killed the self pity that could have arisen in my heart that I’m not younger, thinner or more able to rock that top. Genuinely complimenting others outwardly keeps us from complaining inwardly and cultivating a critical spirit.

4. Rely on God’s opinion rather than the opinion of others.

Our own insecurity often causes us to compare ourselves with others, looking for a way to feel superior. But what if you and I relied on God’s opinion of us before we had a chance to listen to our own, or others’ opinions. If someone is praising a woman who hasn’t done half of what you’ve done, quietly thank God that He sees your heart and actions and He knows the real story. If someone is bragging about her own abilities, don’t start comparing her talents with yours. Instead, quietly whisper “This doesn’t matter, God. Help me to be content with Your evaluation of me over anything else.” Sometimes we have to tell ourselves what to think in order to keep our minds from going in the wrong direction. Not only are you and I fearfully and wonderfully made, but when we are in Christ, He sees us as perfect in Christ. That means we have God’s measuring stick, not our own or that of others to live by.

Please pray with me:

Lord, please help me to find my security in You and Your view of me, not in sizing myself up against others and trying to come out ahead. Give me a humble heart that is focused on pleasing You and help me to remember that apart from Jesus, there is nothing I can do to impress You or anyone else. Instead of comparing myself to others, help me to compare myself only to Jesus and then rely on Your strength to make me more like Him, not anyone else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker who helps women strengthen their walk with God and their relationships. and She is the author of 15 books including, When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When God Sees Your Tears, and God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, a devotional for those who long to hear God’s voice. Her newest book, Drama Free, releases in April. For more on her speaking ministry, or free articles to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: February 21, 2017

In today’s day and age of social media and the Internet, it’s almost impossible not to know what your network is doing, saying and purchasing at any given moment. It’s easy for a sense of “keeping up with the Joneses” to set in, leaving your sense of contentment in the hands of other people. On some level you might realize it’s best not to compare yourself to the curated online presence of your friends online, yet old habits die hard when you’ve fallen for a mindset like this. To understand how to stop comparing yourself to others, it’s crucial that you embrace your own unique strengths as a basis for self-acceptance.

Want to find your own unique confidence?

Examples of comparing yourself to others

One of the reasons it’s so challenging to learn how to stop comparing yourself to others is that humans are social creatures. At each stage of life, we must also compete against each other for survival – for an education, meaningful career opportunities and fulfilling relationships . If we’re not careful, our focus slips outward, and we look to others’ progress to gauge our own. Given our evolutionary predisposition, the tendency to compare ourselves to others can sneak into almost any situation.

Believing other people have all the luck

The belief that you’re unlucky is an insidious belief. Whenever you suffer an injustice, there’s always someone out there who didn’t suffer the same misfortune, which leaves room for speculation that everyone else is luckier than you. If you’re not careful, believing your life is cursed overshadows your own skills and talents, undermining your sense of self-direction. Mastering how to not compare yourself to others means putting incidences of bad luck in perspective so you’re able to leverage your resources effectively.

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

Believing other people are more successful

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

The belief that you’re subpar to everyone else often finds its roots innocently enough – in the fact that there are people who are outwardly more successful than almost everyone (think Bill Gates). While it’s true that rockstars stand out for a reason – not everyone has the skill set necessary to be a rockstar – the reality is far more nuanced regarding your own personal capacity for success. Everyone has struggles. Bill Gates himself says that success can actually hamper growth, since success seduces even smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

Embrace imperfection as the norm

Social media lets us curate our lives to present a veneer of perfection. We begin to define our own success by how well others think we’re doing. Learning how to not compare yourself to others starts with acknowledging the fact that no one is perfect. No matter how polished someone appears on your news feed, the reality is that no profile is an accurate reflection of an individual’s actual success. Do not compare yourself to others – there is no need to.

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

Build your internal compass

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

Asking how to stop comparing yourself to others starts with finding your true identity. Instead of finding guidance and inspiration from other people, look inside. Your internal compass is your antidote to a self-esteem built upon externally sourced values or perceptions. Benjamin Franklin was an exemplar here. He reportedly kept tally of how many personal goals he met each day (most of his goals were related to temperance and self-control). He also set daily goals for doing good deeds that day. By divesting himself of others’ standards and expectations, Ben Franklin was able to build an impactful, meaningful life.

Create real significance

If you’re struggling with how to not compare yourself to others, your struggles may be rooted in the desire for significance. Significance is one of the 6 Human Needs that influence every thought, feeling and behavior we have. When the need for significance is not being met, it’s easy to look to others for meaning.

The truth is you must do the work to find and build significance into your life. Embrace positive ways to find meaning, like giving back through volunteering or donating to a charity. As you work to build a meaningful life aligned with your values, you’ll discover a greater sense of contentment.

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

Focus on your unique strengths

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

When you’re working on breaking the habit of comparing yourself to others, it’s tempting to adopt a mantra about the bad habit, like “never compare yourself to others.” This approach actually backfires, for the same reasons dieting backfires – when you tell yourself not to eat sugar, it becomes a forbidden fruit, which makes it all the more attractive. Spare yourself the stress and focus on your strengths and skills instead.

Congratulate others for their successes

Empathy is a powerful tool for mastering how to stop comparing yourself to others. As you work on developing your self-confidence, you’re able to enjoy others’ successes without being threatened by them. By celebrating others’ accomplishments, you eliminate the need to compare yourself to them.

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

Finally ready to stop comparing yourself to others?

Discover how to find your own unique confidence with Tony Robbins’ Limiting Beliefs E-Book.

How to focus on yourself and stop unnecessary comparison

You use other people to gauge your success, or failure. We all do it—compare ourselves to other, maybe more successful, people. Without seeing what others around you have achieved, how else would you know what’s possible, right? But as you progress in your career, that benchmark effect can actually lead to professional jealousy, which can hamper your own success and lead to unnecessary stress if you let it build.

So it’s important to acknowledge jealous feelings, because the time and energy you expend worrying about what others are doing could (and should) be put into building your own career, your own business, instead.

You can take steps to recognize and reduce professional jealousy. Try these four:

1. See the full picture.

Pastor and author Steven Furtick once said, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is especially true in a social media-driven era where everyone boasts about their accomplishments without revealing the details behind them. That award your competitor brags about winning might have been handed over by a friend. The major successes you see other entrepreneurs achieving likely came after years of failure, none of which they tweet about.

When you find yourself feeling envious of someone else’s successes, reread your own biography or scroll through your social media feeds. Consider how your own successes might look to someone else and congratulate yourself on all your achievements. It’s easy to forget how much you’ve accomplished when you’re constantly working toward your next goal.

2. Congratulate them.

You might notice that as your colleagues achieve great things, their circle of true friends tends to diminish. The number of congratulatory responses to their tweets will probably dwindle as the awards, funding rounds and media attention increases. By being one of the few in the industry issuing congratulations, you’ll not only look gracious, but you’ll be networking with someone who has accomplished big things and might be able to help you along the way.

Part of congratulating your industry colleagues and competitors is recognizing that a win for them is a win for everyone. Instead of seeing someone else’s win as a loss for you, recognize that there’s room for more than one person at the top and these successes actually pave the way for other ideas and growing businesses.

3. Redirect your focus.

Instead of turning green with envy, turn the focus back on yourself and ask what you can do to achieve what others have achieved. If someone else wins an award, is it an award you wanted? If so, what can you do to put yourself in line for it, as well as other awards, next year? If a friend just landed major funding or a raise at work, what can you do to work toward achieving that goal yourself?

As your friends, co-workers and colleagues achieve success, it can serve as a to-do list for growing your own career. Chances are you first decided to go after your current goals because of the things you saw over the course of your life. If you can return to a place where you observe the accomplishments of those around you and strive to achieve the same things in your own career, you can turn a detrimental emotion into something that’s healthier—motivation.

4. Look away.

If you find yourself focusing far too much on other people, just stop. Unfollow them on Twitter and drop the alerts you’ve set up for them. While it’s important to keep up with the activities of people in your field, spending an unhealthy amount of time and energy on them is more harmful than helpful.

By the same token, if people are jealous of your successes, distance yourself from them, too. If those around you constantly denigrate your accomplishments to make themselves feel better, you’re probably better off without them in your life. These people bring a toxic, negative energy to your interactions, and that can impact your self-confidence.