Early this morning while waiting for a client to arrive I was perusing some books on Amazon (I don’t think my thirst for knowledge will ever be quenched!) when I spotted something and my heart skipped a beat.
I saw someone I know, and actually used to mentor many years ago, had published a Hay House book.
This individual is known to many entrepreneurial women across the globe and has achieved phenomenal success, creating a multi-million-pound business.
My mind was about to jump onto a very old habitual train of thought of comparing myself to them and everything that they have achieved when I stopped myself. I KNEW that the second I stepped onto that train of thought it would take me on a high-speed journey to the destination of ‘not enough’ and I’d feel like crap.
Having done so much inner work, I knew this was simply an old automatic and conditioned thought structure, one which I’d created from years of comparing myself to other people.
Instead, I saw the situation for what it was – an old response to an OLD identity. I then did a session of Quantum Flow on myself (more about that coming soon!) and stepped into the feeling of my true identity.
In the age of social media and constant connectivity, it’s nearly impossible to avoid comparing ourselves to others. Whether it’s scrolling through Instagram or Linked IN, or simply observing our peers, the tendency to measure our worth against others is deeply ingrained in human psychology.
But why do we do it? It’s like self-harm! The act of comparing yourself never gives you anything, but it can take everything away from you.
The truth is, that the whole act of comparing yourself with others is tied to your current identity and self-worth. In evaluating ourselves through comparisons with others we are affirming who we think we are.
Comparing ourselves to others can provide a temporary boost to our self-esteem when we perceive ourselves as better off or more successful than those we’re comparing ourselves to. This validation can feel rewarding and momentarily increase our confidence. However, the flip side is that unfavourable comparisons can lead to a decrease in self-esteem, triggering feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness.
Insecurities and self-doubt can fuel the urge to compare ourselves to others. When we lack confidence in our abilities or appearance, we may look to others as benchmarks for what we should aspire to be. However, this can be a self-defeating cycle as it reinforces feelings of inadequacy.
Signs You’re Caught in the Comparison Trap
While social comparison is a natural aspect of human psychology, it’s crucial to recognise when it becomes detrimental to your mental and emotional well-being.
- Constant Social Media Scrolling: Do you find yourself endlessly scrolling through social media, comparing your life to the carefully curated highlights of others? This can be a clear sign of comparison.
- Feelings of Inadequacy: If you frequently feel inadequate or unworthy when you see others’ achievements, appearances, or lifestyles, it’s a strong indicator of comparison.
- Negative Self-Talk: Pay attention to your inner dialogue. Are you often criticising yourself for not measuring up to others? This self-deprecating talk is a classic symptom.
- Jealousy and Envy: Feeling jealous or envious of someone else’s success or happiness is a common response to comparison.
- Mood Swings: Comparing yourself to others can lead to mood swings, where you feel elated when you perceive yourself as better off and downcast when you feel inferior.
Breaking Free from the Comparison Trap
- Practice Self-Awareness: The first step in breaking the comparison cycle is to become aware of when you’re doing it. Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, and notice when you start comparing.
- Challenge Negative Thoughts: When you catch yourself comparing, challenge those negative thoughts. Ask yourself if they are rational and productive. Replace them with positive and self-compassionate affirmations.
- Limit Social Media Exposure: Consider reducing your time on social media platforms or unfollowing accounts that trigger feelings of inadequacy. Curate your online environment to be more uplifting and inspirational.
- Focus on Your Journey: Shift your focus from others to yourself. Concentrate on your personal growth, goals, and accomplishments. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small it may seem.
- Practice Gratitude: Regularly remind yourself of the things you’re grateful for in your life. Gratitude can help shift your perspective from what you lack to what you have.
- Seek Support: Talk to a therapist or coach about your struggles with comparison to get help with creating a new mindset, ditching your old identity and embodying a new identity.
Breaking free from the comparison trap is an ongoing journey, as I know only too well – but my goodness it’s THE most rewarding and fulfilling journey you’ll ever go on!
It requires self-awareness, self-compassion, and a commitment to nurturing your own growth and well-being. By recognising the signs of comparison and taking steps to change your thought patterns, you can regain control over your life and find greater contentment and fulfilment in being authentically yourself.
There is only one of you on this planet – give that inner you permission to shine their light!
Sara Maude is an Edinburgh Hypnotherapist, Solution-Focused Psychotherapist, EFT Practitioner, Transformational Coach and International Wellbeing Trainer providing in-person and online sessions. Sara provides problem-free therapy which goes deep into the heart of the unconscious mind to create powerful lasting change.