Comparison has been ingrained in us since we were kids. From standing next to our friend or sibling to see who is tallest, to swapping and marking each other’s homework at school. That sense of comparison has only exacerbated as we’ve grown older, through magazines, social media and at times our surroundings making us feel like we need to sustain unrealistic standards in order to be accepted.
It’s great to have high standards or high expectations of ourselves, but working tirelessly to live up to unrealistic end goals (which may not even make us happy) can just feel exhausting.
Often comparison can be fuelled by not feeling good enough, which could have something to do with society’s idea of what being ‘good enough’ actually is.
In many cases, society’s representation of ‘success’ suggests we go to school, college and university before getting a getting a ‘proper job’. Once we reach that ideal career we will continue to work our way up the ladder, not stopping for a break or to recognise our previous achievements. All until we are busy, important and rich enough to retire! *Being light hearted…but kind of serious.*
Society’s representation of ‘settling down’ can bring questions following every mile stone, putting pressure on that next step. e.g. ‘When are you going to get married, have a baby or have another?’ This unneeded pressure may encourage people to rush into things without being sure or ready.
Society’s (unrealistic) representation of ‘beauty’ could be fuelled by magazines, photo shopped images on social media and programmes like Love Island; lacking diversity and often only celebrating one body type / shape, making this seem like the norm. Yes, these people are absolutely beautiful, and also not to blame. But, rather than beauty being generic, isn’t it in the eye of the beholder?
We often live our lives according to the things that ‘should’ make us happy, following society’s representation of happiness rather than listening to ourselves and reflecting on our own feelings and emotions. We are individual – that’s what makes life so exciting! Comparing ourselves to others seems pointless (and a waste of precious time), especially since the person we compare ourselves to may have a totally different view on beauty, success and happiness to us.
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ Theodore Roosevelt
Comparison or setting standards based on other people can lead to feelings of inadequacy. You do you! Recognise your goals, consider what makes you happy and chose not to conform if it doesn’t fit.
Here are a few ways we can prioritise compassion over comparison:
Create a healthy relationship with social media
As we know, often individuals only share the absolute highlights of their reality. So, we can find ourselves comparing our lows to another person’s highs. Set boundaries online and try to consider less time on social apps when you aren’t feeling your best. Unfollow those accounts or platforms that don’t serve you or make you feel guilt, judgment or not good enough.
Recognise your triggers
What is it that you’re comparing? Do you feel satisfied and fulfilled in this area of your own life? If you do, remind yourself of why. If you don’t – what could you change?
Try not to get caught up in what other people think
People will always have an opinion, however how you chose to react to that opinion is down to you. It’s hard, but knowing that negative judgement from someone else about your choices is often a reflection on them, not you. Work to move away from worrying about what others think, it will save time, energy and potentially increase confidence too!
If you’re getting bogged down in comparison, switch it up and consider what you’re grateful for.
If you’re focussing on aesthetics, remind yourself of what you like about yourself and what you’re grateful that your body does, both on the inside and out. Gratitude is a reminder to focus on the good – direct your attention toward that.
Celebrate small wins
When we whizz through life with a ‘what’s next?’ mentality, we are less able to celebrate our small wins which actually lead us to the bigger ones! Stop, reflect and celebrate the small stuff – it will remind you of how far you’ve come.
Free yourself of the myth of a perfect life
We do not need to strive for perfection to be happy - perfection doesn’t exist. Rather than focussing on what others have, what others are doing or how others look, direct your attention toward yourself, what you like about yourself and what is best for you in the present moment.
Celebrate your individuality and remind yourself daily:
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
The ‘Wellness with Anna’ philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health. Often, the tools needed to make a lasting change are already in your toolbox. I offer client led guidance in order to support the progress of an individual working to meet their personal wellness goals. I will not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness change, but direct, listen and support development. We work together on a journey to make health a main priority, both physically and mentally.