How I’m Trying to Make Comparison Positive

I’ve been thinking a lot about comparison recently, mainly because I’ve been comparing myself to people on social media way more than is healthy. I know that what I see on social media isn’t the whole story, and I know that everyone is on their own path, but I still compare myself (99.9999% of the time negatively) to the images I see in an even more extreme way than I do irl. And it’s making me sad.

But comparison isn’t really something you can quit in the way you can quit eating coco pops for breakfast. We all compare ourselves to other people. We might compare ourselves more or less. We might compare different things. But we all do it. We all also know that comparing ourselves to others isn’t the most beneficial habit too. So, I don’t quite get the shaming that’s starting to come with comparing yourself. It’s like the shaming that comes from not “choosing” to be happy, or loving your body. Sure, I’d love to be happy, decide I look great, and never look at someone else’s Instagram and go damn I wish I’d made that. But I’m human. You can’t just turn off those feelings all of the time.

Instead of trying to stop comparing myself to others, I am recognising the fact that other people are quite often my frame of reference and I am never going to be comparison free. So, I’m trying out some techniques to mean that comparing myself to someone else doesn’t always have to be a negative experience.

COMPARE WITH YOURSELF

I’m trying this thing where whenever I compare myself to someone else, I also try and compare myself to my past self. It’s been a good way of reminding me I’m growing no matter where I am compared to someone else, and how the difference in life stage/experience/opportunity can make such a big difference to where you’re at. If you’ve just finished your A-level in biology you’re not going to have as much knowledge as someone who’s just finished their PHD, but that doesn’t mean you won’t or can’t or don’t know way more about something else. The only person who’s at exactly the same stage as you, who’s had the same opportunities, is you so you’re the main person you should be comparing yourself to.

REACH OUT

Every time you see someone do something so good and you compare yourself and feel a little bad, tell them. Well, don’t tell them you feel awful but do tell them you like what they’re doing and it’s impressed you. Pick out what in particular it is that’s caught your eye and let them know. That way you’re turning your negative feeling into a positive and sharing it. As well as just sharing compliments, reach out to start a conversation where appropriate (don’t ask anyone to share their trade secrets etc. etc. etc.). Befriend that person, become their supporter. You’ll feel good. They’ll feel good. And perhaps, you’ll even be able to inspire and learn from each other.

PUSH YOURSELF INSTEAD

This is the “don’t get mad, get even” approach. If you’re consistently comparing yourself to someone who’s making something awesome – don’t feel bad that you’re not doing something, make something flipping awesome yourself. Channel that negative energy into creating and use it to drive you to make the best things you can.

FIND MEASURES YOU CAN CONTROL

I spoke about this a while ago in my goals post but it is so important to measure your success by metrics that you can control. So, while it makes perfect sense to care about and check your Instagram followers for example, measuring how successful you are by how many followers you have isn’t healthy. As much as what you post and what hashtags you use etc. can have an effect you are relying on the algorithm shining on you favourably and, ultimately, someone else performing an action. Other people shouldn’t be in charge of your success, you should be. Instead make your goals about creating content consistently or improving what you make.

DON’T FORGET THERE IS NO WINNING

When we compare ourselves we’re ultimately making life a competition, and it’s often presented that way so it makes sense that’s how we think. But life’s not a competition. We don’t all start at the same point, we don’t all stop at the same point, there is no points based system. There’s just however much fun you’re having right now. You don’t get a trophy you just get memories. So try not to forget that even if someone is “ahead” of you in some aspect, whatever that may be, you’re not competing (unless you’re in a literal race in which case ignore all of this)

 

Do you have any top tips for getting over comparison? I’d love to know what they are/please help me!

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5 Comments

  1. September 28, 2017 / 1:47 am

    I feel relate to this post. In my opinion i believe that maybe, it is not about comparing yourself with others, it may be the desire to have what others have at that particular moment. Especially in this time where everything is based on the popularity of social networks. But you mentioned something very important “compare with yourself and work hard. ” that’s the key.

    Your work is fantastic! You are very talented person. Keep it up! 🙂

    • Natalie
      October 4, 2017 / 11:34 am

      Thanks so much Marisa! I think “the desire to have what others have at that particular moment” is a great way of putting it, and you only ever want some part of that experience too

  2. September 28, 2017 / 8:16 am

    Heya 🙂 The comparison game is indeed a truly biological thing of our species. Back in the day I wrote my bachelor thesis about “status comparison and how businesses exploit that”. And I still remember that the psychology, the upward and downward comparison, can never be stopped. You look up and might feel you’re not good enough, you look down and see how far you’ve come. Looking up can also be like a push to the next level – as you pointed out. Whenever I do too much comparison, I try not to watch/read/etc so much content, focus more on myself etc… Anyway, just some ramblings. Lovely post and your illustrations – top, top, top.
    x finja ~ http://www.effcaa.com

    • Natalie
      October 4, 2017 / 11:36 am

      Your thesis sounds absolutely fascinating, and it’s so nice to be backed up by some science! I think you’re right that when you get into a spiral of comparison the best thing to do is to take a step back and focus on getting on with whatever it is that you’re doing

  3. October 1, 2017 / 8:16 am

    You can’t just turn off those feelings all of the time. thank you, thank you. this post is so real and probably one of the realest out there. we see a lot of articles and blog posts talking about comparing ourselves to other people by saying crap like “don’t be (like that), everyone is struggling too. you are great, we are great yadda yadda yadda” and i feel like those are so pretentious albeit true. it’s like a blog post where people refuse to embrace the ugliness that emotion like jealousy and insecurity and for me, that is just so…fake? so my point is, i love that you’re speaking about this honestly – that we all do it, this comparison thing and it’s okay because we can turn it into something to push and motivate us to strife better. i think that’s how people should do it instead of trying so hard to suppress the emotion because really, how far can suppressing one’s emotion goes anyway? i remember how i wrote a post about something similar like this and then the next day, my insecurity strikes and i tweet about em on twitter and someone end up telling me, “didn’t you say we shouldn’t compare ourselves?” i don’t know, it’s just… why do people expect us to shut down the emotion even if we say comparing ourselves to others is bad? i think people are expecting us to completely remove that thought just because we know how to counter it. they forget just because we want to have a positive outlook doesn’t mean we can shut down the negative ringings in our mind.

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