When Comparison Gets the Best of You


August 3, 2020

Comparison is easy. Comparison is natural. Comparison is the thief of joy.

I’ve spent the past couple weeks speaking with a number of people about comparison – what it looks like, what it feels like, how we let ourselves give into and get the best of us, and what we can do to overcome it.

I spoke with my dad this morning (he’s an attorney… so our jobs are obviously quite different) and I realized that no matter how different someone is from you, chances are they’ve fallen victim to the measuring stick too.

On Jobs:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked at one of your competitor’s output and immediately felt wildly unsuccessful. Yep, me too. Always remember that there’s a difference between keeping up with someone to stay inspired and keeping up with someone to compare your work to theirs. I’ve been there… stalking other photographers’ work and trying to see if my prices make sense and wondering if my work was better or worse and why. The weird thing, is that it’s just art! It’s completely subjective… so why did I care so much?

It doesn’t make sense to compare your middle to someone else’s end. And it certainly doesn’t make sense to compare your beginning to someone else’s end.

Remember that right now your focus should be on improvement and connection. Improve your workflow. Improve your customer retention and customer service. Improve the way you capture what you see. Improve the way you interact with your coworkers each day. It will pay off.

How to fix it:

First, stop allowing yourself to check in on what other people are doing. If that means you have to unfollow them on social, do it! It’s not personal. It’s just taking care of your emotional and mental well-being. The more out of sight their work is, the more out of mind it will be.

Focus on following and keeping up with accounts/competitors/creators that truly inspire you! What are they doing that you could take and put your own spin on to make it your own? Ask yourself what value they’re bringing to your life.

On Relationships:

The amount of times we see what our friends’ partners are doing for them on social is really frequent! Another bouquet here. Another box of chocolates there. A surprise puppy? A surprise, extravagant date? We’ve seen it all. And we see these things so often, we feel like those gifts and surprises and oftentimes out-of-the-ordinary gestures are normal. Maybe for someone, but not for everyone!

Remember that there are so many different ways to show love. It’s important to take the time to think about the ways you like to give and receive love, as well as the ways your partner likes to give and receive love. Ever taken the 5 Love Languages quiz? It’ll probably help you figure that all out.

How to fix it:

Once you’re able to pinpoint the ways that both you and your partner give and receive love, you’ll be able to recognize the various ways your partner is showing you affection on a daily basis. Remember to keep in the back of your head as well that things on social are not always what they seem. The couple constantly posting about each other, might be fighting constantly – we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Social media is a highlight reel, and it tricks us into thinking it’s reality.

On Success:

I’m going to preface this by saying that success is relative. You have to define what that means for yourself. If you’re going to measure it by a number – a follower count, a number of likes a post got, a net worth, a salary, a number on a scale… try and catch yourself. Comparison is a slippery slope, and it’s easy to turn your attention to what other people have, what they’re doing, how many houses they have, how many kids they have… and just because they might have something different, it doesn’t mean that yours isn’t any less! Just different.

How to fix it:

Try a gratitude journal. Jot down one thing each morning that you’re grateful for and try to do that for a month. The first few days will be super easy, but after day 15, you’ll start to notice all of the little things really do make up the big things.

If journaling isn’t your thing, try to stop yourself from thinking so negatively when it comes to comparing your success to someone else’s. Remind yourself of your wins, whether it’s graduating and earning your degree when you weren’t so sure you’d make it or remembering that you simply have a roof over your head when many in this world do not. Remember all of the late nights that took you to get to where you are today, and how it’s paid off. Remember when you didn’t think you’d ever be able to pass your finance class, and now you’ve got a great job and great friends? Or maybe five years ago you never would have thought you’d be able to use excel functions, and now you’ve got every shortcut memorized and you’re an excel wizard. Keep your wins in mind. They matter.

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