How to Change your Comparison Strategy to Feel Better About Yourself (and grow!)

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Guess what?  It’s human nature to compare yourself to others.

Yep...I said it:  It’s normal to look to other people as a means to evaluate yourself.

I’m not going to tell you to stop doing this, either, because you can’t.  And you shouldn’t.

Looking at others and comparing yourself to them is a necessary component of self-awareness.  Self-awareness plays a significant role in emotional intelligence.

In other words, you have to be aware of others in order to be mindful of yourself.

But, there are two sides to comparison - a shadow side and a light side.  One feeds your insecurities and keeps you in a perpetual state of ‘not enough’; the other fuels you and provides the motivation and insight to grow, without feeling bad about yourself.

Understanding the difference and intentionally working to shift your strategy for comparing yourself to others is instrumental in shifting how you approach life and getting unstuck.

So, let’s explore the shadow and light sides of comparison.


The Shadow Side of Comparison:  Self-Comparison

The shadow side of comparison is self-comparison.

This is when you compare yourself to others as a means to determine how you feel about yourself.  

You either see the flaws or “failings” in others to boost your self-esteem, or you see someone else’s success as evidence of your perceived failings and feel bad about yourself.

Let’s look at an example…

Let’s say you decide to sign up for an MLM (multi-level marketing) company because you love the product and you want to make some extra cash.  

You’re a couple of months in, and sales are slow, but you’ve been attending a local meetup with others selling for the same MLM.  

When you’re in the shadow side of self-comparison, you see those that are more successful as a threat.  You feel jealous and think it’s not fair that they’re enjoying sales and the perks that come with that, while you struggle and receive nothing for your efforts.

You view their success and their tactics to grow their business as evidence of your own failings.

When you’re in the shadow side of comparison, you’re miserable, and there’s a limited path for personal growth because you aren’t able to see opportunity; you only see blocks.


The Light Side of Comparison:  Self-Evaluation

On the flip side, the light side of comparison is self-evaluation.

This is when you look to others as a means to self-improvement.  This form of comparison isn’t tied into your self-worth or self-esteem.

Self-evaluation is being inspired by others (that exhibit the skills your desire, or have the life experiences you crave) and improving your skills, or creating better life experiences as a result.  

It’s not copying; it’s observing, learning, and applying through your own lens.

When you’re using comparison as a means to self-evaluate, there isn’t a sense of feeling less-than, or that life is unfair.  It’s allowing your observation of others to expose new opportunities within yourself.

Let’s look at the previous example through a different lens.  When joining the local group and meeting others who are successfully working their business, instead of feeling threatened, you feel energized and inspired by them.

Because of this, you talk to them to find out how they’ve achieved their success, and instead of simply copying them, you explore how you can follow a similar path, but through what works for you.

As a result, you grow, you expand, and you feel good about yourself in the process.

Your self-worth and self-esteem are never impacted by what you observe in others.  They’re completely independent.

Final Thoughts

Since comparison is something everyone does, you can’t turn off that instinct.  But, what you can do is pay attention to how you compare yourself to others, the impact that has on you, and detach your sense of worth and self-esteem from that practice.

Instead, be curious about how they obtained their skills and explore those ideas within yourself to feed and grow your skills through methods that work best for you.

We’re all teachers and students, and embracing the role of student is what allows you to maximize your potential and get unstuck.