5 Practical Tips on How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

5 Practical Tips on How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Strategies to avoid that our self-esteem is worn down by constant comparisons.

Comparisons can be hateful, but we can’t avoid them. It is an intrinsic aspect of human nature to compare ourselves with other people, both in the good and in the bad, especially in the bad.

Others always seem to have something we crave: a good car, a toned body, a better salary … If we only look at how good they have and compare it with what we seem to be lacking, we will not be very happy.


Knowing how to stop comparing yourself to others is something that we have surely asked ourselves a lot on more than one occasion. Obsessive comparisons are bad for our sanity, which is why we’re going to explain how to end them below. Stay to find out.


Why knowing how to stop comparing yourself to others is key

Comparing yourself to others is a common behavior. It is normal to do so since comparison is an essential element in people’s social life. The social psychologist Leon Festinger explained in 1954 how human beings create part of our identity by comparing ourselves with others, evaluating our abilities, appearance, opinions, and even social position when comparing ourselves with others. We resort to this strategy when we cannot evaluate our characteristics objectively ourselves.


Festinger spoke of two types of comparison: on the one hand, we would have the upward comparison, when we compare ourselves with another person who we consider superior or graceful in some aspect that is significant to us; the other is the downward comparison when we do it with someone who we consider inferior or who lacks something that we have. As a general rule, upward comparisons are a source of discomfort and frustration, while downward comparisons tend to bring well-being and satisfaction.


Despite being common, we should not think that excessive comparisons are healthy. Comparing yourself to others can often be very detrimental to our mental health, especially when you consider that we tend to make comparisons upwards rather than downwards. Even in people who have some kind of deficiency, it is more likely that we look at what we do not have and what they do than not vice versa.


Consequences of comparing yourself to others

As we mentioned, the upward comparison is a source of discomfort and, if it is done on a recurring and persistent basis, it will end up involving serious consequences on the mental health of those who carry it out. As the person is constantly comparing himself and believing that he is less than almost everyone else, his self-esteem and self-worth are progressively reduced.

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Among the main consequences of excessive comparison we have:

Lower self-esteem

As we have said, when comparing ourselves with others, our self-esteem weakens. The reason for this is that we stop focusing on ourselves and our abilities, causing us to always see them as inferior to those of others.

Although comparisons should motivate us to improve what we are scarce in, constant comparison can make us lose hope when we see that there will always be someone better at something than we are not so much.

It can go to the extreme of causing self-rejection for not possessing the qualities that other people have and are so desire.


Waste of time

Comparisons are automatic, but this does not mean that they do not waste time, quite the contrary. When one falls into one of them, he can be turning it over and over again, delving into its “defects”, which are always very subjective. It may be the case that those same defects are also looked for in others, with the hope that other people have the same problem or, even, are worse.

Be it up or down, the comparison is going to waste time. A time that we could invest in improving the desired quality or, directly, take advantage of it to have a more pleasant life.

It harms our social life

Comparing ourselves to others often makes us feel self-conscious in the presence of other people we perceive as better, more skilled, attractive, or better gifted.

It can also happen that, when trying to make friends with them or when they already are, we cannot avoid constantly thinking about everything they have and everything we lack, overwhelming ourselves and feeling unhealthy envy towards them. Friendship can turn into a kind of competition or a relationship of excessive pride and toxic dynamics.

5 Practical Tips on How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others


Lower your mood

Who constantly compares himself is not happy. You cannot see how much you have and how little you need. You don’t see the many good things that make up your personality and you obsessively focus on the bad things you think you have.

Comparisons turn off our joy, they cause us discomfort and dissatisfaction. Feeling less than others and making our worth depend on what we see in others ruins our well-being.

Tips to let yourself compare with other people

As we have commented, comparisons are a normal aspect of the human condition, something that occurs in our interaction with other people. However, that it is something humans do does not mean that we should do it frequently, as we have already commented. Comparisons can do us a lot of damage, which is why we must know how to keep them at bay, something that we can achieve if we apply the following tips in our lives.

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#1.Recognize that we compare ourselves to others

The first thing is to recognize that we compare ourselves with others. This sounds simple, but it is more complicated than it seems because, when comparisons have become a very common habit, something we do almost every day, it is difficult to realize it. It has become a daily dynamic, something we don’t stop to think about like when we walk or breathe.


To recognize this, we must be attentive and identify certain indicators such as dissatisfaction with ourselves, wanting to have skills and other positive characteristics that we see in others, seeing how we behave competitively with other people, or feeling envy every day for a friend, colleague or social media person.


It is essential to identify in which contexts we feel this way, with which people, with what specific trait or aspect, and, very importantly, what emotions it produces in us. A highly recommended tip would be to write it down in a journal or on a sheet, analyze the entire comparison, and delve into its guts. Once we are aware of the problem, it will be easier to work on its solution.

5 Practical Tips on How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others


#2. Identify what we want to change

Once we have understood how much we compare ourselves with others, it is time to reflect on who we are and all that we have achieved. As we have seen before, we sure have very good things. Nobody is perfect, naturally, we are going to have some defects, but we are not a complete disaster either.


There is always some skill, some trait that puts us above the rest. By comparing ourselves to others, we become aware of these apparent flaws, so it’s time to look at strengths. It is complicated, as the human mind seems as if it is designed to constantly apply the bias of negativity, but fortunately and with a little effort we can free ourselves from its tyranny.


Identifying what we want to change will help us to put the means to improve it, instead of spending energy identifying what it is that others have that we do not have. Added to this, knowing what we are good at will motivate us to understand that in the same way that we have achieved certain things, with more or less effort, we can achieve many others.


#3. Do not idolize others

It is one thing to admire someone and quite another to idolize him, glorify him in absolutely everything. It is not bad to want to look like someone we consider a role model, either because of who he is or because of how much he has achieved, but without going overboard. We must understand that the many things that he has represented only the desirable part of that person, since he will also have his defects and, perhaps, complexes. That person has weaknesses, just like you and anyone else.

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#4.Less use of social networks

Social media does not represent the real world. In this virtual space, people only show their best side, giving a false impression that they have no difficulties or defects. If we expose ourselves too much to them, we will be prone to compare ourselves and we will have the feeling that everyone is better than us.


Behind all the photos of apparent success and positive experiences that we see on virtual platforms, there is a normal life, on the heap. Travel photos, expensive clothes, toned bodies … all of this is something that those who publish them have decided they want to show others. They do not show how many times they have stayed at home, what old clothes they still have, or how many times they have skipped the training day to stay home to watch TV.


These networks have the problem that they are so immense that, whatever we do, we will always find someone better at absolutely whatever we compare ourselves to. It is advisable to use social networks less or, directly, to remove the account of certain platforms that the only thing that they are going to do is increase our insecurities and frustrate us.


#5.Seek professional help

Whether you think you need it or not, the best of all advice is to seek professional help to assess the severity of this problem. After all, excessive comparisons cause psychological discomfort, something that should be addressed by a psychologist. Behind these comparisons are often problems of self-esteem, obsession with a canon of beauty, or relatively unattainable skills. The psychotherapy, a margin of just how frequent the comparisons will increase our welfare.


Bibliographic references

  • Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. pp. 117-140.
  • Gulas C, McKeage K. Extending Social Comparison: An Examination of the Unintended Consequences of Idealized Advertising Imagery. Journal of Advertising. 2013; 29(2): 17-28.
  • Gómez L. Social comparison and self-evaluation from an evolutionary approach. Writings of psychology [Internet]. 2005; 7: 2-14.
  • Dijkstra P, Gibbons F, Buunk A. Social comparison theory. In: J. E. Maddux, J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Social psychological foundations of clinical psychology. New York: The Guilford Press; 2010. 195–211.
  • Tesser, A.; Campbell, J. (1982). «Self-evaluation maintenance and the perception of friends and strangers.». Journal of Personality 50 (3): 261-279. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1982.tb00750
  • Vogel E, Rose J, Roberts L, Eckles K. Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. 2014; 3(4): 206- 222. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000047
  • Rodríguez M, Osca A, Peiró J. The effect produced by social comparison and its influence on burnout. Rev Psychosocial Psychology. 2006; 21 (63): 229-239.


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