There isn’t much respite from the Internet and social networks. That atmosphere that keeps telling you to eat more or less like this, to work better or differently, to have goals, to become someone, to fulfil yourself … You end up spending your life scrutinising others.
Why do we compare ourselves to others?
We constantly feel the need to compare ourselves, it is human nature. But why? Simply because “it is our way of understanding and apprehending the world,” explains Cécile Pichon, HR and occupational psychologist. “Analysing your environment means creating a standard and comparing everything new with everything that has already been observed.” Comparing ourselves is about positioning things and it enables us to structure our thinking. Fighting it would therefore almost be like trying to stop thinking. And those who manage that don’t inspire envy.
Although comparing yourself is above all a natural thing, there are some conditions. It can be a good thing and can be a source of motivation and self-improvement, but you should still take care. Because comparing yourself to others means taking the risk of locking yourself into a rigid or negative pattern. A pattern that can lack subtlety, and that can lead us to draw conclusions that isolate us, that are often not very positive, and that are bad for our self-esteem. That is not the aim of the game.
So, comparing yourself to others, “yes”, but under certain conditions. All you have to do is add a minimum of objectivity. And there’s the rub!
Seven tips to compare yourself in a useful way:
- How do you see yourself? Becoming aware of how you see yourself is the first step in changing your perception. Otherwise you may not realise that there is a problem. It is not easy to change, but by understanding how you perceive yourself, it becomes easier, because you can, for example, set achievable goals in order to change one aspect of your behaviour.
- Try to remember how this all started. You need to find the “trigger” moment for this bad habit. You weren’t born that way. Just look at children, they don’t compare themselves to one another. So, you have become this way. Why? How? When? It is up to you to find the answers to these questions. For example, you may remember your childhood before you compared yourself to a brother or sister. This habit of comparing yourself may have started because of a feeling of rejection and you can now analyse where this behaviour started. The most difficult thing is to accept the negative impact this has on you. And by thinking about how your mood is affected, you may be more likely to change.
- Value your differences: There are different ways to get to the same point. You shouldn’t worry about your differences, quite the contrary, you should embrace them. It is those differences that will encourage you to think and allow you to move forward.
- Dare to ask for advice: envy is the downside of a good reflex: analysing other people. To be envious simply means lacking the courage to be inspired by others, it means you are jealous of their success or actions, rather than creating the same ecosystem of success for yourself. If you like something about a colleague, take a good look at how they do it, or better still, ask them for advice and do everything you can to improve.
- Get to know yourself. Ask yourself the right questions and get to know yourself. Then, do as best suits you, your personal aspirations and not what other people think you should do. What applies to your neighbour does not necessarily apply to you
- Act rather than compare: the comparison must be the first step in your “strategy”. Based on comparison and observation, you know what you have to do. So, do it.
- Learn to take a step back: Every day, take the time to ask yourself questions about the things that have made you happy, or that have given you a sense of satisfaction. There are two advantages to this: you will see that you too are entitled to your daily dose of happiness, and reminding yourself of this makes you more sensitive to it, and learning to know yourself and creating the conditions for your own happiness more easily. If you want something done, do it yourself…Taking a step back also means knowing how to distance oneself from sources of anxiety, and leading the way here are Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and all the rest. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. These networks are what you want them to be. Nevertheless, this display of permanent perfection can, in the long run, give you the feeling of your own existence being mediocre. Scandinavian interiors are certainly very Instagrammable, but your messy home may be what you really like. The vegan/freelance/healthy/fitness lifestyle has shown incredible plasticity, but is it the life you really dream of?