Back somewhere in the mid-2000′s, I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. The dress that we collectively chose was rather nice– it was midnight blue and sleeveless and came with a rather lovely wrap.
(This was long before I had embraced the beauty of sleevelessness, but I digress.) The bride had hired a makeup artist and hair stylist to work on all of the bridesmaids, and so with a combo of a really pretty dress and wonderful hair and makeup, I was feeling pretty good about myself.
That is, until, I saw all the other bridesmaids (who were all much thinner than me), and I found myself pulled into the deep vortex of comparing myself to them.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel so good about how I looked. To my eyes, the dress fit all of them better and looked better on all of them. Weddings are really kind of a performance, and I felt like me, standing in a long line among these women, would be the focus of negative attention.
Maybe you’ve done this kind of thing before too, but I found myself trying to find items of comparison where I could win out. Basically, I would think, well, that one has no cleavage or that one’s hair looks messed up.
Which, as you can imagine, didn’t really help me feel better.
Why Comparing Yourself To Others Is Always A Bad Idea, And Not For The Reasons You Think
Take a moment to think of a time when you compared yourself to another person where you were the one on the losing side.
Maybe you were at a meeting for work, or a party, or just walking down the street. Maybe you were comparing yourself physically or maybe you were comparing intellects, speaking ability, whatever.
Think of that moment, and take a minute to notice how it feels in your body.
It doesn’t feel very good right?
Now, this may blow your mind. Take a moment now to think of a time where you compared yourself to someone else, and you came out on top. Take a moment to feel how that feels in your body.
Maybe it feels a little better, or maybe not at all.
That’s because viewing life as a competition, where you have to constantly be better at whatever — how you look, how you parent, how you write, whatever — doesn’t feel very good.
In essence, comparing yourself to others is always a losing game.
How To Stop Comparing And Start Enjoying Exactly What You’ve Got
Mindset Shift #1: Everything Is Apples And Oranges
Seriously, everything in life is apples and oranges. Or apples and radio stations and hula hoops and oranges.
Basically, we’re all made up of hundreds and thousands of qualities, talents, flaws, things we’re good at, things we’re bad at, bad hair days, problems, physical ailments, etc.
And most of those are things go unseen all the time. Just like you wouldn’t want someone to make assumptions about you, it’s time to stop making assumptions about others.
In reality, you really can’t compare yourself to anyone properly because you’ll never know the totality of their experience.
Mindset Shift #2: It’s Time To Give Up The Scarcity Model
The real reason that you find it necessary to compare yourself to others is that you’ve fallen under the spell that says that good things are always scarce.
The scarcity model says that if the person that you’re comparing yourself to is (arguably) prettier than you, then that person has grabbed up too much of that thing called pretty and now there’s less for you.
Same thing goes for fame or money or talent or intellect — the belief that those things are scarce makes us compare ourselves to others in terms of how much of those things we have versus what they have.
When we lose this comparison battle, we feel bad, jealous, envious, and less than whole. When we win the comparison battle, we feel a bit of satisfaction mixed with an underlying fear that we may have won this battle, but what if things change and we lose out next time?
The key is to reconnect with your sense of abundance. For example, if you feel like everyone is more beautiful than you, start to look for beauty everywhere, particularly in people whom you might not normally think of as beautiful.
You may find it easier to then see that beauty in yourself.
Action Step: Send Love And Move On
So how do you really stop yourself from comparing yourself to others? Here’s an action step that you can take.
When you notice yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop yourself, and take a moment to just send them and yourself love.
Just send them love and send yourself some love and move on.
This technique does three important things. First, it stops you from comparing yourself and puts your attention on something else.
Second, it acknowledges an important truth, that we are all one and we all need love.
Third, it gives you what you really need, a sense that you are loved and you are okay, no matter how you compare to anyone else.
Golda Poretsky is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She’s a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, go to www.bodylovewellness.com. Follow her on Twitter at @bodylovewellnes.