by Karen Doniere
I have a confession to make and I’m not proud of it. In the past, I’ve been guilty of comparing my life, and my circumstances to someone else’s. Usually, only one of two things happen when we compare ourselves to others: either we’re inspired or we become envious. Wait a minute, what is envy? In an article published by Psychology Today, Dr. Mary Lamia states that our “envy is directed at others, wanting their qualities, success, or possessions.” Envy involves comparisons, contrasts, and differences. It’s the contrasts and differences that lead to feeling ashamed and unworthy because you have mentally classified yourself as lacking a quality or trait that someone else has.
It’s not hard to become envious when you see another woman who seems to have it all together, has exceeded everyone’s expectations and achieved a measure of success much faster than you. I think it’s normal to make comparisons at some point. Although it may be normal, is it a healthy practice? How do you feel afterward? Frustrated, envious, or maybe even hopeless? Is that envy-inspiring you to work harder and smarter, or is it making you sick?
Can I ask you something? Why do we even bother to compare ourselves to others when we know exactly what the end result is? We’ll be left feeling short, with an unfair, envious attitude toward someone who doesn’t deserve it. And, we’re wasting valuable time and energy reveling in someone else’s successes when we should be focused on taking better care of ourselves. Here are four reasons why you should stop comparing yourself to other women.
1). It’s Unhealthy
Anytime there’s internal conflict coupled with stressful feelings, or something happens that causes you to question your self-worth, something is wrong. There’s also an extra strain on your mind, body, and energy. Instead of allowing those envious feelings to overwhelm you, try this instead:
- acknowledge your feelings
- make a list of things you do really well, including your successes
- celebrate your talents and accomplishments
2). The Results are Sketchy
Ask yourself this question: what am I gaining by making this comparison when I’m left feeling depleted, exhausted, and frustrated? Rather than comparing your results to another woman’s, it may be equally satisfying to research her background to learn more about her journey. Then, decide what you would like to implement in your life. Comparing yourself to another is not worth the remaining self-defeating thoughts of inadequacy. Just stop it.
3). It’s Unfair
Comparing yourself to anyone other than yourself is unfair. You don’t know the challenges behind their success, their inner struggles, setbacks, and the time it took for them to reach their goals. Therefore, it’s unfair for you to so easily compare yourself to that person, and then immediately discredit your journey as a result. It’s also unfair to have an envious attitude toward someone over something as trivial as their achievements.
4) Comparison Is a Thief
Comparing yourself to someone successful isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re really searching for inspiration. But, comparison is a thief because it steals your confidence and your joy. In other words, it steals your greatness and replaces it with negative thoughts. Therefore, whenever you catch yourself comparing your journey to someone else’s, be careful. Just stop it. You have to realize that you’re only responsible for you, and needlessly worrying about another person’s experiences is a big time waster. Instead, learn to celebrate your successes: both great and small.
It’s Time to Take Action:
How will you manage your comparisons and envious thoughts from this moment on? Here are two suggestions that will help you win every time.
Find a Mentor
Use the time that you would normally spend worrying about someone else’s life and accomplishments to find a mentor. Be clear and selective about what you’re looking for, and about whom you choose to mentor you. Selecting a mentor can boost your confidence and provide the additional support you may need to help you achieve your goals.
Ask questions such as these to help you with your decision:
- have you mentored anyone before
- how do you prefer to communicate: via email, phone, or chat
- how often would you like to check-in
Celebrate Your Achievements
To help you reject unfair comparisons and envious thoughts, start a gratitude jar. First, get multi-color construction paper, index cards or sticky notes. Then, write down everything you appreciate about yourself, including your achievements. Next, fold the paper in half and place it in the jar. Whenever you’re feeling envious, unaccomplished, or hopeless, read a note from your gratitude jar as a reminder of how great you are and how far you’ve ventured on your own journey. And, don’t forget to regularly replenish the jar.
Lamia, M. (2013). Jealousy and envy: the emotions of comparison and contrast. Psychology Today.