Have you ever heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”? It is a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, and I use it quite often. Why? Because it is absolutely, undeniably and completely true. I speak from experience.
For the longest time I found myself drowned out by a sea of voices. These voices were telling me what to be, how to be, who to be, who to sound like, who to look like, who to think like… I was constantly comparing myself to other bloggers who I thought were more successful than me, other women who were prettier than me, moms who were better at keeping their shit together… and I found myself lacking, every single day. The biggest mistake I ever made was to listen to these voices, and as a result I lost myself.
When I first heard that quote, it took a while to sink in. I started thinking about it more and more and I started noticing how comparison made me feel and act on a daily basis. Whenever I’d see how the kids wanted their dad and not me for specific things, whenever I see someone more physically fit than I am, whenever I read an amazing blog post by someone who makes it seem so easy to be a great writer. It is easy for me to compare myself to them, and it just makes me feel less adequate if I dwell on it for long.
I spent so much time and money buying stuff I don’t need and going places I don’t actually like because someone else made it look so damn good. It happens. I like to think of myself as a pretty strong person, someone who does not fit the mold and thrives on it…. but even I got swept away with it. When I started running my blog the way I perceived others think I should in order to be their version of successful… things started falling apart. When I started to be the kind of parent I saw on my Instagram feed, I burnt out. When I spent thousands of rands on birthday parties to impress other moms, I stressed myself out.
I love social media I do. I love that at any time in the day or at any time in the night, there is something new to read, something new to watch and always someone to talk to. There’s always a funny video to watch, like, comment on and share. There’s always a blog post to inspire you, to resonate with you and to make you shed a tear. There’s always a picture to like and to leave a comment on. There are always pictures to inspire you and to make you smile and always pictures from friends and family who you maybe haven’t seen in a while.
At any time of day or night, social media is always alive, it’s always buzzing, it’s never closed and these days we have such instant access to it which means we never really feel totally alone. It can be such a comforting feeling.
But over the years I’ve become aware that as comforting as it can be, social media can be just as un-comforting too. A social media that never switches off can, if you let it, be overwhelming at times and it can also be so incredibly easy to let inspiration turn into comparison and then allow comparison to turn into self-doubt.
Comparing yourself to others, especially from what you see on social media, creates a completely unrealistic expectations of success. Recognize and realize that as soon as you start focusing on what someone else is doing, you are taking your focus off of your own path. You are taking all of your power to create a life that is meaningful, abundant and successful and putting it on someone else.
When you lose that focus and use it to compare yourself to others, you give away all of your power. You have no power over their path, only your own. When you pull your focus back to your own path and focus on your own gifts and strengths you can implement them in a way that makes an impact on the world – your world. That is when you will begin to experience abundance and happiness in your own life. When I stopped caring about how other people ran their blogs, posted their content or went about blogging in general – my readership more than tripled. My writing got better, I enjoyed myself more and amazing opportunities came knocking. When I stopped comparing myself to other women on the beach, faced my fears and put on a swimsuit so that I could go swim and play with my kids – I ended up having the best day of my life!
Stop comparing yourself to other people. There is no point, no benefit and nothing good can come of it… it is toxic as shit. We compare ourselves to other people and focus solely on their positive qualities, completely ignoring or dismissing all the negative or unappealing characteristics. Why do we do this? While you are focusing on one part of a person’s life, you are dismissing all of these other things that you do not want in your life. We are comparing ourselves to all these people without having the full story, without any information. We just see the results and we think that is it?
If someone has something that you want that badly, find the means to attain it. Unless it is their husband, child or wife… and if it is you should probably go see a psychologist. Unless you want Jason Mamoa, then it is perfectly normal and nothing is going to cure that. Look at people as a source of competition and inspiration, let them push you to be a better you…. but there is a fine line between comparing yourself to others in a negative way and looking at other people as inspiration to reach your own goals. Always ask yourself the question – Is it true to you? Is the choice you are making reflecting your own goals, strengths and needs?
Never lose sight of your own gifts and talents.
THERE IS NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD LIKE YOU. You are an individual, you are one of a kind. Overcoming comparison has been the most liberating feeling ever… so do it with me. Stop comparing and just be.
What do you compare yourself with others most on? Why do you do it, and how are you planning on stopping?