Stop engaging in daily comparisons and live freely

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Daily Comparisons with others is undoubtedly the most common thing we do these days.

We don’t say it but consciously or unconsciously all of us engage in daily comparisons with neighbors, colleagues, friends and even among close family members. Deep down we are all comparing ourselves with a next-door neighbor who cooks good food or some colleague who (we think) gets it all easy or a model on TV or a newspaper ad flaunting her beautiful skin.

It’s easy to say that these daily comparisons with random people or even with those we know is a result of immense content and info available to us on account of internet and social media. But, have you ever wondered the real reason why we engage in comparisons with others?

Why do we indulge in daily comparisons?

Studies suggest that social comparison is a fundamental psychological mechanism that affects human judgment, behavior, actions, and conduct.

According to Leon Festinger’s Original theory of Social Comparison (1954); people have an innate desire to know themselves. People feel the need to maintain a stable and accurate self-view and in order to do this; they collect information or feedback from others with respect to their characteristics and abilities.

A research paper Social Comparisons: Motives, Standards, and Mechanisms published in Theories in Social Psychologies suggests that social comparison is a process undertaken to fulfill fundamental needs such as self-evaluation, self-enhancement, and self-improvement. 

People engage in comparisons when they are uncertain about their own abilities, performance or characteristics and seek validation from others. That’s why we compare our characteristics, our behavior with others to know more about our own selves.

An example of this is back when I was a child and wanted to know if I am tall, what did I do?

Well, I compared my height with the tall guys in the class to know if I am tall. If my height matches with the tall guys, I would say that I am tall on this basis. As humans, we need to reaffirm our traits and hence we confirm this by comparing ourselves with others.

At times, you also find yourself comparing with someone who is worse than you in a certain ability as this makes you feel better about yourself and strengthens a positive image about yourself. This behavior (called downward comparison) satisfies the need referred to as self-enhancement.

However, there are times when you compare yourself with someone who is better than you. The motive behind this type of comparison is to improve your own skills. This is referred to as ‘upward’ comparisons and fulfills the need for self-improvement.

Therefore, people engage in social comparisons to reaffirm different aspects of themselves.

8 ways to stop yourself from making daily comparisons

Now, you know why we make comparisons and as humans, we can’t ever stop making comparisons. This is a part of our innate behavior and sometimes; even motivates us to become better. However, most of the times these comparisons can drive us crazy to the point where we stop believing in ourselves and our own abilities and potential.

These simple ways can help you gain more out of your lives and help you focus your energies on yourself rather than on others.

  • Set time slots 

Social media platforms certainly help us in many ways right from establishing connections with friends from all walks of life, sharing interests with like-minded people, promoting your business online and whatnot.

But, let’s face it. We check Facebook, Instagram to know more about other people’s lives and entertain ourselves in the process. Gradually, this becomes a habit and we end up making wasting our time and making meaningless comparisons.

I am not asking you to stop checking your social media feed. Rather, set time slots of half-hour or  1 hour at a fixed time daily just to scroll through your social media apps.

This will help you to focus on your current tasks better and restrain your mind from wandering elsewhere.

  •  Buy a daily or a weekly planner for yourself

Start using a productivity planner.

I prefer a daily one that I use to prioritize the tasks. It helps me focus on the tasks I plan for the rest of the day and oversee my weekly progress. This, in turn, keeps me motivated towards my goal. At the end of the day, I rate myself on a scale of 10 and share my learning.

I keep it on my bedside table and fill it in as soon as I get up in the morning and also before going to sleep. Keeping it on my table right in front of me in the mornings and at night helps me to keep up with the habit.

  • Choose who to be friends with

In our extremely busy lives; friends are like a breath of fresh air.

A true friend can enliven your spirit, boost your self-confidence and give you the courage to brace yourself for whatever may lie ahead. The number of friends you have does not matter but are they your real friends?

The question is do they care for you and have they or will they be standing for you whenever you need a shoulder to lean?

If you make friends who are negative, unsatisfied with their own lives, always blaming others for the lives they lead or the mistakes they have made; chances are high that you too will start complaining about your own life.

The point is that if you aren’t satisfied with your own life and blame others for your failures; you are more likely to spend your life making comparisons and being jealous of other people. Such comparisons are going to engulf whatever good is still hanging on to your life. 
  • Learn something new each year and share your experience

Make your life exciting and fulfilling.

Try to understand what excites you! Is it trekking in the mountains, rock climbing, bungee jumping, skydiving or taking salsa classes or just a long drive? Know yourself and your needs better. Make plans and do what you have always been stalling all this while.

While I understand there are a number of priorities that need to be taken care of, but you should not forget that all of this is gonna stay. If you keep putting things off every year in the hope of a good time; you might no longer have the energy or the desire to do things later.

  • Pick the good stuff, leave the rest

Well, communication is our basic need. So as long as we are going to talk, we are going to make comparisons of some sort.

Remind yourself that you cannot be good at everything. You need to let go off endless comparisons and focus on the unique strengths that differentiate you from others. There is no one who is good at everything. We all have good and bad times that come and go around all the time.

Pick only the traits that you are genuinely interested in improving yourself. That will motivate you to learn something good.

  • Make some time for discussions with your partner

Life goals are important and more so when you have someone to share your life with. Two individuals in a relationship can have different expectations on the kind of life they wish to lead.

Occasionally, making time for discussions on the way forward and how would you like to make things happen whether its a house you wish to buy or relocating to a better and a new place or the next international travel destination. Just plan it well ahead and with mutual consent. This really helps as it makes you more fulfilled out of your relationship as a whole, makes you both more self-aware and take necessary effort towards realizing your goals instead of sitting around doing nothing and being jealous of other people.

  • Call up your friends or better invite them over dinner

Being happy in your own life can make you way less susceptible to what’s going around or what’s new with other people. And what better way to release stress from your daily life than meeting your old and best friends. Meeting friends brings back beautiful memories and smile onto our faces. So, what are waiting for?

Once in a while call up your friends or take a day off to spend time with your closest friends.

  • Be Thankful and Practice more Gratitude

Lastly, be thankful for the blessings God has showered upon us whether it’s the prosperous country you live in that safeguards its citizens or the pure air you breathe or a family that you are a part of or a loved one standing beside you at all times.

Often,  we are tangled in our own problems in such a way that we overlook the good things lying right in front of us.  Well, tough times will always be a part of our lives and as a matter of fact with all of us, but the future is unseen and uncontrollable.

Let’s not forget the good things still a part of our lives have made our pain more bearable and our path less painful.

Thank you so much for reading all the way through!

Please feel free to share your feedback, opinion or comments. Do let me know what practices you follow to overcome comparisons in your daily lives.

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