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When You Focus on What You Do, You’re Too Busy to Compare Yourself with Others

When You Focus on What You Do, You’re Too Busy to Compare Yourself with Others

With social media announcing every friend’s promotion, latest holiday, house purchase, engagement or wedding, it can sometimes lead us to feel inadequate about our own lives especially if we feel we’re ‘falling behind’ in life.

But the comparison game is a dangerous one. The pressure to keep up with how other people are living their lives compared to our own, can leave us feeling depressed and takes away the focus we have on our goals and our own unique life path.

Why Comparing Ourselves with Others Is Problematic

If comparing and measuring ourselves with others brings the tendency to make us feel ‘less-than’, why do we put ourselves through it?

According to the social comparison theory [1] fundamentally, we’re social creatures and we have an overwhelming need to understand ourselves and our place in the world. This includes those around us and especially our closest peers.

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Social comparisons are separated into two categories – downward comparison (comparing yourself to somebody worse off than you) and upward comparison (comparing yourself with those who are perceived as better off than you). These two can both create problems with how we view ourselves.

While downward comparison may seem like a way to make us feel better about ourselves, it actually means we’re tying our confidence and self-esteem to the misfortune of others. It also causes us to focus too much on negative aspects of people rather than seeing the whole picture.

And, of course, upward comparison can allow us to feel motivated and inspired but our negative minds tend to sway towards fuelling envy or unrealistic standards. This means we overlook the complexity of our own lives and focus on the ‘highlight reel’ of somebody else’s.

Most of the Time People Don’t Really Care, They’re Just Curious

The other problem with comparison is that, although we may not have the habit of comparing ourselves, others can have the tendency to point out how we’re doing compared with others.

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Whether it’s making the choice to not get married or have kids, or what career path we’ve chosen to follow (or not follow), there will likely be someone who has an opposing opinion and perspective on it. This can potentially lead us to self-doubt and even contemplating changing our decisions.

But we have to understand the importance of focusing on ourselves because others’ perspectives are limited and based on their own opinions and experiences. Much of the time it can be pure curiosity rather than having true intentions to guide us. This is why it’s paramount to tune out these unneeded opinions and just focus on what you want your life to look like.

How to Block Out Distracting Noise and Focus on Yourself

If scrolling through social media leaves you feeling down, insecure, and inadequate or you just want to stop caring about the ‘helpful’ opinions others like to force on you about your life, then there are ways to shift your perspective and lead a much happier life in the process.

Create a Clear Roadmap of Your Life

In order to be more confident in your decisions and therefore be strong enough to dismiss what others say, creating a roadmap of where you want go and how you’re going to get there, will bring more stability and less insecurity. By doing this, you will care much less about what other people are doing in comparison, or what they think about you.

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Create a list of goals, note where you are now in relation to them (with no negative judgement) and write out an action plan for how you can achieve them. You can make a one week plan or a one year plan – whatever you feel comfortable with on any subject – and you’ll start to feel a sense of moving forward.

Do Some ‘All-Round’ Self-Improvement

Self-improvement is a wonderful way to focus on ourselves but often we tend to self-improve when the chips are down in certain areas of our lives. For example, if we want to improve our health, we may start to eat better and exercise more.

However, it can lead us to ignore other areas such as work, learning or relationships. Focusing on more than one area will create a feeling that we’re establishing abundance overall which, in turn, will stop us from feeling lack and causing us to compare one area of our life to someone else’s.

Write out a list of how you can improve each area of your life – perhaps learning something new for a dream job, an exercise routine to get healthy or improving your social skills in order to make new friends. Do a little bit at a time for each area and you’ll soon grow more and more confidence in yourself and where your life is heading.

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Remember That Everything Takes Time

We’re often made to think that certain life goals must happen by a certain time but it doesn’t always work out that way (this is when the comparison game can be at its strongest!) Try not to focus on specific time-frames and understand that you’re always on your path to where you want to go.

People go along their own path at different speeds and that’s okay. Make peace with where you are, find all you can to appreciate your life no matter how small your successes, and believe that you will achieve your goals and dreams in your own timing – timing that’s best for you and no one else.

Reference

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on December 17, 2018

Read this and stop feeling overwhelmed…for good!

Read this and stop feeling overwhelmed…for good!

We live in a time of productivity overload.

Everywhere you turn are articles and books about how to be more productive, how to squeeze 27 hours of work out of every 24, how to double your work pace, how to do more and more all in the name of someday getting out of the rat race. Well this is about the side effects of those ideas. If we aren’t multitasking, we feel lazy. If we aren’t doing everything, we feel like we’re slacking. We compare ourselves to others who we think are doing more, having more, getting more and achieving more, and it’s driving us crazy. We feel overwhelmed when we think we have too much to do, too much is expected of us, or that a stressor is too much for us to handle. And we respond by lashing out with emotions of anger, irritability, anxiety, doubt and helplessness.

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This season especially is the most stressful time of year. Between the holidays, final exams, family gatherings and general feelings of guilt that it’s the end of the year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking of all the things you still need to get done. But if you use these tips, not only will you get the important stuff done, you’ll keep your sanity while doing it!

    Is this you?

    Change your thought pattern-stop thinking negatively

    When you feel overwhelmed, the first thing you do is start thinking negatively or begin to resent why it’s your responsibility in the first place! The first thing you have to do is to stop! Stop thinking negatively immediately. Instead, focus on the positive. If you’re stuck in traffic, think of how great it is to have some time to yourself. If you’re rushing trying to get things done by a deadline, think how lucky you are to have a purpose and to be working towards it. If you’re stressing about a final exam, think of how fortunate you are to be given the opportunity of higher education. After you’ve changed your thought patterns, you must then say to yourself “I can do this.” Keep saying it until you believe it and you’re more than halfway to ending feeling overwhelmed.

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    Take a deep breath/change your body posture

    When you’re stressed certain things happen to your body. You start to breath shallowly, you hunch over, you immediately tense up and all that tension drives your feelings of stress even more. Relax! Straighten your posture and take at least ten deep, cleansing, breaths. Force yourself to smile and do something to change your state. It could be as simple as giving yourself a hug or as silly as clapping your hands three times, throwing them up in the air and shouting “I GOT THIS!” Think to yourself, how would I sit/stand if I had perfect confidence and control of the situation?

    Focus on right now

    Now that you are in a better state of mind and are no longer thinking negatively, you need to focus on the here and now. Ask yourself this question: What is the most important thing I have control of and can act on right now? Keep asking yourself this until you have a concrete next step.

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    Take Action

    Now that you know what’s most important and what to do about it, do it! Start with the first step and focus on getting that done. Don’t worry about anything else right now, just on what your first step is and how to get it done. Once that’s done with, determine the next most important step and get that done.

    Let go of what you can’t control (the gambler’s theory)

    Seasoned gamblers understand the importance of due diligence and knowing when to let go. The Gambler’s Theory is that once your bet is placed there is nothing you can do, so you might as well relax and enjoy the process. The time to worry is when you’re figuring out the best odds and making the decision of what to bet when you can actually take action. I used this one a lot in college. After an exam, there is absolutely no point in stressing about it. There’s nothing you can do. And the same goes for feeling overwhelmed. If you can do something about your situation, do it, focus and take action. But if you’ve done what you could and now are just waiting, or if you’re worried about something you have no control over, realize that there’s no point. You might as well relax and enjoy the moment.

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    yoga-422196_1280
      Relax and enjoy the moment

      Stop feeling guilty

      Finally, stop comparing yourself to others. If you are at your wits end trying to keep up with what you think you should be doing, you aren’t being fair to yourself. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive for improvement, just don’t go overboard because you feel like you have to. Only you know what’s really important to you, and your personal success journey so focus on what your top priorities are, not someone else’s.

      Everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes. The important thing is to realize it’s normal and that you can do something about it by taking focused and deliberate action. Happy Holidays!

      Featured photo credit: Stress Therapy via flickr.com

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