5 Reasons Why You Compare Yourself to Others (and How to Stop)

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‘Why do I always compare myself to others, and how can I stop?’ If you caught yourself engaging in comparison and are asking yourself these questions, this post is for you! We will discuss the reasons why you compare yourself with others and provide tips to help you learn how to stop comparing yourself to others.

Let’s be honest; we have ALL compared ourselves to others at some point. In recent years, it is even more unavoidable due to the prevalence of social media, as well as the willingness of people to share details about their private lives and achievements, making all the information one needs to engage in social comparison easily accessible.

We compare ourselves to others by evaluating what we have against what they have in the different areas of life, such as; physical appearance, wealth, relationships, health, careers, intelligence, and performance.

Continue reading this article to find out some of the reasons why you compare yourself to others, whether it is good or bad to do so, and how to stop engaging in comparison.

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The 2 Types of Social Comparison

Before we discuss the reasons why you compare yourself to others, let’s see the two types of social comparison one may engage in.

Knowing the different types of comparison will help you identify which way you are comparing yourself with others and whether what you are doing is good or bad for you.

The two types of social comparison are;

  • Upward comparison

Upward social comparison is when you compare yourself with someone who you believe is better than you in some way. It is the type of social comparison many people engage in with their role models, celebrities, or peers who are more beautiful, have more money, are in well-paying jobs, or in better relationships.

This type of social comparison can be good if you are engaging in it for inspiration and motivation to improve your own life. However, upward comparison could be bad if seeing how others seem to be doing better than you makes you feel inadequate, envious, and dissatisfied with your life.

READ ALSO: 6 Ways to Develop an Abundance Mentality and Get Rid of Scarcity Mindset

  • Downward comparison

Have you ever compared yourself with someone doing worse than you? That is an example of downward social comparison, and people do it for various reasons, mainly to feel better about themselves.

Some ways you can engage in downward social comparison include comparing yourself with a poorly performing fellow student or employee, an unemployed individual when you are in a good job, or with people who are sick, less wealthy, less educated, or less skilled.

Is Comparing Yourself with Others Good or Bad?

Depending on the type of social comparison you engage in and the reasons why you are comparing yourself to others, comparison can be a positive or negative thing.

If you are asking yourself the question, ‘is it bad to compare yourself with others or not?’, let us see the benefits and disadvantages of comparison.

5 reasons why comparing yourself to others is good

  1. It is a source of motivation and inspiration
  2. Comparison helps you evaluate yourself and stay on track
  3. It boosts your confidence
  4. It can help you identify the areas of your life that need positive changes
  5. Comparing yourself with others can make you become more grateful for what you have

READ ALSO: 17 Ways to Get Your Life Together (and Why You Need to)

10 reasons why it is bad to compare yourself to others

  1. It leads to life dissatisfaction
  2. Comparing yourself to others can make you envious and jealous
  3. It results in feelings of inadequacy and failure
  4. It lowers the morale to keep working hard if others are doing worse
  5. Comparison makes you unhappy and attracts negative energy or thoughts
  6. It is a waste of your valuable time
  7. Comparing yourself to other people ruins your relationship with yourself and others
  8. It makes you set unrealistic expectations for yourself
  9. It could lead to bad decisions such as changing aspects of your body, wasting money, and sacrificing your morality
  10. Downward comparison could make you arrogant and egotistical

Comparing yourself to others has more disadvantages than benefits. As such, one should be careful when engaging in comparison as it can become a form of self-sabotage.

Since you may be wondering why people compare themselves to others when it is such a bad thing, read on to know the causes of comparison, so you can stop engaging in it.

READ ALSO: 14 Best Things to Do When Your Life Sucks (Why It Happens)

5 Reasons Why You Compare Yourself to Others

  1. You want to evaluate yourself

How can you know if what you are doing is good if you don’t know how others are doing (or have done) in the same aspects? You need a point of reference of what is considered the norm or standard to evaluate yourself.

Self-evaluation is one of the most common reasons why people compare themselves to others. One may engage in comparison to know whether they are on the right track to achieve their goals; if they fit in a particular group; if they have enough, and if they need to do anything more to improve on the areas that may be lacking.

Comparing yourself to others because you want to evaluate yourself can happen when it comes to performance at work, physical appearance, and the milestones you have achieved so far. You can do this type of comparison against your colleagues, age mates, or other peers, people you think are on the same level or journey as you.

Though self-evaluation is a good reason to compare yourself with others, it can also be bad because it could make you feel jealous, inferior, or inadequate if your age mates and peers are doing much better than you.

You may burn yourself out trying to reach the same levels as someone else, not realizing that everyone is in their own time zone. Go at your own pace.

READ ALSO: 8 Ways to Be Less Judgmental of Yourself and Others

  1. You need an ego boost

If you are doing well in life, you may feel tempted to check how others are doing. And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to know how someone else is faring, the reason why you are comparing yourself to others could be that you need an ego boost. You want to see how much better you are compared to your peers.

For example, someone with a ‘perfect’ body may look up and compare themselves with people who have features that are considered ‘imperfections’ just to feel good about themselves.

Also, after a big achievement such as a new house, an award, a new job, or good grades, you could compare yourself with people who don’t have these things to get an ego boost.

You may also engage in this type of social comparison when you are not doing well in life. If you are facing challenges in your life, you could compare yourself to others who are doing worse than you because you want to feel better about yourself.

  1. For inspiration and motivation

Social comparison is not always bad. Comparing yourself with people doing better than you can be good because it will inspire you and motivate you to work on your goals. 

The need for inspiration and motivation are some of the best reasons why people compare themselves to others. Seeing someone who used to be on the same level as you having a good life will make you believe that it is possible for you to get there as well.

The steps they took on their success journey can be a source of inspiration, and their achievements can motivate you to take the necessary actions to turn your life around and achieve your goals. After all, if they did it, why can’t you?

Wanting to get ideas and encouragement to keep improving yourself are good reasons to compare yourself to others. However, be careful not to desire negative things or do the wrong things while trying to achieve the same kind of success as someone else.

READ ALSO: 50 Best Inspirational Quotes About Life and Struggles to Motivate You

  1. You are seeking validation

Having insecurities, feeling inferior in some way, or being unsure about how you measure up in a particular aspect can make you want to seek validation from others, which could be the reason why you compare yourself to others.

You want reassurance about the areas you are comparing yourself to others in order to determine whether you are good enough or have enough. For example, if you grew up poor and have gained some wealth, you could compare yourself with others to validate that you really are rich now.

You could also compare yourself to others at work to be sure about your performance. You know that you did everything right; but without reassurance from how your colleagues are doing the same things, you can’t be confident about your work.

This type of comparison can also happen among siblings with strict parents or those who grew up being compared to each other when it came to performance, looks, or anything else. Even as adults, they may always compare themselves to their siblings to know if their parents would approve and be proud of them.

It is bad to compare yourself to others because you are seeking validation. If you want to learn how to stop comparing yourself with others all the time, build self-confidence, trust your judgment, and determine your own definition of success or beauty without needing anyone else’s reassurance or approval.

READ ALSO: 10 Reasons Why You Worry about What Others Think So Much (and How to Stop)

  1. You want to define yourself

Perhaps you aren’t sure how to describe yourself. For instance, you probably don’t know where you are classified when it comes to wealth, looks, morals, or intelligence. The reason why you compare yourself to others could be that you want to define yourself.

You may engage in comparison because you want to know the characteristics and behaviors that determine who you are based on how others with similar, better, or worse attributes are described. For example, whether you are tall, beautiful, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous, kind, outgoing, trustworthy, efficient, well-behaved, or not.

By comparing yourself with others, you can define who you are and put a label on yourself.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

  1. Reduce time spent on social media
  2. Unfollow, unfriend, or block social media accounts that trigger your comparison tendency
  3. Keep your personal life private and avoid intruding into other people’s lives
  4. Practice gratitude for all the good things you have and the bad you don’t
  5. Celebrate all your wins, small and big ones
  6. Work on yourself, your self-esteem, and your self-worth
  7. Set YOUR priorities straight and focus on YOUR growth
  8. Do things that make you happy
  9. Practice affirmations and positive self-talk to reframe your thoughts
  10. Remind yourself that social media often doesn’t reflect reality

READ ALSO: 7 Reasons Why You Should Not Attach Your Happiness to People and Things

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Compare Yourself to Others

Besides comparison being bad, there are other reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, including;

  1. You are unique and enough just the way you are
  2. Avoid comparing yourself to others in order to protect your mental health
  3. You are on your own journey. So go at your own pace.
  4. To feel happier and more fulfilled
  5. You may not know the whole/real story of the other person
  6. To build better relationships with others and yourself
  7. It is unfair to compare yourself to others

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many reasons why people compare themselves to others. And though there are benefits to doing this, in most cases, comparison is the thief of joy.

Always comparing yourself with others has many cons, including that it is a waste of time, it drains your energy, demoralizes you, makes you develop negative feelings toward yourself and others, and leads to life dissatisfaction.

It is time you accept the hard truth that no matter how good you think you are, there will always be someone doing better than you in some aspect.

Learning how to stop comparing yourself to others is crucial as it can make you develop a better relationship with yourself and others, promote your personal growth, and result in a happier, more fulfilling life.

However, before you stop social comparison, the first step will be to identify the reasons why you compare yourself to others. Conduct self-reflection and increase your self-awareness in order to catch yourself when doing it and determine the triggers that make you always compare yourself with others so you can get rid of them.

You will be a much happier person when you stop social comparison and all the competition with others.

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