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What You Don’t Realize When You’re Comparing Yourself to Others

comparing yourself to others

A picture is worth a thousand words, so when you look at one you may think that you’ve got every possible story. But you could be way off the mark.

When you scroll through Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat you get a glimpse in the lives of others through an array of pictures and short videos.

You can see that the quiet girl from school just got married and how big her ring is.

You see that an old friend has announced to everyone that they just got a huge promotion and is now working their dream job.

You even see the videos of the deep blue ocean and sandy beach from a former colleague’s vacation.

Seems like everyone is living the good life, right? Well everyone but you, that is.

As you continue to scroll through these amazing pictures and videos, you can’t help but wonder why you’re not experiencing the same thing.

You’re so baffled by it all. You click through to their profile to see if there is more, more details about their epic life and its awesome adventures.

But they would never know you were there because you refuse to like or comment on a single thing. You can’t let them know, that you know how great things are going for them.

They’re just a bunch of show-offs anyway, right?! Ugh…

By this time you’re so frustrated and disappointed with your own life that you close the app completely. You just can’t stand to look at it anymore.

Why Them?                              

Everyone probably wonders this. It’s a common question that comes to mind when something incredible happens to someone else, especially when you’re dying for it to happen for you.

Then the following thought causes you to reflect upon your life. More specifically, the lack of those things.

You start trying to put the pieces together as to why they have it and you don’t. You may even come up with these outrageous theories as to how they tricked the system into making it work for them.

Then you start to question your path in life.

If that’s what their life looks like and your life is the complete opposite, you are in the wrong place.

Basically you’re using someone else’s life as a gauge to your own.

When they get or do something that you’re not able to you begin to think there is something wrong with your life or the corrupt things they must’ve done to get it.

Regardless, you think you should have it too, especially since they have it. I mean you guys are about the same age right? Your lives should be pretty similar.

Um, maybe not.

Just because someone is the same age as you doesn’t mean you both have to live parallel lives.

Whenever you look at someone else’s life and draw comparisons like that, thinking that you both should be having near similar experiences, you’re focusing too much on them and your lack in comparison.

You have the keeping up with the Joneses mentality. You then become caught up with what they’re doing and why you’re not doing the same. When you really should be focusing on your goals, which may not be the same as theirs.

You don’t need to look at someone else’s life to determine how well you’re doing in your own.

Apples to Oranges

It easy to look at someone’s awesome vacation and new car and think to yourself that you should be doing the same thing and making the same purchases.

But comparing yourself to someone else is more complicated than that.

You can’t compare your life to someone else’s based on a simple photograph or 15 second video. It’s like comparing an apple to an orange. Sure they’re both round-ish fruit but they’re quite different, in a number of ways.

There are a lot of things that go into the making of any one person’s life. So even though you have a picture, you don’t have the big picture.

If you truly need help in figuring out if you’re making the appropriate progress in your life, compare your present to your past.

Look at how your life was before compared to know. That will truly tell you if you’re on the right track.

When you stop focusing on the details of other people’s lives you’ll have more time to spend on improving your own. And most of all you won’t be annoyed and oddly fixated every time you open a social media app.

Whenever you find yourself comparing something someone posted to your life, consider this:

Everyone Wants Different Things

When you look at a pick of a new car an old friend recently purchased you quickly forget that you weren’t lusting after one.

You just immediately think about how the two of you aren’t on the same page. He’s driving a new sports car and you haven’t been near a dealership in years.

I mean even if you were to get a new car, would it have been that one? Do you even really care to get a car now? You probably have bigger fish to fry.

We’re not all the same. We’re all unique in every aspect, including our desires. Just because you know someone who got a new car doesn’t mean it’s time to trade yours in.

You can’t effectively compare yourself to others who want different things.

It Puts You in a Bad Place

When you’re trying to figure out if you’re on the right path it seems useful to look at the lives of your peers. But eventually the progressive check disappears and something else you didn’t bargain for takes over.

After taking it all in you become resentful not just of them but of yourself also.

You become fixated on how much more you could have already but don’t. You end up jealous of them for having it and mad at yourself for not.

Like, what do they have that you don’t?

Worst of all, you may start to think that you’re inferior to them because they seem so accomplished.

Life Is Not a Game

Does it really matter if someone else seems to have more than you? What does that really mean anyway?

They’re not winning if that’s what you’re thinking.

Life is about living and enjoying it. It’s not about getting the most likes on Instagram or accumulating the most stuff.

It’s not a game that can be won by portraying the best life ever.

Besides, there are a whole lot of people in this world. Based on sheer statistics there will always be someone out there with something better in some aspect of life.

There’s just no way to compete, and it takes the fun out of life.

You’re Focused on Your Weaknesses

Another not so great thing about comparing yourself to others is that you tend to focus on your weaknesses.

And it’s not even an even comparison of your weak versus theirs. You’re comparing your shortcomings against the highlights of someone else’s life. Basically, it’s your worst against their best.

You end up so focused on their best that you forget that you can be pretty amazing too.

It’s a Distraction

Look at what you’re doing.

Instead of thinning out your own to-do list, you’re wasting your precious time worried about what someone else is doing and what they’ve accomplished. 

This is what you’re doing when you really should be keeping your eyes on your own paper.

You have things to do, you have goals for yourself. And you only have a limited amount of time to do them. So why are you wasting it?

Your to-do list isn’t going to do itself, so stop wasting your time.

It’s a Bad Habit

Sure it seems helpful or harmless at first but it’s actually hindering. You probably have a number of habits that don’t seem as bad as they actually are.

Comparing yourself to others is one of those habits. As described in the number of points above in can result in reactions and effects that are restrictive.

When you’re wasting your time with such a distraction then end up in a bad mental place, as a result of this it’s hard to motivate yourself and enjoy life.

It’s completely counterproductive.

They Always Use a Filter

And I don’t mean the photo editing that they put over the picture to make it look even better.

People are only going to post on social media what they are comfortable with showing. You get to see what they want you to see.

Who doesn’t want to share pictures of their vacation, wedding and new house with everyone? It’s such as exciting time in your life you can’t really keep it to yourself.

But we all know that there’s more to life than time away from work and parties.

The next time you find yourself comparing someone’s awesomeness to your life, remind yourself that you don’t know what it took to get there.

It Doesn’t Compare

While comparing yourself to others may seem like a good way to determine if your life is on track it’s actually limiting and self-defeating.

Just because someone is living their life one way and doing different things doesn’t mean you have to conform to that to be happy. We all have our own meanings of success and we should follow that, not each other.

The best way to determine your progress in life is to compare your past to your present. Figure out if there has been any improvement from then to now. If there isn’t, work on that instead of focusing on another person’s progression.

You don’t have to keep up with any Joneses, you just need to live up to your own definition of happiness, whatever that is.

Once you focus on that you’ll realize that no comparison is necessary. You can be happy doing your own thing.

 

Tell me…

Do you see how comparing yourself to others is a losing battle?

 

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About Lea


Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!


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  • Hi Lea, Great points you make. Sometimes you can compare yourself to others and realize how LUCKY you are compared to them, I don’t mean that in a nasty way, but seeing other peoples’ troubles can help me appreciate that mine are just minor annoyances compared to what some people have to overcome. Joy

    • Lea

      Hi Joy,

      That’s a good point, it’s just too bad many people don’t pay much attentiont to that. It seems they tend to be more fixated on what someone else has that they don’t. Whereas, looking at someone less forunate and being grateful is a passing thought.

      ~Lea

  • Hey there Lea

    Brilliant post. I think it’s easy for most people to fall into that pattern of envy. It might be due to internal programming from our immediate environments (parents, childhood friends, etc) or we’re just hard wired that way.

    You’re right about everything you said. It’s a huge distraction and it doesn’t serve us to stare and compare.

    • Lea

      Hey Marty,

      Thanks a lot! Good point. That’s why it’s so important for them to take notice and turn things around. This kind of comparison isn’t good for anyone.

      ~Lea

  • Hi Lea,

    This is certainly an emotion we have all experienced. “Why not me!”

    And I think we always will, but it’s just about how we manage this feeling. All of your points are great and if we can bring back our own thoughts, back onto our own journey (and achievements) then we will be happier.

    The point you mentioned… “it’s a distraction” I feel is so important. That’s why I mainly use social media for business only, otherwise you can waste hours just feeling upset, after only having a window view into someone else’s life.

    Naomi

    • Lea

      Hi Naomi,

      Yup, sometimes you just can’t help it. Especially when you’re in a tight spot.

      This is true. Your own journey is that one that really matters.

      You’re so right! Sometimes people only tend to go on social media for a minute but then can’t tear themselves away once they get one. It can be a complete distraction. I too limit my time on it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      ~Lea

  • Hi Lea

    This Feeling; Why not me? It is something we can all relate to so easily. However, comparing oneself to others has no benefit and you listed some cool facts.

    We should learn to be happy for others. I agree that we are all different and want different things so I wonder why people go through the stress of trying to dissect the life of others.

    Loved this post and thanks for sharing. Have a swell week.

    • Lea

      Hi Ikechi,

      We should definitely express happiness for others. It’s a wonderful thing when people are happy and get what they’re after. But that doesn’t take anything away from us so there is not reason to express such a feeling.

      I completely understand. I feel like the time would be better spend elevating your own happiness instead of picking apart others.

      Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! Enjoy the week.

      ~Lea

  • Hey Lea, good to see you back!

    This is a wonderful article that breaks down several reasons we find ourselves comparing to others and offering solutions. It’s insightful and well thought out.

    Social media comparisons are not helpful at all! But you make it clear what the temptation to do so is all about.

    I agree that it’s best to compare your now to your then. And when you’re working on your life, it’s easy to see non-material gains which make the temptation to compare to others (especially on social media) a little less tempting.

    For myself, any temptation to compare my status, material accumulations, relationships, achievements etc, can be quickly quelled by directing my energy to my purpose. I’m blessed that I know my purpose.

    You did a great job inspiring readers to bypass temptation to compare 🙂

    Take care,

    Jenn

    • Lea

      Hey Jenn, thanks for visiting again!

      Thanks so much!! 🙂

      Yes, there’s so much more to life than the materalistic things captured in a photo. Especially when you know about the real work you’re doing behind the scenes.

      That’s wonderful Jenn, and great too! There are still so many people out there who are lost.

      Thanks again for your kind words and sharing how you overcome the temptation.

      ~Lea

  • Brilliant article and observations Lea. It’s also easy to overlook that a few photographs, inspirational quotes or jokes posted online don’t represent a person’s whole life. For example you can borrow money or max out a credit card to take a vacation and still be living an unfulfilled life. I absolutely agree with your point about striving to be better than the person we were yesterday. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Lea

      Thanks Marquita!!!

      Exactly! It doesn’t sum up their lives yet we tend to think of it that way. Very true example. In fact more and more nowadays people do things that are post-worthy, just to share it. The focus is putting on a show not living a happy life.

      Thanks for stopping by, glad I could inspire you! 🙂

      ~Lea

  • Quite a while ago Lea, I decided when we compare ourselves to others, someone ALWAYS comes up short. What’s the point of this then?

    I agree with your points building up to your conclusion that comparing ourselves to others is a losing battle. So insightful.

    But it’s also often a losing battle just comparing us to ourselves at times. Best to let comparison go and instead find more peace and acceptance in the present.

    • Lea

      I agree Patricia. It tends to be a put down more than anything else. There ends up being more focus on lack and problems, rather than finding solutions and being appreciative. And to strive to be our best that’s what we need to do.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on comparison.

      ~Lea

  • You spoke a lot of truth in this post. Comparing yourself is a big waste of time. I agree with the items that you have listed. Comparing yourself can become so much of a distraction that it can affect multiple areas of your life. As you stated earlier you can become resentful or jealous of the other person. At the end of the day people should just worry about being the best they can be.

    • Lea

      Yes its a huge distraction keeping you from working on the things that you want. This would ultimately make you feel worse, with or without comparison.

      So true. If you just focused on yourself and your goals you wouldn’t be worried about anybody else’s.

      ~Lea

  • Hey Lea,

    It is a waste of time comparing yourself to others, I agree. I don’t know why we can’t just enjoy the photos that others are sharing. Be curious about the car, holiday or new house they have bought. Really embrace that people we know have worked hard to achieve something on their own to do list.

    We only show our public image on these social media sites. Well it should be a practice with intention. Showing your worst side on these sites is beneficial to nobody. Life is a merry go round where the horses go up and down and that is how our emotions play turmoil with us. Our focus should remain like you said on our own ‘to do list’.

    Lea you have written a wonderful post and really have shown that there is no point wanting someone else’s wish list.

    Rachel

    • Lea

      Hey Rachel,

      You’re right, but I guess it’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re not experiencing the same.

      I like that comparison because life is like a merry go round. When you’re focused on your goals and make progress, the ride isn’t so bad.

      Thanks Rachel! Nope, other people’s things will not make you happy. You have to find out what will make you happy.

      ~Lea

  • mark newsome

    Boy you nailed it big time Lea!

    And usually, as you pointed out, once you pull back the curtain and have a peek
    at what’s really going on behind the scenes, often things aren’t as quite as rosy, glamorous or care free as we originally thought!LOL!

    And to top it off, we realize, that’s not the particular outcome we wanted anyway!LOL! You have shared so many incredibly helpful tips and suggestions
    in this one extremely excellent post!

    I think my one really big takeaway is, before we start comparing ourselves and our current outcome to others, let’s first be crystal clear on exactly what we want and what we’re prepared to do or not do, in order to get it!

    Thanks again, because you are so spot on!!

    • Lea

      LoL thanks Mark!

      Nope! It all takes work and dedication but we tend to forget that when we see someone else enjoying what looks like the easy life.

      Great point! We all have different priorities and limits. If you aren’t willing to do the same you really can’t be made at someone else. But you should definitely focus on what you want when comparisons come up. Always keep your focus on your desires.

      Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

      ~Lea

  • Hi Lea,

    When you compare yourself to others, it is an unreality. Looking at others achievements and happy stuff posted all over the place, we need to be happy for them.

    I know some that have this issue comparing themselves to others and I always tell them that “You don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.” People put their happy moments up, but what about the rest of their lives? One doesn’t know if they are struggling, or sick.

    If anyone has this problem, they sure need to understand the entire spectrum. We can never compare ourselves to others. Rather, start with being grateful for what we have already.

    -Donna

    • Lea

      Hi Donna,

      That’s very true, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Or what it took for that person to get to that point. It’s all filtered. You share what you want to and people don’t put their skeltons on display.

      Being appreciative is a great alternative.

      Thanks for sharing your insight.

      ~Lea