Hey there, comparer
Before you go, ‘oh, great, here’s ANOTHER thing I’m doing wrong, unlike my perfect cousin who like never did a thing wrong in her life,’ relax. It’s normal to compare.
As Aylin Dulagil, a coaching psychologist with thepostivityinstitute.com.au, says, “As human beings, we compare ourselves to other people all the time. We’re all very social creatures and our social status and sense of belonging to a group is vital to our survival and well being.
Comparing can be a way of trying to improve ourselves, or checking where we stand.”
It’s a girl thing
It’s a thing for basically everyone but you guys are extra susceptible, soz.
According to Aylin, research has found that women are more likely to compare themselves to others than men are – and, unforch, might get down about the whole thing too. For example, she says if women see an ad with lots of thin women in it, they are likely to become self-critical of their own body, whereas men who saw an idealised body were more likely to become hopeful of what they could achieve.
Also, you’re more likely to get into comparing if you are self-conscious and reflective. Show of hands if that describes you? Just about everyone? Yep.
The problem with comparisons
Aylin explains that if you have low self-esteem and start comparing yourself to people around you, you might start to beat yourself up.
“If it goes on too long, it could lead to body dissatisfaction and potentially eating disorders,” she says. “It’s also linked to a lack of self-compassion.”
That means if you’re doing it, you’re not being all that kind to yourself and recognising your own strengths and talents. “You could end up with depression.”
But what can you do?
Since it’s only natural to do it, it’s not like you can be all, “Hey, self, why not STOP doing that?” Aylin says you can just try and notice it when you’re doing it and have a look at how it’s making you feel. “If you’re feeling bad, just notice that and go, ‘Oh, isn’t that interesting how I’ve focused on her good points instead of recognising all of my good points as well.’”
You can also consider this thing called “fundamental attribution error” – basically, you can see your own dramas coz you’ve got front row seats to your own feels of doubt, insecurity and uncertainty. And everyone goes sailing around looking like they’ve got this 10/10 life.
But they defs don’t – and you just don’t know that coz you can’t see their problems, which doesn’t mean they’re not there. Salina suggests going on YouTube, like she does, “It’s real people with real stories, showing you their lives, the good and the bad – and I think that’s peaceful and balanced.”
Nothing helps! My friend really IS better than me!
Got a too-perfect friend who is basically Taylor Swift? What if she, objectively, really is outshining you all over the place? Aylin recommends focusing on what you are good at, regardless of how good she is at it.
“You might be equally good at it, or good at it in a different way. It’s almost about taking comparison out of the equation, which I know is really hard. Everyone has a different set of strengths, and they are all equally valuable.”
Goal-setting can help – for example, if you think your friend is heaps more popular and it’s bumming you out, you could set a goal to talk to three people you never spoke to before at the next party you go to. You can try getting revved up. Salina says, “If someone like got better grades than me, I always found it kind of inspiring – like, oh here’s a girl the same age as me who is doing incredible things, so I can do those incredible things too.”
Salina also recommends being supportive. “If you support the people around you, they can only support you back. Surround yourself with awesome people and this will create an environment for you to also be awesome.”