Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Five Ways to Quit Comparing Yourself to Others.

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Comparing ourselves to others isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s helpful. For instance, “by matching yourself against another, you learn how to define yourself,” said Deborah Serani, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and expert in mood disorders. You learn your likes and dislikes, and discover the values that are – and aren’t – meaningful to you, she said. It gives you insight into whether you have the right skills and training for a new position, performance, sports team or any other pursuits. It also helps you figure out your compatibility in relationships, she said. Comparison making becomes problematic when “it crosses the line from productive to obsessive, or from inspirational to stressful,” said Ashley Eder, LPC, a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colo. Here are five tips to help.

Keep Track of Comparisons
Keep a log of your comparison making. Having a concrete record gives you a better understanding of what you’re envious of. Review your log regularly. Who do you tend to compare yourself to? What are the types of comparisons you’re making? What things are you envious of? Then consider if you even want these things for yourself in the first place. Sometimes, we compare ourselves to others because that’s simply what we’ve been doing for years. It’s evolved into a bad habit – thankfully, one we can break. If you do want these things, reflect on your reasons. If your reasons are meaningful, consider how you can meet these goals.

Work From the Inside
Relinquishing your tendency to compare yourself to others is a long process, Eder said. “It involves deliberately getting to know yourself from the inside out instead of the outside in.” She shared this example: When you put on your clothes, focus first on how you feel in them instead of wondering how you look to yourself or to others.

Focus on Yourself
Before paying attention to the opinions of others, figure out what you want for yourself, Eder said. Tune into your own thoughts, feelings and needs. Discover your personal values and priorities. Delve into what genuinely brings you joy and meaning. Find out what you’re passionate about.
Stay Grounded
Serani encourages her clients to compare themselves to others, because it provides helpful insight; however, she stressed the importance of balance. “Allow yourself to compare and contrast who you are with others, but remember to ground yourself more in who you are, what you have, where you live and how you think and feel.” She likened your sense of self to driving a car. You view the environment as you drive along. But you’re the driver. “The wheel is yours to steer.”

Evaluate Your Environment
“There will be some situations that feel crummy no matter how much work you have done on your self-esteem and authenticity,” Eder said. This is usually a sign that the situation itself is problematic. The good news is that “you can opt out of situations and relationships that do not feel nourishing to your best self.” Comparing ourselves to others becomes destructive when it shatters our sense of self and our self-esteem. As Eder said, stopping is a process. The previous tips are a helpful way to get started. Remember, the key is to tune into yourself, and refocus on your genuine needs, wants and wishes.

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, is an associate editor at Psych Central and authors the body image blog Weightless. She writes about everything from anxiety and ADHD to creativity and couples to mindfulness and stress.
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