The topic of ‘comparison’ is controversial. It can be a blessing or a curse. But fundamentally, we need to learn how to stop the toxic comparison and use it to drive our growth strategy and start thriving.
Do you have that bittersweet feeling when you scroll through social media and see people who “seem” to be doing so much better than you? Like always travelling, from one country to another. Or moving from one big house to a bigger house. How about when someone unboxed their 12th Chanel handbag when you don’t even own one? Does that make you feel inspired, empowered, envious, jealous, unaccomplished or inadequate?
It is a human instinct to compare ourselves whether we realise it or not. We compare our current selves to our former selves to see how much we’ve grown. We compare ourselves to our friends, and peers to see how we benchmark against each other. Companies benchmark themselves to past performance and their competitors to measure their success.
And guess what, they also benchmark their employees against peers and rank them from top performers and mediocrity. Whether that is right or not is a different story. What I’m trying to say is, to compare or being compared to is a fact of life. And how we respond to it is what really matters. So we needn’t be scared of it. We need to figure out a way to help us thrive.
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How to make comparison work for you
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of online content telling us to stop comparing ourselves to other people. But is that the right answer?
Isn’t it more important to develop a healthy mindset towards comparing than to avoid it altogether.
Without comparing your today to who you were yesterday/month/year etc., you wouldn’t know if you’ve grown or have remained stagnant. If you don’t compare yourself to those who have achieved the goals you are striving for, then how do you know how much further (or closer) you have to go? So in order for us to grow, we need to constantly review and track our progress against our baseline and continue to elevate the baseline.
Personally, I use this information to assess whether I am on the right track or create a new strategy to course correct. But it is not all about improvements. Having knowledge of how much I’ve grown over the years has also given me a massive confidence boost. But whether it’s a confidence boost or a kick up the backside, I’ve developed a way to thrive, which has been a real blessing! And I want to share what I’ve learnt with you so that you too can benefit from one of the most powerful drivers.
Healthy comparison will inspire you to become the best version of yourself, in a healthy way. This is one of the key principles we advocate here at The Modern Ladylike. Continuously discovering areas for improvement, and formulating strategies to refine and elevate ourselves is our advocacy.
But on the flip side, continuous improvement can get really nasty very quickly if don’t have the right mindset.
It can send you into a downward spiral of toxic mind games
If your mind is in a bad place, comparing yourself to other people can make you feel sh!t about yourself and your life. Especially when scrolling through Reels highlight of people travelling whilst you’re sitting at home with messy hair, chipped nails and a sink of full of dishes!
The saddest is what started off as inspiration, ended up making you feel unworthy of yourself, inadequate, and not good enough. Something that used to drive us towards our goals very quickly turned into a series of toxic mind games. Spiteful envy. Resentful jealousy. Living your life but yearning for someone else’s will destroy your self-esteem, self-worth and drive. Needless to say, is a very dangerous headspace to be in!
BTW, if you need to hear it again, not everything you see on social media is their entire life. It’s just the highlights of their life. Says me who just shared a picture of herself posing in front of the Eiffel tower! This is just a small window into my life. Outside of the grid, I am actually working in a very demanding corporate job. I often work 10-12 hour days and sometimes weekends whilst trying to maintain a blog. Now you know why I’m struggling to stick to my posting schedule?!
But I digress…
So how do you stop the toxic comparison and start thriving?
I am a strong believer in tackling the problem head-on instead of going through life and avoiding it altogether. Because what are you going to do, move to an isolated island and never see people again?! I prefer to take control of it than let it control me!
Change the narration
Cultivating the right mindset is the most important step to stop the toxic comparison. We can achieve this by changing the narration we tell ourselves. You know, that annoying voice living inside our heads that is always very negative, destructive and unkind to us? Well, we need to replace it with a positive, encouraging and loving voice.
Instead of seeing the glass half empty, learn to see it half full. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you already have. And it’s ok to fill your own glass!
So when you see Jane Nextdoor carrying her 5th Chanel bag, instead saying things like you can’t afford it, and you are not good enough to carry one etc. Say to yourself, you have other goals in your life, and are prioritising your spending on other things that matter more to your right now. Instil the belief in you, that if you were to prioritise luxury handbags, you would have a wardrobe full of them already.
Live your own life. Take control of your own goals and dreams. Don’t let external factors control your thoughts. You are unique and special. You don’t need to be like Jane Nextdoor!
I mentioned in my last post I went back home, for the first time in 4 years. During that trip, I saw that all my friends have upgrade their houses and living in their dream homes with 5-beds, 5 bathrooms, double-stories, a huge garden etc. etc. etc. One even has a swimming pool! Then there’s me, renting a 2-bedroom flat with a balcony only big enough for 1 person. I could’ve easily taken that at face value and started saying to myself how far behind I am compared to my friends. I could’ve easily let myself go down the rabbit hole of the toxic narrative and start feeling sh!t about my life.
The truth is when I looked beyond that, I also had many successes, which may not be showcased through big houses and fancy cars, but I am ok with that. Because that is a conscious lifestyle choice we have made. This brings me to the next point…
Count your successes
My husband and I have chosen to live in the hustles and bustles of London. We may be renting, but we have investment properties. Our flat may be tiny compared to the houses in Australia but it is huge by London standards and is in an affluent area. But most importantly, renting gives us the flexibility of living wherever we like and in our favourite neighbourhood!
Apart from the tangible achievements, I also remind myself of all the invaluable experiences I’ve had, such as travelling and country hopping at least 8 or 9 times a year; dining in some of the top restaurants in the world, and immersing myself in local experiences.
I’m not telling you all of this to boast but I want to remind you to not everything is what meets the eye and success comes in many shapes and sizes. Where you are today is the result of the choices you made yesterday and the goals you’ve set. So when you see others’ success and feel a little inadequate, flick back in your goals book and count what you have accomplished! Change your narration and be proud of how far you’ve come.
If settling down in your dream house is what you want, then make that your goal and work towards it. If you work hard at it, you are bound to achieve it. It’s just a matter of time!
My last point on how to stop the toxic comparison is practising gratitude. Here at The Modern Ladylike, we often talk about cultivating elegant habits. If you only pick one habit to work on, then let it be this one!
Having a gratitude mindset will bring you contentment. It is only when you are content with your life, that will you find true joy and fulfilment. You will no longer care about what other people have compared to you or what they say about you. You are grateful for everything you have, whether big or small and be proud of all your accomplishments. You will be content with where you are today. Contentment does not mean complacent.
Practise gratitude by writing 3 things you are grateful for every day, ideally in the morning. You can write it on the Notes app or use a gratitude journal similar to this. I try to do this most mornings. Some days it is just having access to a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee! Try for yourself and see how it changes your life!
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Final thoughts on how to stop the toxic comparison and start thriving
In summary, comparing yourself to other people doesn’t have to be a toxic mind game. Bringing the right mindset with you is the ultimate goal. You can do this by changing your narrative, counting your successes and practising gratitude.
Contentment will set you free and an abundant mindset will let you thrive.Janey
Do you agree with my thoughts comparison? What other tips would you add here?