5 Reasons Why Comparing Yourself to Others is Bad for Your Mental Health

Well, would you look at that? It’s yet another celebratory post from an influencer about something amazing and inspiring that happened in their life. Doesn’t it feel great to see other people’s wins while you’re working hard to reach your goals? The truth is that sometimes it just plain sucks.

It can feel like a punch in the gut when you see someone with a seemingly perfect life posting about an accomplishment you wish you had managed to achieve. Humans are naturally competitive. However, this innate trait becomes detrimental to your mental health after a certain point.

If you constantly find yourself nitpicking what you do or don’t have in comparison to others, you might be stuck on the Ferris wheel of “compare and despair.” The good news is that you can find a way to end this perpetual cycle of comparing yourself to others through self-awareness and mental fortitude.

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Ending the “Compare and Despair” Cycle

“Compare and Despair” is an unhealthy thinking style in the world of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This way of thinking can be ingrained in several ways – from witnessing other people do it to mental health disorders. It could also develop out of habit. A little comparison here, a little comparison there, and bam! Now your mind is overridden by negative thoughts and comparisons.

The first thing to remember is you are not your thoughts. You might not be able to control your thoughts, but they don’t have the power to control you. There will always be someone doing things “better” than you just like there will always be someone doing things “worse” than you. Everything is relative. 

The next thing you can do is reframe your mindset. If you want to learn how to do this, here are 5 reasons why comparing yourself to others is bad for your mental health – and ways you can end this dreaded cycle!

1. It Breeds Jealousy and Envy

It’s natural to want what you can’t have, but those feelings can turn into something much more toxic if you let them boil over. If you find yourself constantly thinking about what you don’t have, ask yourself whether it’s important to your overall well-being.

Everyone is on their own journey. You have no idea what that celebrity or influencer had to go through to get to where they are. Even your friends and family might not be completely honest about how difficult their relationships can be or how much blood, sweat, and tears they put in to get to where they are.

You don’t have to be jealous of other people’s lives and achievements. Think about what you’re grateful for in your life. You might be shocked to learn that the person you’re jealous of doesn’t have some of the things you have. Would you trade genuine happiness for more money and followers? 

No matter what you want (or think you need), contentment starts within yourself. It’s okay to live a normal life with a normal home, a normal car, and normal clothes. It’s also okay to wish for more, but comparing yourself to others isn’t the way to get there. 

2. It Decreases Confidence

Comparing yourself to others could start to erode your sense of self-esteem over time. This can lead to self-loathing, which can lead to an anxious and depressed mood. Most people don’t care if you don’t look like Gabrielle Union or Denzel Washington. Most people don’t care if you make six figures or not.

Most people are just like you. They are doing their best with what they’ve got, and that’s more than enough. It’s way too easy to lose sight of what makes you unique when you’re constantly trying to meet unrealistic standards. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself and focus on cultivating an environment in which success and failure are acceptable.

When you’re feeling confident, everything becomes a lot less scary. From smiling and interacting with others at work to pushing through a presentation on stage, confidence is one of the keys to success that you do not want to lose. 

The next time you feel like someone is so much better than you (it’s all in your head), ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I like most about myself?
  • What are my greatest strengths/skills?
  • What can I do to become a better version of myself?

3. It Creates Anxiety and Insecurities

Being preoccupied with others all of the time can cause you to live in perpetual fear of messing up or not being good enough. What if I never find the one? What if I’m stuck at this job forever?

Pump your breaks and slow down. You have your whole life ahead of you. Instead of focusing on other people, focus on yourself. You might even start to feel disconnected from yourself because your mind is so fixated on other people’s opinions of you. 

You’re the only person that you need to compete with. You might even start to feel disconnected from yourself because your mind is so fixated on other people’s opinions of you. Leave some room in that bright head of yours for self-love and acceptance. 

At the same time, being hyper-focused on yourself can be detrimental as well, so it’s important to find a healthy balance. 

4. It’s a Waste of Time

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, and how you choose to spend those hours can make or break how you perceive your life to be. Sure, you can spend your day agonizing over what you wish you had, but that isn’t very productive. Instead of comparing yourself to others, you can work towards achieving your goals.

There are plenty of opportunities to reach success, but you will miss them all if you don’t give yourself a chance to take them. You can’t grow if you’re fixated on what other people have going on. A lot of times, people give up before they even begin. Give yourself a chance!

Instead of wasting your time and energy, think about and answer the following questions:

  • What would be the most effective use of my time?
  • What opportunities would I like to have?
  • What is the best way for me to get these opportunities?
  • What will achieving my goals allow me to do?
  • Why are my goals important to me?
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5. It’s Bad for Your Relationships

I think we’ve all had a friend who liked to put themselves down at some point or another. You don’t wanna become that friend. Maybe they brushed it off as jokes, but self-deprecation isn’t healthy – even as humor.

Hey, maybe you are that friend, but that’s why you’re here. You’re here to learn and heal in a judgment-free zone. Never let someone else determine how you view yourself. It doesn’t matter if the person is your significant other, parent, best friend, coworker, or a random person on social media.

No one wants to be around super negative and unhappy people. There are much better ways to communicate your feelings than ragging on yourself. Here are some healthy ways to talk about your feelings with other people:

“I don’t feel beautiful because everyone on social media uses filters on their photos” instead of “I’m so ugly. Nobody wants me.”

“I had hoped to get a better job by now and now I feel stuck and unmotivated.” instead of “I have no talent. I’ll never get a better job.”

“I went for a run, but I could only run for three minutes before I was exhausted.” instead of “I’m so out of shape. I can’t do anything.”

The most successful people in this world aren’t perfect. Success means you never stop learning, improving yourself, and chasing your dreams. 

Everyone has different strengths, skillsets, and goals in life. You don’t have to compare yourself to other people because you aren’t them – and they aren’t you. You are uniquely worthy of love, happiness, joy, and success. 

The most successful people in this world aren’t perfect. Success means you never stop learning, improving yourself, and chasing your dreams. As long as you never give up, you can figure out who you are and what your purpose is in life.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ngozitherapy if you want to stay connected!

Ngozi Ojukwu

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