We’ve all done it. Just after doing something that we’re pretty proud of – like going for a morning run, taking a great photo, deciding to apply for that new job after all – we sit down to reward ourselves with a cup of tea and a cheeky biscuit, and a quick scroll through the social networks.
Before we’ve even had a chance to double-dunk, we notice that someone’s taken an even better photo, oh and look, they’ve just moved into their massive new house, and yep, there he is, been at the gym since 6 am and just set a new PB.
Within seconds you’re regretting having a biscuit, you're a bit disappointed with your photograph and you’re never going to get a job that will pay enough for you to buy a house as nice as that one. The sense of satisfaction you felt before you picked up the phone has gone. And feelings of frustration and anxiety are starting to creep in.
This is an extreme example of course, but it’s not too far removed from what actually happens when we start to compare our achievements to those of others.
The thing is, while you’re focusing on what other people are doing, your time and energy are being sapped away and wasted on thoughts that only take the shine off what you have done well.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
See and feel grateful for what you have
I don’t mean you should start hugging your toaster. What I mean is that it’s impossible to feel happy with what you have and who you are unless you celebrate it. Notice and record what you have, what you’ve done, what was good no matter how small, at the end of each day. It doesn't need to be a long journal that you pour your every thought and feeling into, a list of expanded bullet points work perfectly. The key is to acknowledge what you have and be grateful for it.
Don’t leave it until you need to write a CV to start taking note of what you’re good at.
If self-reflection doesn’t come easily try starting with something broad like - ‘I’m good with numbers’ and then try breaking it down. For example, being good with numbers could mean that you can identify trends in data, which your boss used in the presentation, that convinced his boss to increase the budget, that means… you get the idea. The important thing to realise is that every step of a process is as vital as the next.
So, keep track of everything you do well, big, or small, and when the next opportunity comes you’ve already got the evidence you need.
Also, when you get positive feedback print it out, write it down and feel that. Don’t deflect it.
Be kind to yourself.
Take notice of the language you use when talking and thinking about yourself.
Phrases like ‘I’m such an idiot’ or ‘I’ve always been rubbish at that’ are not helpful and generally not true. Think about how you would feel or respond if you heard someone talking like that to people you care about. You are in charge of your narrative. Make it a good one.
Finally, be aware of influences around you (friends, family, social media, co-workers) and how they affect your outlook and confidence. Learn to recognise when you need a break from those influences – maybe skip drinks with friends this week, mute some people on social media, or get out of the office for a walk at lunchtime. And if that seems like it would be difficult remember that friends will understand, social media probably won’t notice, and there’s fair chance your co-workers feel the same. Take the power back.
Finally, be aware of when is a good time for you to be on social media. Limit your time on there and familiarise yourself with ‘mute, delete, unfollow and block’. If it doesn’t inspire you, entertain you or motivate you then question why you're still scrolling.
Created by Katie Teesdale-Ward