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5 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Updated: Jan 10

One of the most tempting paths we can go down is looking around at everyone else and comparing our achievements to their achievements. And as I'm sure you've noticed, the longer we go down that path, the darker it gets. There is no light on that path, people!

I love this quote by Andrea Dworkin:

“Does the sun ask itself, 'Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?' No, it burns and it shines. Does the sun ask itself, 'What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?' No it burns, it shines. Does the sun ask itself, 'Am I as big as other suns in other galaxies?' No, it burns, it shines.” ––Andrea Dworkin

Because this is Planet Earth, there will always be others who have more and who have less. Does everyone deserve a fair shake? Most definitely! But we're all coming from different places and that means different journeys with different gifts we've collected along the way. Not comparing any of us to Robert Frost, but let's take that road less traveled, y'all. I bet it's lined with wildflowers! Wildflowers make all the difference.

Dwelling on those we perceive as "better" or "smarter" or "super duper more stylish" can be a real killjoy. There's nothing like making things worse by thinking we're worse! I know this because I have a tendency to be a real killjoy to myself all the livelong day. It's really annoying.

If I had a life motto, it would read, "Talented at killjoying it!"

Healthy competition is one thing, but if we focus too deeply on what everybody else is doing or accomplishing or posting about, it'll stifle our creativity. And I'm not a huge fan of creativity stifling!

Maybe it's time to crush on what YOU are doing with your talents and abilities. And I so happen to have some ideas to help you get started.

Rainbow weaving through puffy, cumulus clouds over the ocean in Sandestin, Florida
Ya think this rainbow said, "Well, that rainbow yesterday was pretty doggone perfect. Guess I now won't be a rainbow today or ever!" Um, I don't think so. • Photo Credit: @katstanophotography with iPhone; Sandestin, Florida

Here are 5 ways to stop comparing yourself to others:

1. Celebrate YOUR milestones.

Did you recently learn something new that you didn't know before?

What's one thing that you've done this month that's gotten you closer to your goals?

How have you evolved emotionally, artistically, or spiritually since last year?

  • Write down some of the things you've created, explored, or discovered that have surprised or delighted you. You could make an accomplishment journal!

  • Do you have a photo of yourself doing something meaningful to you, receiving accolades, or sharing a good memory with someone who inspires you? Attach it to your fridge or make it your desktop wallpaper.

  • Frame a group of pictures that represent who you are. Maybe they're photos you took on a life-changing trip or happy times you shared with your favorite people and/or animals.

We're all constantly growing and changing. You're no exception! Revel in YOUR amazingness for a moment.

2. Be genuinely happy for those you admire and send some love their way.

Sometimes we see someone doing really well and sometimes their success is in a very similar field or area we might want ourselves to succeed in, too. And it can make us sad or disappointed if we're not there yet. I very much get that.

When I find myself in a place of comparison, envy, or feeling I'm not good enough, I have to alter my thought process before I get too involved in negative thinking. Over the years, I've discovered a little trick that helps to combat this mental exhaustion we've all indulged in.

It's more of this:

"If that person can do such a cool thing, it's possible for me, too! And that's exciting!"

And less of this:

"Ugh! Why can't I be incredible like that? It's not fair! Boo-hoooooooo!"

It's much more like this:

"Wow. This is really inspiring. I'm grateful I live in a time where so much is possible."

And not so much like this:

"I give up! I'm never going to do anything that spectacular!"

And 5 other ways to stop comparing yourself to others by being thoughtful of others:

  • Sending a genuine note of congrats

  • Posting a sincerely kind comment to their social media

  • Asking them more––it shows your interest and you may have a new friend and creative cohort

  • Restarting that project you set aside, knowing it could happen for you, too

  • Asking God or the universe to bless their hearts and, no, I do not mean the snarky version!

And if you don't have it in you to be happy at the moment (another thing I get!), just say, "That's nice!" and then return to what you're working on.

Kat Stano holding a butterfly on the beach
There are thousands of butterfly species in the world, but this one caught my eye. It was struggling by the shore, so I held it until its wings dried. And when it was ready, it soared into the blue. I don't think it could've been any more beautiful. • Photo Credit: Jon Saura; Gulf Shores, Alabama

This post features affiliate marketing links, which is a fancy way of saying I might get paid a small amount of money if you click on one of those links and make a purchase at no extra cost to you.

If you love butterflies like I do, check out this butterfly tea light holder I just came across. So pretty and inspiring. Do I need this? Maybe!

3. Keep a steady focus on your own goals.

One of my good friends shared a quote with me this week that went something like this:

"Compare and despair."

I'm not sure of the original author (if you're that author, please write and I'll give you proper credit!), but I'm sure whoever said it is quite the wise one. Why waste time despairing?

Instead, do stuff like this:

  • Update your goal list.

  • Make a plan to complete that list.

  • Remember that we follow no one else's markers of success--–we're fabulous on our own time!

  • Make a Pinterest quote board of encouraging words and sayings that keep you moving forward.

  • Do one simple thing right now that will further your goal: Edit a few pages of your story, brainstorm new essay ideas, or create a playlist of songs that will motivate you.

  • Take a break and do something unrelated that you simply enjoy. Downtime is SO important!

Even with just 5, 10, or 20 minutes in a day, there's something that can be accomplished or learned. Say adieu to the 15-minute pity party and set aside this time for you.

4. Stay mindful of every unique gift you have to offer.

Now pause for a moment and think of the awesome people you admire. THEN, think of qualities that they might admire about YOU. This is not a competition, by the way. It's just an exercise to remind yourself that you have characteristics that are just as amazing as your friend over there. The world needs you BOTH.

So what are the traits and achievements that make you stand out and shine?

Stop right now and write down as many as you can. Here are some examples:

  • "I'm good at organization."

  • "People are drawn to my caring personality."

  • "I observe things others tend to miss."

  • "My prose is pretty darn pretty!"

  • "I can draw kittens better than anyone I've seen."

  • "I know all there is to know about paleontology."

  • "Learning new songs comes naturally to me."

  • "I'm independent."

  • "My gardening skills are getting better and better."

  • "I finished my screenplay!"

Put this list in a place where it's easy to reference. Update it as time goes on.

5. Save positive feedback and encouraging compliments.

This is so easy! And it's fun!

Make an "I'm Awesome!" file with emails, texts, notes, and words of encouragement from others.

No, we're not trying to create conceited, little, maddening monsters here (the internet already has that covered!). We're building healthy confidence! Creatives tend to be overthinkers and overthinkers tend to doubt themselves. Not anymore! Because you have the "I'm Awesome!" file.

Once you have an impressive collection, you'll love going back and reading those words of kindness and faith––in YOU!

Sunset shimmering across the ocean's shoreline in a unique pattern
Nature creates art every day, all day. And it's always new. And it's always unique. • Photo Credit: @katstanophotography on iPhone; Gulf Shores, Alabama

There are so many ways to build success, and staying on track (aka, not veering onto someone else's track) is one valuable lesson I've learned. Being happy for others and not hard on ourselves puts good energy into the world. And I believe that good energy will somehow come back to us.

Do you have any tips for avoiding harmful comparison habits? Please let me know in the comments!

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