We all do it, right?
You look at someone else and compare yourself negatively.
You wish you had what they have.
You wish you could do what they do.
You wish you could be like they are.
You wish you were as talented, creative, funny, successful and beautiful.
You look at these people and then you look at yourself. There seems to be an impossible gap. You will never have what they have. You will never be able to do what they do. You will never be as they are.
And that's when you sink into your pit of despair. You'll simply never stack up against these people. There's no point even trying. You hate yourself for not being better. You hate them for being more special than you are.
Negatively comparing myself to others has been one of my biggest challenges since starting my business. It was very present in my pre-self-employment life too, but it was magnified to a whole new degree when I stepped into self-employment.
Everywhere I looked there were people doing incredible things. Everywhere I looked there were people with the sort of successful businesses I wish I had. Everywhere I looked people were building something inspiring and creative. Everywhere I looked people were getting opportunities I wasn't.
Every time I looked at these people all I saw was an impossible gap between me and them. They were something that I'd never be. It left me miserable. And it left me paralysed.
I still negatively compare myself to others at times, in the moments when I'm not being mindful of what's happening. But it happens increasingly rarely. And when it does happen, I have a strategy to pull myself back.
Today I'm going to share with you a very simple idea that has radically changed the way I react when I see other people doing amazing things in their business and life.
If you let this idea into your life, I guarantee it can radically change things for you too.
Admiration and inspiration
I asked a client during a coaching session last week if she could please list all the things she admires and finds inspiring about me.
And whilst I do love a good ego massage, I promise this wasn't about me.
Here's what she said (shared with permission):
- You’re authentic. Some blogs feel like they're full of crap and selling a lie. You share your struggles as well as your successes and that makes me connect with you as a human being.
- You've stepped into stuff that’s difficult and challenging.
- I love the videos that you make. I'd love to do something like that.
- I love that you ask questions that really make people think. They're not superficial.
- I love that you don’t take yourself too seriously.
- I love the pictures on your website.
- You're just being who you are. And you can feel that you care about what you do and that your heart is in it. It's not about selling.
- You're inspiring because so many people would not have had the courage to have done what you’ve done.
Woo! Yes, I'm totally awesome. But that's not the point.
As I listened to her speak, a big grin formed across my face. Why? Because every single thing that she listed was already true about her in her own life.
I read the list back to her, but put her at the centre of the picture.
She's recently started writing a blog (check it out here) about her journey of leaving her 9-5 office life behind and venturing into a world of uncertainty. It's straight up, honest and authentic.
She's stepped into situations that are both difficult and challenging and she is showing her willingness to do that over and over and over again.
She's started making these really creative stop animation videos with lego men to express her thoughts and point of view. It's a way of presenting personal development information that I've never seen before.
She's running a project asking people this one question, "What matters to you?" It's a question that really makes you stop and think.
She's got this brilliant dry sense of humour which comes through in everything she does.
She's being more and more of who she is in the world and I know that she really cares because I can feel it in every interaction I have with her.
She left her 9-5 job without too much of a plan and has been courageously exploring this new world ever since.
When I read this back to her, she seemed shocked.
Because it's so much easier to see things in other people than it is to see them in ourselves.
The mirror theory
You've likely come across the idea that when we see things in other people that we don't like we're actually seeing a reflection of something we don't like in ourselves.
This can be good. It's an opportunity for self-reflection and growth.
But here's the thing. We become expert at using the mirror theory to look at what we see as our less desirable traits. We constantly 'work on ourselves' and tell ourselves we have to do better. But what we rarely (or never) do is use the mirror theory to shine a light on the brilliant things within us.
The mirror theory for positive comparison
If you are going to look at others and accept the idea that what you see in them is a reflection of yourself, then it's only fair that you use it for the qualities you love and admire in others as well as the ones you don't like so much.
At times, what you see might be something you are already doing or being in the world but simply hadn't realised. At others, the thing you admire in someone else might be something lying dormant inside you, waiting to be birthed into the world.
But whatever the scenario, you notice and admire certain qualities in others because there's a part of you that understands they are also within you.
And this is such a magical thing. Because next time you find yourself looking at someone else and wishing you were as brilliant as they were, let the thought drop into your mind that their brilliance is simply a reflection of your own. Tweet that.
They are only showing you what is inside of you. They are only showing you what you too are capable of. They are only showing you your own brilliance and your own light.
There is no need to negatively compare yourself to others because that which you admire in them is already a part of you. Tweet that.
Over to you
Blog posts without comments is like peanut butter without jam - only half the joy. So please add your voice to the comments section below and share:
- Your own experience of negatively comparing yourself to others.
- Any of your own tips for overcoming negative self-comparison.
- What it might change for you if you were to let the idea shared in today's post into your life.