We all do it. Look at someone else's good points and compare them to ourselves. We find a flaw and in turn end up feeling not so good about ourselves. Instead of comparing yourself to someone else and feeling negative, turn that comparison into a positive, and it might just take you far.
This is only a snapshot of I’m-not-good-enough talk and let’s be honest, even the most self-assured of us do it: a recent study from Notre Dame University in Indiana, US, found women in science careers are racked with feelings of inadequacy, and think they could never be as good as their female mentors.
To be honest, I rarely look up to the people I work with because of the age gap, and our different roles, but I certainly feel like that about others. We use comparisons with other people to form our sense of identity and to decide which tribes we fit into. The trouble is, our comparisons are often negative and we end up placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
Nowhere is it easier to have an attack of I-want-what-they-have than on social media. On Facebook and Twitter, there’s huge opportunity to judge our success, attractiveness, slimness and funniness against other people. However, a friend once told me: "remember that what you see on social media is never the full story; it’s an edit of someone else’s life." I try to remember that and say, ‘Hey, that’s her moment,’ then focus on something great in my life, and move on.
Despite all of my efforts I've realised there’s no point in saying ‘Don’t compare yourself’ because you will anyway – the trick is learning to manage it.
I think the first step is to accept there will always be someone better or worse at something than you. When you’re having a negative comparison moment, focus on your strengths. It’s really important to accept compliments and it can even be useful to keep praise-filled emails or letters to look at when you're feeling inadequate.
Judging yourself against others can actually be useful if it motivates you do something positive. If a colleague is a whiz at public speaking and you feel you don’t measure up, take action, read up on public speaking tips in a book or online, or book yourself into a course.
Personally, I find I compare myself to my successful big sister, and it has spurred me on to follow my dreams, which is exactly what she has done. I am undeniably, happier for it.
Finally, whenever you find yourself feeling like you don’t measure up, try this trick: ask yourself, ‘If my best friend said those things to me about myself, how would it make me feel?’ Upset? Angry? So, why would you accept those negative thoughts from yourself? It seems a bit silly, but it actually works.
Here's to letting go of the things we can't control, and focusing on the good stuff. If an individual has better legs, better cooking skills, or a better job, then cecome proactive - start working out, try out a cooking course, or maybe re-evaluate your role at work. Comparisons aren't all bad, after all.