How To Stop Comparing Yourself Indefinitely

I’ve been there. I’ve had anxiety attacks that have been so bad I kept myself in my room all day. I’ve managed to overcome them and if I can do that, I know you can to, my friend.

The issue here isn’t the fact that I’m having anxiety issues about being out in public. He thinks that’s the issue. The real issue has more to do with I’m not in the right headspace to perform improv in a public space.

After a brief reconnect, my roommate is re-learning why he distanced himself from a particular individual. The individual in question is a decent individual, however, their personalities clash, and it ends up causing my roommate to be more frustrated afterwards than happy to have that connection.

While this is likely to turn into my roommate distancing himself yet again from this individual, I’m also reminded about a trend we see in self-help. This trend has plagued the industry for a long time, to the point that it keeps people and gurus alike trapped within a bubble and not really growing in any fashion.

I’m talking about the comparison trap.

For gurus, it’s easier since they naturally provide advice and pull from scenarios that they’ve personally dealt with. But just because they can relate in that sense, doesn’t mean it’s the best method for someone else’s problem.

And for the individuals themselves, they are trapped in their own bubble, not expanding their views and limiting themselves to what they’re capable of. People blindside themselves through comparison and can’t fully see the scope of their abilities and what they can do with them.

All in all, the trap is terrible and easily sprung. But because it can be so easily sprung, it can be avoided entirely.

Rethink About Comparing Yourself To You

One of the most common pieces of advice for avoiding comparison is to shift who you are comparing yourself to. The argument is sound given that people bring up elements of context, that people had different circumstances, and so on.

The idea is to use that logic to stop comparing who you are to someone already successful, rich, or extremely well off, and instead set the bar lower.

Compare yourself to someone in your local community.

Or better, compare yourself to who you’ll be.

For a long time, I believed this to be the penultimate outcome. To compare yourself to your future self. It makes sense given that you want your past self to give your future self the tools they need in order to thrive.

But I think that’s a bit of a trap as well.

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The issue with comparing oneself to our future selves can easily create a cycle where we strive for perfection. It’s the idea that who we are in the future is our ideal image of ourselves.

We’re shy about meeting that person since that image changes and improves in some manner, but I believe we miss out on something in the process.

In striving for what we think is an ideal image of ourselves, we lose balance and become less of who we want to be.

I got the revelation from a video I watched years ago.

That video was Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar acceptance speech.

And while it’s a stirring speech he gave, it’s undercut by his attempt last year in selling a self-help course on how to live one’s life.

The man compared his millionaire self to an even wealthier individual preying on people with another expensive course all because he spoke to a monk one day.

Peak perfection right there.

While many people might not care much about McConaughey overall, the point is, this happens a lot time and time again. When I started delving into freelance writing in 2017, I was comparing my future self to a richer and more well off guy.

Well, I’m on income assistance and I’m still scrambling around for clients and work overall.

This is one aspect of one’s life and by no means is the sole factor for how our lives turn out to be or where we’re at right now. However, if one isn’t where they want to be, they make changes.

Pick up new habits. Reach out. Talk to people and meet new people.

And maybe even change our thinking on some things we think we know about life.

Focus On Your Goals, And Making Them

Going onto income assistance has changed my perspective a little on what needs to be prioritized. It’ll provide a nice cushion to work with, though the primary concern is finding some work to get me started.

My first goal is to be making at least $3,000 per month consistently. That should be enough to get me off income assistance and have more stability in my life. But obviously, I’d be looking at increasing that amount.

But that won’t be until later.

Our goals are connected to direct problems that we have in our lives as they are the key to solving our problems. With that in mind, avoiding comparison is a matter of focusing on goals and creating more of them.

Not to overwhelm ourselves.

But to keep us growing time and time again.

They ultimately give us something to focus our attention to and work towards. The more ambitious our goals are, the more we have to change and adapt in order to address them. In essence, the goals that we set can indirectly communicate to us who we are becoming as we succeed them.

It’s comparison, without really comparing who we are to who we will be.

We simply focus on the process instead and trust it.

And Then Make Goals Better And Smarter

The final step though is to be setting better goals altogether. How does one set better goals? It’s through reflection and understanding of who we are right now.

Not so that one can compare who we were or are to who we want to be, but to understand ourselves as a whole.

The more I come to learn that comparison to ourselves and to others is a trap and not a useful tool, the more I value simple reflection for who we are and to ask questions around that.

Are we satisfied with who we are? Are we satisfied with our growth? If not, what do you think we could change? What thing could we do differently?

In a sense it’s comparison since who we are at this juncture will be different in the future should we follow through with the action. However it’s gentler. We’re not racing with ourselves as much.

We’re not trying to speed through the process and achieve the desired outcome.

We simply exist and are melding with what we think is right for us right now. If we were wrong, we pause, reflect, and make some adjustments and try again.

All of this is culminated to better goals or markers in some cases.

It’s easy to compare ourselves to others or to ourselves. Self-help has conditioned us to focus on these kinds of elements in our lives with the promise to fill in the gaps eventually.

But the issue is the tactics don’t really help. Years of comparing “my future self” to who I am now didn’t help me get further ahead. In fact, it blindsided me about the goals I’ve been setting and the methods I choose to try and achieve them.

And I have no doubt it would do the same the more you try to compare who you are to your future self or anyone else.

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