Why comparing yourself to others is influencing your self-esteem

by | Jul 29, 2022

“This will save you. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You are only on this planet to be you, not someone else’s imitation of you… Your life journey is about learning to become more of who you are and fulfilling the highest, truest expression of yourself as a human being. That’s why you’re here.” – Oprah Winfrey

(The following content has been approved by our psychologists.)

“I wish I was thinner like her”

“I wish I was prettier like her”

“I wish I had that car like her”

“I wish I had that job like her”

Do you constantly compare yourself with others? Do you often feel sad or inadequate about your own life and achievements? Did you just see that girl’s vacation pictures and get jealous? Or did you see some couple’s pictures and felt sad about your single life?

Perhaps you are comparing yourself with a friend who just got a promotion?  Or maybe with someone at school who got better grades than you? If so, you have set yourself up for a game that you can never win!

If you constantly fall into this trap of comparing yourself to others, know that you aren’t alone. In fact, it is totally human! By comparing ourselves to others, we try to understand ourselves, who we are as people, and what our identity is.

We try to know where we stand in life by looking at other people’s lives. We compare so that we can belong, we can fit in, and can create new connections and relationships. In fact, if we use comparison to push ourselves to do better and to figure out ways to improve our lives, comparisons can be motivating, with positive outcomes for our well-being.

Upward comparison

By comparing ourselves with someone who we perceive to be better than ourselves (referred to as upward comparison), we can move towards setting new goals and towards self-enhancement. The world-renowned author, Mel Robbins says:

“Ever get jealous when you see someone else succeed? I know I do. It’s normal to have those feelings, but it’s what you do with them that can change your life. Know this: Jealousy and envy are there to guide you. They’re pointing you in the right direction. The next time you feel jealous, do this: Lean into the feeling. It’s your soul telling you, “This is the kind of success you want for yourself.” See it as a sign that it’s possible for you to experience the same success.”

Downward comparison

We also engage in downward comparison where we compare ourselves with someone with someone less fortunate than us. Downward comparisons make us feel better about ourselves and help us adjust our expectations according to a peer reference group (e.g., “I am in good shape for a woman my age”,  “My stroke had minor effects compared to my neighbor’s stroke”).

Clearly, comparison can be beneficial but it must be done in healthy amounts and at appropriate times. Too much comparison can quickly become destructive for our mental health.

Comparison is the thief of joy” 

Theodore Roosevelt

Constant negative comparisons are unhealthy, frustrating and self-defeating. They cost us significantly in creativity, in connection, our well-being, and potentially even our purpose.  Constant comparison of our life and ability with others destroys our happiness, robs our peace of mind and sanity, makes us feel small, and stands in the way of our success. It creates jealousy, ruins relationships, and destroys our sense of self-esteem.

Comparing ourselves with others is more often than not a quick route to feeling dissatisfied with ourselves and our life.

Toxic comparisons come from fears and insecurities, from our greed to have it all at the same time, to have someone’s looks, clothes, skin, success, status, car, jobs, relationships, and even their happiness.

Humans have always had the tendency to compare with others; the difference now is that we compare ourselves to a wider group of people, much wider!

In today’s world of Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, we have unlimited amounts of information at our fingertips. With one click, we can get to know who is wearing better clothes, who is eating better food, who is going on more holidays, whose relationship looks shinier, who is looking prettier and who in general is enjoying life more.

It is hard to see the Instagram reels of someone’s seemingly perfect lives on display and not want to have the same for yourself. Indeed, social media has taken comparisons to a completely new level of toxicity.

How to get out of the vicious cycle of unhealthy comparison and start living your best potential? Check out Soleil Health, as our team created an easy way for your to to improve how you handle comparison.

Final words

As humans, we are hard-wired to compare ourselves with others. But comparison only steals from our lives. To unlock our true potential and to have the life we want for ourselves, we need to know that we all are one of a kind and we all have a unique life journey.

We need to understand that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, the grass is greener where you water it. Focus on watering your grass and building your life. Stop unhealthy comparison, and start living!

Just remember: “You do you” and also check out this blogpost.

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