Do you ever feel jealous of your friends and think 'they must be so happy because of all the great things they have?' Or have you ever thought ‘it was easy for them because they have more money, a bigger Intsagram following, are more naturally outgoing, better looking or self assured?'
Most of use are intimately aware of that gut wrenching feeling that happens when you see or hear something that immediately makes you second guess your appearance, accomplishments, personality or skills.
But did you ever stop to think that maybe the exact same script is playing in their head? That they're looking at someone else and thinking the exact same?
The truth is, your self worth is not and will never will be tied to an achievement, possession or what you have or do in comparison to someone else. Being happy with what you have, where you are in life and where you're doing is something you can have today. It's a state you can put yourself into almost immediately. You can feel more empowered because it's all in your mind and actions.
We have conditioned ourself to look for the bad in situations rather than the good. The threats rather than the opportunities. We've conditioned ourself to ALWAYS be on the look out for someone who is doing it better.
Think about this for a second, how much time and mental energy do you spend doubting or second guessing yourself and then as a result feeling badly about your appearance, accomplishments, personality, or skill set? It's true what they say, the grass is greener where you water it.
But here's the truth; you don't need to change your job. You don't need to find Mr. Right. You don't need to win. You don't need 10,000 followers or 100s of likes. You don't need the perfect outfit and you don't need to waste another day or night overthinking, feeling bitter, anxious or upset.
All you have to do is one or two things each day to completely change how you feel through the day. Rather than ruminating over your perceived inadequacy, you can quickly recognise them for what they are - small negative thoughts that have spiralled out of control.
I compared myself to other women's bodies and accomplishments ALL the time. I doubted myself and every thing I wanted to become. I became so stuck in indecisiveness and confusion about what I truly wanted because I was too busy stalking other people on Facebook!
For so many women comparison is the thief of beauty, happiness and success but I'm yet to find something that outlines practical and actionable steps to help me overcome it. I have seen and experienced first hand just how destructive social comparisons can be. Even though I am a firm believe in the power of positive energy and of the mind, there are far too many of us unaware of what action can be taken to understand and manage the triggers that cause us to lose confidence.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with taking a more spiritual approach to our wellbeing but I like to get my hands dirty every now and again, so here are some practical things that I have learned and that work for me.
understand and Manage your triggers
We all have certain triggers that causes our confidence to take a nose dive. If you are self conscious of your body, it could be a trip to the gym. If you are an aspiring blogger, it might be the time you spend examining other blogs. For some, it can even be a family member or friend that leaves you feeling second best.
I was reminded of this recently when I caught myself comparing all aspect of my life to a couple of people on Facebook. I instantly started second guessing myself, my business and my appearance and as a result my happiness and self esteem plummeted.
In the past I was very bad at taking steps to block out the negative thoughts and chatter. I would always end up feeling like I may never be enough.
Being aware of what triggers your social comparisons is crucial. For many of us, social media is the number one trigger causing us to make social comparison yet we do nothing about it.
When you look through your Instagram or Facebook newsfeed, how many people make you feel happy, successful, confident and positive? I want you to unfollow anyone that doesn't make you feel good.
Unfollow. Delete. Repeat.
Sometimes will power alone isn't enough and we need a little help. You can hide your Facebook newsfeed by installing News Feed blocker or you can delete some of the apps from your phone.
Keep a success bank
The truth of the matter is, if I asked you to list 10 problems you would spit them out faster than I could reach for my cup of coffee. But if I asked you to recall 10 positive experiences you would struggle.
Whether you feel like you have high or low self esteem it's important to continually do things to nurture and make you feel good, proud, accomplished, appreciated, respected, or empowered.
I want you to compile a list of your strengths, accomplishments and successes and to lodge these into your success bank where you can reflect and review on these often. This is a really healthy way to keep yourself distracted whilst teaching you to focus on the good things in your life. It's really important that you keep a written record of these things. Sometimes you won't feel like writing anything down but you will always benefit from reflecting on what you have.
Rather than ruminating on everyone else's highlight reel, why not try getting to know them? Or even helping them? It feels easy to compare our beginning to someone else middle even though we know, deep down inside, this is irrational. Nevertheless, your jealousy is trying to tell you something! Wouldn't life be easier if you became involved with the things that you desired, instead of watching from the side lines? Comment, interact and support the women (or men) that make you feel a little threatened. Remember, the exact same negative thoughts and chatter might be playing in their mind too!
Change Your Environment
Take back control of your environment and surround yourself with images, photos and quotes of things or events that make me feel good. I refer to these as my patter interrupts and they are powerful reminders of what is really important in my life. When you can direct your energy to things that really matter, you will have less time to focus on things that don't (like creeping on someones Instagram account).
Naturally, we seek the approval from the people around us. We want to be liked and to feel like we belong somewhere, anywhere. It's human nature to think about, occasionally feel concerned about what people think about us or compare ourselves to them – but equally, it’s important to be comfortable in our own thoughts and feelings. To know that we are enough - that our thoughts, likes and beliefs are sufficient.
When you have low self esteem it's easy to become caught up in a cycle of negativity, expectation and self loathing - your energy gravitates towards the negative aspects of your life and as a result, grows. Next time you start to feel negative, grab your phone and make a list of three things you're grateful for. It doesn't have to be big. Trade your 'should' for gratitude and appreciation and you will instantly feel better for it.
You are unique
I know you are probably sick and tired of random-ers on the internet telling you how amazing you are but the truth of the matter is, you are! The problem is not our reminders, it's that you expect way too much of yourself.
You are a unique, wonderful human being and you are so important to your friends, family, community and world. Comparison will rob you of your happiness and success so embrace your individuality and unique spirit or energy but it is completely within your control (and ability) to stop.
Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project, a movement dedicated to helping you live happy, healthy, positive and confident lives and with oodles of infectious energy she is super passionate about helping to inspire feel, life and be better. She’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.