Stopping Comparisons: Reclaim Reality and Raise Your Self-Esteem
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is that we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel” ~Steve Furtick
Have you ever wondered when the turning point was? When did you start questioning yourself and believing you were missing something? When did you stop thinking of yourself as invincible and start noticing what others called “flaws”?
As a teenager and young adult, I struggled with severe depression and anxiety.
In my early twenties, I entered treatment for my eating disorder, a decision that proved to be life-changing in the most positive of ways.
During my second stint in treatment, I met a young woman who was a year older than me, and the walking embodiment of everything I wanted to be. I felt threatened, intimidated, and highly insecure every time we were in the same room.
She was smart, beautiful, spoke French better than I did, and had a loving boyfriend. I wished that I had her olive skin and shiny dark hair, not to mention her exquisite wardrobe.
However, I also quickly learned how much she and I had in common, including an insurmountable desire to be envied and admired for our accomplishments. Our similarities caused us to repel against each other like the similar poles of a magnet.
I so badly wanted to be her, and she became the mirror by which I judged myself for the next few months. Despite our apparent commonalities, she always had the edge, or so I believed.
In reality, her life wasn’t as perfect as I made it out to be. After all, the only reason we had even met was that we were both patients with eating disorders, but I chose to ignore this key fact.
Nevertheless, I believed that the reason she didn’t like me was that she thought she was better than me, confirming the beliefs I had about myself—that I was unlikable, obnoxious, and stupid, and that’s why people gravitated to her over me.
On my last day of treatment, all the patients and therapists gathered in a group for a small goodbye ceremony.
When it was her turn, she said without hesitation, “I was really intimidated by you when I got here. You’re so smart and were constantly writing in your journal. I always thought you were writing all of these brilliant philosophical thoughts and I couldn’t keep up with you.”
As it turns out, I had created this entire scenario where she didn’t talk to me because she thought I was stupid and obnoxious.
It had nothing to do with reality and everything to do with my own beliefs about myself and how others perceived me.
Words will never do justice to how I felt at that moment. I was genuinely shocked to my core by her admission that she had at one point compared herself to me!
Now, almost two years later, I look back at the situation and see why this woman crossed my path.
- Do I have all the information?
- Am I judging fairly, or using someone’s success to make myself feel like a failure?
- Will comparing make me feel better or worse about myself? Be honest!
4. Cultivate compassion toward yourself and others; it changes everything.
Berating yourself or others won’t produce a change in the long run. When you take a compassionate stance, you give yourself the chance to accept yourself the way you are and in turn, that lets you create positive change. Change that comes from a place of self-love is more sustainable than change that comes from a place of self-hatred.
5. Don’t let someone else’s confidence diminish your own.
There is not a limited amount of confidence in the world. There’s room for all of us to feel good about who we are and what we accomplish.