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We all know these people who at times can make us feel inadequate. Online they can be prolific. They talk about how much money they make. How many followers they have. Where they live. What car they drive. Normal things to talk about. I’m one of these people myself sometimes. Some of these people may refer to themselves as influencers. I know some people hate this word but we are all influencers in our own way. Some of these people genuinely want to help others. Some lovely people share their amazing statistics when asked as a benchmark to what is possible online. I’m not having a dig at such people in this post. When you see someone else online who is killing it, whether through hard work or good luck, it can feel almost impossible not to compare yourself to them. Today I want to talk to you about comparison syndrome. Something that myself and other people I know online have been known to suffer from.
I went away on holiday recently and while there I didn’t worry about what everyone else might be achieving while I was away. Instead I enjoyed a wonderful holiday with my family. I really feel that I’m combatting comparison syndrome now – it feels great!
Comparison syndrome, or comparisonitis, is basically when you compare yourself to others to see where you come out. If the result is that you deem yourself to be ‘better’ or ‘higher’ than them then you might feel better. For a short while at least. If you feel that someone is doing ‘better’ than you then you might feel down. Or a bit worthless. It may even trigger off depression. Today I want to tell you why all of that is a bloody big waste of time.
These are the ways that I have been working to combat comparison syndrome. I’ve mostly stopped giving a crap about how I might be deemed to be doing, compared to others. I’ve mostly stopped worrying about whether my website is better than others, whether my social media is and whether I’m earning more money than someone else. I almost never give a crap about what other people are doing and this is what I’m doing to achieve that.
Ask yourself – are you trying your best already?
If the answer is yes then great. If not then instead of being bothered by the success of others try and push yourself a little more. There are usually ways that we can improve ourselves financially, physically, mentally or emotionally. If it feels like you’ve got an overwhelming amount of work to do then start with what helps you and your family. Don’t worry about money so much if you’re already making enough to get by. Instead look after your mental health and put yourself first for a change. Think about your family and loved ones. They are who will matter when the chips are down.
Ask yourself – are you a nice person?
I’ve made no secret of the fact I can be a bit bitchy at times. It is a flaw of mine. I think more people could do with being honest about their flaws. We all have them. What I have done to try and combat this in the last year is put myself in other people’s shoes. Maybe someone is being rude, or seems rude, because their own life isn’t going great. Sometimes when someone is depressed they are blunt or abrupt. They probably don’t mean to be. Even if they do you can’t change someone else just by wanting them to change. Instead look at being a nicer person yourself. There are times in life when you have to suck it up and smile. Sometimes those times are frequent.
I’m known for being honest, and blunt, at times. I’ve tried to tone this down, just a little, to avoid hurting other people’s feelings unintentionally. Try and put yourself in the shoes of others. You might look down on someone for taking a lower fee for work – maybe they really need that money. Without knowing the financial situation that others are in it is easy to sit up in your ivory tower looking down on people. This is something that I personally have been ceasing the judgement on. It feels good.
I have been working on being a nicer person with my random acts of kindness campaign. Also, I am always looking out for those people around me. I send online friends little gifts to let them know I’m thinking of them in hard times. Even a message to someone can be a nice (free) way of letting them know you do care. If someone I know is having financial dire straits I’ll try and help – within reason. I’d rather be time rich and cash poor but sometimes you need to dedicate time too.
Ask yourself – am I comparing myself against people who are nice people?
In the past I’ve been known to compare myself against others. This can be a good thing. Sometimes it makes me strive to work harder. Other times I realise I’m comparing myself against someone who isn’t necessarily a nice person. If you’re seeing someone with lots of money, or time, or possessions, think about the bigger picture of what matters to you. Often social media can be a little glimmer into someone’s life, just a glimmer. People show off their highlight reels.
Obsessive comparison disorder is something that affects a lot of people. We compare ourselves to people that we see online. Often comparing ourselves to these people seems harmless. Initially, we don’t even realise that we are doing it.
Why even bother wasting your time on comparing yourself to others?
Nobody knows what truly goes on behind closed doors. No-one knows if what people say online is true. Instead focus on comparing yourself, if you want to compare, to good people. Strive to be more like kind hearted people who want to be selfless not selfish. It is possible to make good money, or have what you want in life, without stepping on the head of others. I’ve learned that myself the hard way.
Try and be happy for others
In times gone by if someone has achieved something I wanted I would feel down for myself. Maybe I wasn’t working hard enough. Perhaps I’m not a good enough person. Really what I should have been focusing on is feeling happy for others. Now if someone achieves something I might want I make a point of feeling happy for them. Afterwards I feel that I have worked at being a better person. I’ve congratulated someone on their success.
As a bonus I’m getting myself in a positive mindset which usually pays off. Being negative all day is exhausting and just leads to those feelings seeping in to other areas of life. At times you might have to force yourself to feel happy for others but give it a try – you may become more positive in the process.
Focus on your strong areas
Do you have a specific skill set? I do. I’m somebody who writes content for multiple other websites, as well as my own. Personally I don’t brag about this, much, and I only share details if it is helpful to someone else. I’m happy to focus on what I consider to be my strong areas. For me this is being a good friend, wife and Mother. I’ve become compassionate, friendly, helpful and I put myself out for others. This beats any other success that I could possibly achieve hands down. I don’t want to let comparison syndrome ruin the areas of my life that I feel I’m strong at.
Write yourself a list of goals
I love to make a monthly list of aims. For me I want to focus on a number of areas. Of course I want to make money – I mean we all need to live right?! Once I’ve made some money I want to then use some of that for the greater good. Donating to charity, helping friends and family and having a nice life. I don’t care about buying a flash house, or a big car.
Instead I prefer to use my money, and time, to be present. This helps me stop suffering from comparison syndrome. I’m with my daughter everyday. I get to spend lots of days off with my husband and wider family. If there is a crisis, or my Mum almost dies again, then I can take time off to be there for her. You may want to sit down and work out what truly matters to you – you may be surprised. Also, if you’re a working parent who can’t be home and present everyday don’t let my post upset you. It isn’t aimed at you. After all we all do what we can for our family. Everyone is different and what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another.
Having a list of goals gives me something to focus on throughout the days and weeks. I like having goals and I enjoy beating them. At times I can be a competitive person, however I now want to compete with myself and not others.
Think about your accomplishments regularly
Having a rubbish day? Or week? Why not think about some positive things instead of being victim to comparison syndrome. This helps me to stay in a positive frame of mind and reminds me not to sweat the small stuff so much.
Are you surrounding yourself with positive people who are proud of your success?
For me I’ve got a number of great people that I can share my success with. Whether this is finally getting through the washing, being on the radio or something else that I’m proud of these people care. Genuinely. They are people of a similar mindset to myself. They don’t want to tread on the heads of others on their way to their successes. While they may also share their successes in return to my own they don’t try and make mine feel insignificant. David at Thinking Thrifty, Chermaine at ChammyIRL and Jon at The Money Shed are all people I feel I can share my good fortune with. Whether I’ve worked hard for something or not.
Read blog posts and watch vlogs from uplifting & honest individuals
For me I want to read blog posts from people who are honest and tell their life how it is. I don’t want to read blog posts from people who pretend they are something they are not. I think such posts just increase the likelihood of comparison syndrome. Here are some of my favourite blogs and vlogs to watch/read recently:
Vloggers I’m loving:
Emma Drew – Emma has an eclectic mix of videos which keeps me interested. You can find out what is great in Poundland (to make your home nice, treat yourself and save some cash) but you can also see honest videos about dealing with depression and anxiety. Such conditions can be very cruel, and doesn’t care who it targets. I think that Emma being so honest in her videos about her battles helps others to realise they are not alone. Emma wrote me a post about money saving at Disney before too that is well worth a look!
Cora Harrison – Cora, and her partner Helen, have some fantastic videos. The music is uplifting and I often watch them while I’m cleaning in the evening. As I get prepared for another day of normal life I really enjoy seeing what these ladies have been up to. Cora and Helen don’t seem to be bothered about material possessions and instead go around hustling, making money and enjoying their lives.
Bloggers I’m loving:
What The Redhead Said – Donna is an example of someone who has made a success of herself, through hard work, but stayed a nice person. Donna has provided me with blog help in the past and always shares her wealth of knowledge with other bloggers. I feel that Donna is an example of how you can be a nice person, help others and still be successful!
Toby&Roo – Harriett is definitely an influencer. Despite her success she is a lovely lady too. Harriett offers advice to other bloggers, without being braggy and in your face. Also, Harriett’s blog posts are personal, avoid judging others and make me feel good about myself. I love Harriett’s honesty about parenting – it is good to know I’m not alone in my own feelings at times. This post about putting away the judge pants as a parent really resonated with me and I’ve been taking that through my first year as a parent.
My final thoughts on comparison syndrome
I’m sure going forward I will still have pangs of comparison syndrome. It is a natural part of life really. However, recently I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and others. I know some wonderful bloggers online and some of the stories behind what really matters to them.
Ultimately we all need to be a little kinder to others, and others too. You never know what battles people are facing in their personal life. Comparison syndrome isn’t really kind to anyone, no matter how successful you may think you are. Remember that what people exude on the surface isn’t always what it is true. Comparing yourself to someone you barely even know is a waste of time. Enjoy your life and be proud of your own achievements – whatever they may be. For me my biggest achievement is being alive with my daughter and family. I almost died, again, last year so I’m super grateful just to be here!
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