Theodore Roosevelt once said “Comparison is the thief of joy”—and it’s often true. But it’s natural to compare yourself to others, especially at work. Unfortunately, this habit can backfire on you, taking a toll on your happiness, stress levels, and productivity. Use these tips and tricks to help you feel more confident in your own abilities, which can also help you feel happier, more fulfilled, and less stressed!
Make it motivating. It can be hard to stop comparing yourself to others. So if you can’t stop, flip that comparison around to something positive and inspiring. For example, instead of thinking, “Ugh, George handles clients so smoothly, and I feel so awkward in comparison,” tell yourself, “I really admire how George handles clients, and I’m going to start taking note of what he does that’s so impressive so that I can improve my own interpersonal skills.”
Focus on your own positive traits and abilities. When you’re busy paying attention to what you think someone else is doing better than you, you’re not paying attention to what you already do well. When you find yourself falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others, start reminding yourself of all the things you’re great at. For example: “Just in the past year, I’ve won an award for best regional manager, I’ve really improved my knowledge of Microsoft Excel, I got an excellent review from my boss, I easily passed the certification exam, and I’ve completed all my projects on or before the deadlines.”
Choose to learn and improve. The truth is, we’re not all good at everything. Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. In addition to noticing the areas you’re strong in, also notice the areas you’re less strong in and would like to improve. If you take control of your situation and focus on learning and building new skills, you’ll have more to feel confident about and more accomplishments that you can celebrate and feel proud of!
Cultivate a team mentality. Instead of buying into the idea that you have to strive to be the best person on your team, instead try to be the best version of you. In addition, look to your coworkers as peers and helpers, not rivals. Aim to help, motivate, and inspire each other. If you’re on a team that doesn’t currently do this, start cultivating an attitude of teamwork and growth on your own—you’ll be a leader by example, and it’ll be just one more thing you can be proud of yourself for!
Stay away from social media. Remember, most people only put their “good side” on social media—for example, they’ll put the cutest pictures of themselves and their kids on Facebook, and won’t consider adding evidence of those not-so-cute moments (yelling at the child that just crayoned all over the wall, a selfie of what they look like in the middle of the night when they get up to care for a crying baby). If you’re constantly visiting Facebook and getting upset that Sara always looks better in photos than you do, Sally has the perfect family and you just have a cranky “Terrible Twos” toddler, and Mark is always posting pictures from his lavish vacations to exotic locales (the types of trips that aren’t in your family’s budget), consider a digital detox. Can’t cut out social media entirely? Consider using lists in Twitter and Facebook to only see updates from your closest friends and family.
Practice gratitude. Instead of thinking about what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. Practicing gratitude can benefit you in many healthy ways, but it’s a great activity to do when you feel compelled to compare yourself with others. When comparison-type thoughts sneak up on you, grab a piece of paper (or use a note-taking app) and write down 5-10 things you’re grateful for. Not only will this stop the negative thoughts in their tracks, but it’ll also help you focus on the positive things in your life.
Compare with yourself. If you really want to compare yourself with someone, compare yourself with you! Aim to constantly grow and be a better person than you were yesterday. There are lots of ways you can improve on a daily basis, such as:
- Learning: Reading more, taking courses, trying out a new skill or hobby
- Networking: Meeting others in your field, finding a mentor, writing a business blog
- Being helpful: Making yourself available to others for help and advice, listening to others, always having a kind word to say to coworkers and loved ones
- Meeting your health goals: Work toward eating better, getting fit, lose weight, quitting smoking, or managing your stress
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the EAP+Work/Life program, call us to talk to a Licensed Professional Counselor or Work/Life Specialist. They can help you address concerns like stress management, work/life balance, issues in the workplace, and more.