Author and Public Speaker Steve Furtick once said “The reason we struggle with insecurity, is because we compare our behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Today, the challenge is simple: fire your inner critic. If you’re like most, this critic has been with you since you were a young child, but this familiar voice inside your head is no friend to you or your happiness. Quick to compare, and even quicker to judge, this inner-critic not only makes you feel insecure, but it challenges the very relationships you need to thrive. We learn the comparison habit early on in life, and if we aren’t careful, this habit will blind you to your own value, potential and worth as an individual.
This inner critic works by making snap judgments about ourselves based on comparisons to those around us. “I am not as good of a mom as she is, because I have to work full-time.” “He makes more money than I do, he must be smarter than me.” “They look so happy; I bet they never fight about money or who has to empty the dishwasher.”
When comparing yourself to others, you are effectively depriving yourself of the human connection we all need; if you compare yourself to someone else and determine your worth is less than theirs, you may feel depleted, depressed or resentful, prompting an instinct to shy away, withdrawing as a defense mechanism. If you compare yourself to others and determine you are better than they are, you may feel contemptuous or dismissive, again, leading you to disconnect, not wanting to associate with someone you deem to be below you.
The next time you catch yourself making a comparison, remind yourself how unfair it is do so; chances are you have very little fact to base your comparison on, and instead, are making assumptions based on how something looks from the outside. It is easy to compare yourself, and your quality of life, to those around you when you skim through Facebook to see a coworker enjoying a tropical vacation, or the couple down the street smiling in front of their brand new car. But remember, even though things may appear to be a certain way from the outside looking in, chances are, the picture isn’t telling the whole truth. When you compare yourself to others based only on what you see from the outside, you are setting yourself up for feelings of defeat, based on false perceptions and unrealistic expectations.
So, exactly how do we tame the inner critic?
Embrace your individuality; free yourself from the pain caused by unfair comparisons by taking pride in the ways in which you are unique.
As Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” We are all different- we come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences-making any type of comparison between the self and others irrelevant. Comparing yourself to someone else is just as silly as comparing a fish to a monkey.
Instead of judging yourself based on what others have, or appear to have, take a moment to appreciate what YOU have. When you’re stuck in the rut of comparisons, you’re expending your energy outward- which keeps us feeling one step behind, and ultimately, keeps us feeling unhappy. Instead focus on your own strengths and goals.