After the last blog post on what we must remeber before comparing ourselves to others, a friend and a loyal reader of the blog asked me this:
“Manasi, I loved your perspective however it left me wondering what solid actions I can take to stop this comparison. Just knowing that I don’t know every detail behind the rosy picture that I see, doesn’t help me. I still keep wondering, how to stop comparing myself to others. Will you please share some actionable steps that I can take in order to shift my mindset?” – SK
In today’s blog post, I am going to share with you 6 actions that I have taken that have helped me get out of this comparison mindset over the years. They are simple, yet powerful actions. By no means, these are short cuts or easy solutions. It takes work to build a resilient attitude. If you shy away from work, do not expect the results.
Let’s get started!
What are some actionable steps one can take to stop comparing themselves to others?
1. Notice, and re-caliberate
I must be 11-12 years old when my grandfather first convinced me why I shouldn’t compare myself to others. At that time, I didn’t understand what an important lesson he had taught me. But now I know.
I used to be at the top of the class most years in my school. One day after our semi-annual exam, a friend told me that one of our classmates was asking her how many points I received in each subject (course) so that she can calculate how many points she needs in the next exam to beat my rank. (In India, we had point / marks system, not the grade system. So we didn’t just get grade A to F, we got marks such as 93%, 89%, 65%. Each point counted.)
I was furious at this classmate. I went home and started complaining about it to my mother and said that I am going to find out how much she got so that I can beat her. When my grandpa heard it, he jumped right in.
He said eloquently, “Your competition isn’t with anybody else. Your competition is with 100%. If you compete with others, you may become as good as them or even slightly better than them at the max. But keep your eyes on the 100%, and you will become the best you can be.”
My grandpa had a knack for explaining complex human behaviors in such simple terms that even a child would understand, and that, too, humorously.
So the point is, every time you find yourself comparing, just STOP. Take a note of it and remind yourself that you do not want to do it. (If you are reading this, you don’t want to do it. Just remind yourself of that and the fact that it’s not healthy, and it’s not productive.
Plus you don’t know the whole picture. Read this perspective from the last blog post if you haven’t already. It shares why grass seems to be greener on the other side.
2. Establish a regular gratitude practice
Every time, I talk about gratitude, it may feel like I am beating a dead horse but seriously, this one habit is a cure and prevention for so many of the mindset problems that you must master it!
When you start describing what you are grateful for every day, you bring your focus back to what you have in your life that you want more of. Rather than wondering what others have that you don’t, this will help you a lot more in bringing in more of what YOU want.
What others have may not even be what you want. Gratitude practice will show you daily what YOU really value. That clarity itself will stop you for being greedy about everything out there. 😉
What is important about the gratitude practice is that you share details, and relive the memory by recreating the experience for which you are grateful as much vividly as possible in your mind. When you relive the moment rather than just remembering it, you will be much better off.
3. Do more of what you love
In Hindi, there is a saying:
“Khali sir, shaitan ka ghar”.
That literally means “An empty mind is where devil lives”.
When you have nothing more important to do that productively occupies your mind, you are going to fill your mind with unproductive and negative thoughts that hurt you. That includes worrying, stressing over what’s not in your control, and of course, the topic at hand, unhealthy comparisons to others.
So what’s the action? Occupy yourself in doing what you love, what brings you joy, what makes you happy. It can be a hobby – reading, music, painting, dancing, giving spending more time with your pets – whatever suits your boat.
And do it wholeheartedly. You don’t want to be pretending that you are doing it when all your mind is thinking about is your children or your job or why you don’t have either of those. That’s just you pretending, not really being present in the moment.
What if you don’t know what you love doing?
This happens. I know people who feel this way. They have never really thought about what they actually love.
In that case, take some general direction such as art, science or pets, colors etc. And start experimenting. Enroll for classes that will allow you learn. Check out YouTube videos on topics that interest you and see if you can learn something new on your own.
Experimenting is the only way to discover “YOU”. Bob Dylan said it the best:
“If you are not busy being born, you are busy dying.”
Set an intention to be born again, and follow that intention with dedication.
4. Meditate regularly
And you thought when I mentioned actionable tips, your mindset will change instantly, tomorrow, right?
Sorry, sister (or mister)!
When you want to change a long term pattern in your thinking or behavior, there is no short cut. There is only intention followed by action.
A lot of the answers to our major mindset habits can be resolved by meditation. Why? It quiets your mind. There is so much chatter going on around us and inside of us every single second, that we never stop to think, “What is really important to me?”
“What do I really want?”
There are so many times I have seen people, including myself, running behind what I thought I wanted, only to find out that doesn’t do squat in fulfilling me when I actually get it.
What’s the point of this monkey race?
We really need to get our head clear on our priorities. Once you have that, I assure you, 90% of the time when you see somebody else having something, you wouldn’t even want to have it because you know it’s not for you.
And how do we get clear on these priorities, how do we get that focus? That perspective? Meditation is the best tool I have experienced for this.
Not a short cut for sure, but once you get to it, you will have insights that you never had before about what you truly desire and what your next actions should be to get there. You wouldn’t have time looking at what others are doing because you will be so focused and enthused about your own things to do.
5. Be a solution person, not a problem person
I have written a whole blog post on this. Read it, please! But here’s the gist.
You can either focus on the problems in your life or on solutions to solve those problems. Both the mindsets do not coexist. So it’s one or the other. You pick.
In this context, when you think about what others have and you don’t, you are becoming a problem person. Instead, when you do all of the above or even focus on thinking what you can do to get to where you want to be, and then act on your solutions, you become a solution person. It’s that simple!
When you are a solution person, you are constantly focused your actions and the next moves rather than worrying about others.
6. Just do it!
Just take action! Whether you want to join a new class, discover what you like, considering meditation, just do it!
Rather than thinking too much about it, just take action.
Like Marie Forleo says,
“Clarity comes through engagement, not thought.”
Just engage in whatever it is you are wondering, and get to it. Don’t contemplate too much about it, otherwise you will get back to never acting on it, ever. Back to square one.
So now, it’s your turn:
You can start with any of the above mentioned actions right away. What are you going to act upon today? It can be something I mentioned here or something that came to your mind while reading this. Share in the comments below, and make a commitment to yourself and your fellow readers so that you follow through on your promise.