If you're a person who cares about how you perform, chances are you have compared your performance to someone else's. You don't even have to be competing in a sport. Chances are, if you're on Instagram, or Facebook, or Snapchat, or you interact with people at all who do the same things you do, you've come across a video, a photo, or a person that made you feel a little sick inside; or at the very least, unsettled. Chances are, you've made the mistake of comparing yourself to others. Maybe it looked something like this:
"I can't believe he lifted that much! I'll never be that strong..."
"He looks so good. He's lost so much weight and he looks so happy. Maybe there's something wrong with me..."
"Holy shit, she finished her TPS report in how long?! Maybe I'm not cut out for this..."
I could go on; you know what I'm talking about... Social media makes it easier than ever for us to compare ourselves to others —it's natural to do this, of course—to compare ourselves to an image polished to portray the subject's best self. Maybe this can fuel the fire and provide a little motivation to keep grinding on the process. But, comparing ourselves to others can also take the wind out of our sails, making us feel deflated and inadequate.
If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, and feeling a little crummy about it, here's what you could do instead:
1) Recognize that you have unique talents and abilities. There is only 1 you. You are unique. The sum of your experiences makes up who you are, and those are uniquely yours. Your trials and tribulations, your successes and victories. They all make up who you are. No one else has THAT.
2) Recognize your OWN journey, and celebrate the smallest successes. Milo of Croton didn't wake up one day and put an ox on his back. He started when he was a child, with a calf. As the calf grew, so did Milo's strength, so that he could carry it easily when it became a full-grown ox. Celebrate when your "calf," grows by an ounce. Search for the tiny improvements and celebrate them. Before you know it, you'll have the proverbial "ox" on your back, too.
3) Look back and look forward; recognize how far you've come, considering your own unique circumstances. It's easy to lose sight of the giant leaps and bounds that we've made, or discount our own successes and growth when comparing ourselves to others. Remind yourself of your own path, and recognize your journey.
Sometimes, life throws curveballs at you. Maybe, if you're a 40 year old mother of three, you shouldn't be comparing yourself to a 25 year old who has never had kids, and has practiced gymnastics since she was 4. Be realistic about the expectations you have for yourself. Shoot for the stars, AND honor your life and body.
When life serves you inevitable limitations, find other ways to grow. Find ways to be uniquely YOU. Walk your path with pride, and celebrate your small successes. After a while, you may find that all of those little things add up to something really big.