This was first published on ksl.com
I feel inferior to almost everyone I know. If we go out with people, I spend the whole time wishing I could be more like this person or that one. I compare myself constantly, even though I know it is creating problems and I wish I could stop. I also have a tendency to be critical of others, though, too. I find myself feeling inferior to someone at first, and then looking for bad in them so I can feel better. Could you give me any advice on how to stop my mind from going there, and how to be happy with who I am and not compare so much?
We are so glad you asked this question, because the truth is, we all compare ourselves with others, and it isn’t serving any of us. If the comparing ends with you feeling you might be better than someone else in the room, though it may give your ego a temporary boost, it isn’t really a win. We believe letting the ego feel superior to others in the end means being a person you don’t really want to be, and it will hurt you in the end.
We want you to understand why human beings play these games of comparing and dividing ourselves from other people. We believe this behavior is rooted in our trying to cope with our deepest, darkest core fear — the fear of failure (not being good enough). A fear that, by the way, every one of us battles, to some degree, every day. And it is a painful fear, too. To make matters worse, there is a voice in your head that wants you to constantly compare yourself to others, which finds you lacking most of the time.
Thinking negatively about yourself is so painful that you are constantly, subconsciously, looking for ways to quiet or quell it. You will latch onto anything that works, even temporarily.
One of the techniques that most of us subconsciously use, is something we call the “Shame and Blame Game.” The way it works is the more shame (fear of failure) you experience, the more you will look for bad in others and focus on their bad qualities, temporarily making yourself feel better. Most of the time, though, you don’t consciously realize you doing this to make yourself feel better. But that is what is happening.
Another common technique to quiet your fear (that mankind has been using since the dawn of time) has to do with dividing ourselves from other people so we can see “us” as the good ones and “them” as the bad ones. We will use anything and everything to do this. We divide ourselves into groups based on race, religion, country, which sports team we cheer for (the blue or the red), which cola we drink (Coke or a Pepsi), or which sandwich spread we prefer (mayonnaise or Miracle Whip). Any difference, no matter how significant or insignificant, will do if we can justify a reason why our way is the right one and those guys are wrong or worse.
This gets worse when we do it in groups. The other people who agree with you seem to validate your feelings of superiority, hate or prejudice against “them,” and the division furthers. If you think about it, this one tendency is responsible for most of the problems on the planet. Many times a group of people thinks they are better than another group.
Do you judge others? Do you find fault in the people who intimidate you (or make you feel less than,) so you can pull them down to your level or below and feel better? Are you be prone to gossip or speaking ill of others? Is there any chance your tendency to do this is driven by your fear and insecurities?
We want to explain this tendency to you, so you can get conscious of the techniques you might use to quiet your fear.
Here are 5 ways to change your thinking, quiet your fear, and embrace who you are, so you can stop comparing yourself to others:
1. Change the way you determine the value of all human beings.
We recommend you change your subconscious belief that human value can go up or down, and that worth is based on your performance and appearance (which is your current system at the subconscious level). Instead, embrace a policy that says all human beings have the same intrinsic, unchangeable value.
We found if you change the foundational principle upon which you base the value of all human beings you will, over time, approach the point where it applies to you, too, and your fear of failure will shrink. You will start to believe you are good enough, because you can’t be less than others if we all have the same value.
2. Use the new policy as a reminder that divisions mean we are different, but still equal in value.
The reality is everyone is different. You are one-of-a-kind and there will never be another human like you again. These differences make life interesting and exciting. How boring would it be if we were all the same?
These differences also provide interesting and important lessons for us in tolerance and acceptance, and they stretch the limits of our love and compassion. They do not separate us by value. Every day, practice seeing others as different but equal.
3. Focus on your strengths.
You might not have the talents, body size or intelligence others have, but you do have something. We all do. You have something you are good at. The trick is to stop trying to be different, or have what others have, and just do you. Be the best you.
4. Claim your faults but remember they don’t change your value.
Yes, there are some things you aren’t good at. I’ve had to face the facts that I’m not a woman with talents in the area of hair and make-up. I struggle to put a stylish outfit together and am more comfortable in jeans than a fancy dress. Most of my life, I’ve looked at the beautiful women with flawless style and perfect hair and assigned myself much less value.
Now I own my faults fully, and have decided every day to do my best to get dressed and fix my hair. Then I tell myself this isn’t really my thing, so I better go out there and get them with my love instead. I’m better at that. No one is good at everything, so own your weaknesses, work on them, but don’t let them affect your value.
5. Give up judgment so you can claim infinite value for yourself, too.
There is one catch with choosing a policy that says all human beings have the same value: You must give up judgment if you want this policy change to work. You cannot keep casting other people as not good enough (gossiping or thinking bad of them) and still see your own value as infinite and absolute.
If you keep judging others, you are giving power to the old belief system that people can be not enough. If you give power to that belief, you will never buy it for yourself either, and your self-esteem will continue to suffer. If you want to feel rock solid about your own value, you must give up judgment and let everyone around you have infinite, unchangeable value too.
We have found if you work on these five things, the need to compare and critique others diminishes quickly. Once you embrace the idea that your value can’t change, you will see that much of what others do, or wear or say, has no effect on you whatsoever. You will find you can then allow them to be who they are, and focus on rocking it at being you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the master coaches behind claritypointcoachin.com and 12shapes com where they help families, individuals and companies improve all their relationships.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.