Stop wanting what others have and start embracing who you’d like to become
How is that person able to have that and I can’t? Where did I go wrong?
Sound familiar at all?
Do you, perhaps, remember hearing those words in your own mind or even saying them aloud at some point in your life?
I think we all have… if we’re being honest.
Hold up, there’s good news.
Fortunately, comparing yourself to others is a natural part of being human. According to Social Comparison Theory, a notion put forward in 1954 by a psychologist by the name of Leon Festinger, comparing is how we establish our standing in the world – how we determine who’s ahead of us and who’s behind – in our opinion. If we perceive that someone else is doing better, it may carry the benefit of motivating us to stretch for more. And if this person is only doing slightly better, we tend to feel even more encouraged that reaching for it is likely to produce results. The act of wanting something that another has is ultimately a sign of a deeper need or value within oneself that has arisen from the subconscious and should now be addressed in order to feel better.
But wait, not so fast.
The downside to comparing yourself to another arises when you feel negative emotion toward this other person that has what you believe you should have. And to make matters worse, if what you want seems significantly out of the range of attainability, you’re likely to feel discouraged that you could ever have it. Coveting something that someone else has and believing that you’ll never be able to have it can be an emotionally difficult experience. Especially when it causes you to feel animosity toward the person that has what you want, causing you to feel both less than your best and disconnected from the person at the same time. Both responses are painful, and neither will get you closer to feeling happy about yourself.
We all want to be happy!
Which is why having a greater understanding of this quite common issue and how to use it to your advantage is a worthy topic of consideration. Simply telling yourself to stop measuring yourself against another is an unrealistic proposition. There will always be someone further along or someone further behind you in terms of body fitness, wealth, education, career advancement, quality of relationships and social connections – to name a few. But you can learn to use what you observe about your place in life to your benefit – as a way to help you learn about yourself – what’s going on inside you – and as a way to entice yourself forward toward your interests and passions. It’s not about them after all, it’s about you.
And remember this truth, we’re all exactly where we’re meant to be in any particular moment anyway. Every experience has value, no matter how undesirable it may feel in the moment. Appreciating that and knowing that if we can learn from others around us, we can then make a plan and begin the changes required to have our version of what another has. We should do it in our own unique way so that we don’t try to become exactly like them, but rather more of whom we truly want to be as a result of seeing what was possible through the good example of another.
“Every minute you spend wishing you had someone else’s life is a minute spent wasting yours. – Unknown
Let’s be honest, shall we?
Who are the people that trigger envy or jealousy in you – those people that seem to have a better family environment, more romance, are the ideal neighbors, are climbing the professional ladder with ease, are invited to all the best parties or are in excellent physical health and live in the most stylish home? I can almost be certain that someone popped into your mind as you read this. Who in your life causes you to feel uncomfortable when they show up because you find yourself sizing them up? And instead of enjoying their friendship you’re silently wondering why them and not you? If only you had a nickel for every time that happened, am I right?
Begin a new practice today
Grab a piece of paper and write that person’s name down. Next to her name write down what she has that you don’t, but wish you did. Go on, be honest with yourself.
Now, open your heart and genuinely wish her well for all that she has attained in life. Believe that she truly deserves what she has. And when you feel sufficiently certain that you can embrace your new feelings toward her, turn your attention to the question, “How can I go about having my version of that which the other person has?”
How would you need to change in order to have it? Would it truly satisfy your personal values? If yes, then what are you waiting for? Get after it. Take the first step toward getting it.
And let the other person remain a timely and helpful example of what’s also possible for you.
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