You’re up early one morning searching for jobs on LinkedIn when a new notification pops up. Your best friend from college just got promoted to Vice President at the same company where he’s spent the last ten years. Meanwhile, you’ve just been laid off from your most recent position—the fourth job you’ve held in that same timeframe. Even though you both graduated in the same year with the same degree, your careers went in distinctly different directions. Instantly, you feel resentful. You ask yourself, “Why not me?” Yet, this reaction is not uncommon. According to a recent study, more than 75% of people reported feeling envious of someone in the last year. Comparing yourself to others can leave you feeling frustrated and anxious. But it doesn’t help in creating the life you want. Instead, it just takes away valuable time and energy that could have been spent on building a successful career. Here are five healthy and practical ways to end the jealousy game and take your power back.
Identify specific triggers
If you want to stop comparing yourself to others, determine when envy rears its ugly head. Is it when you’re scrolling through LinkedIn or your Instagram feed? Or maybe when you hear your best friend bragging about a salary increase? Use these observations to learn about yourself. Then make a list of who and what you frequently envy or compare yourself to. Write how these feelings negatively impact you, and why they are a waste of your time. Resolve to become more vigilant so that you can catch yourself in the future.
Commit yourself to gratitude
It is almost impossible to experience negative emotions when we are thankful for what we have. To stop comparing yourself to others, consider starting a gratitude journal. Take a few moments (preferably at the beginning of the day) to write down all the things you’re thankful for. Another fun idea that can involve the whole family is to create a gratitude jar. Find a jar, decorate it, and every day think of at least three things you’re grateful for. Write each down on a slip of paper and insert them into the jar. Soon, you’ll have a whole host of reasons to be grateful. When you find yourself slipping into those feelings of self-doubt, read a few notes from the jar to remind yourself about the positive things in your life.
Document your achievements
When comparing yourself to others, you focus on their strengths and ignore your own. So, go ahead and make a list of your achievements. It doesn’t matter what they are, big or small, as long as they are something you’re proud of. If you ace a project at work, record it. If you help a friend in a crisis, add it. If you drag yourself to the gym on a morning you didn’t want to go, write it down. Include everything you can think of. Then reflect on that list and post it somewhere where you can see it every day.
Embrace the competition
It can be helpful to view people you envy as allies rather than threats. If you avoid people that trigger self-comparison, you may miss out on how those successful people can help you. Think about what you can learn from them. Approach them and ask them for advice. Instead of feeling jealous, use their achievements as motivation. Who are the people you most admire that are making a difference in the world? Reach out to them to find inspiration so you can become a better person.
Be your own best friend
Often, we treat others better than we treat ourselves. Start by examining your self-talk. Are you self-critical during those moments you compare yourself to others? The first step in being your own best friend is to stop beating yourself up. Stop and ask yourself, “Would I say these things to someone I care about?” Then start acknowledging and appreciating your own unique talents and abilities.
Remember, there will always be someone more attractive, intelligent or successful. The trick is knowing the unique value of what you bring to the table. Whenever you focus on what other people have that you don’t, you give away your power. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So, take back your power. Decide that your energy will be used for believing in yourself and creating the life you deserve.