You know how it goes. You’re scrolling through Instagram when suddenly you start to feel immensely unattractive;
“I wish I had money to buy clothes like that” .. “I need lip fillers too” … “I wish I looked like her/him”.
You post something on Twitter which no one responds to, so you begin to think you’re not as interesting or witty as you thought – especially compared to those people you follow who always get hundreds of likes and retweets; “They’re clearly better at this than me, no one really gives a shit about what I have to say. Why do I even bother?”
You see someone you know on Facebook who has just announced success in a field that you are struggling in, or someone who – compared to you – is doing far more with their life;
“Fuck, I’m in my mid twenties, I have no degree and nothing to show for my life so far. I will never be successful.” Comparing yourself to other people in life is bad enough, but in the digital age the inadequacy can feel amplified.
Grappling with these empty feelings can be hugely dejecting. If you’ve ever felt this way – and I know I have, there’s something you need to come to terms with in order to have those negative thoughts slide off your mind like Teflon: No one is better than you, because you are the only one of you in existence. No one is better than you, because you are you.
Once you realise the weight of that, you won’t ever feel like you’re in competition with anyone else – only yourself.
If someone else is doing notably well in their life, it’s usually because they’re being the best version of themselves they can possibly be; they are ignoring the noise around them and are tuned into their own station. They know that someone else’s success is not their failure. They have not fallen victim to the common problem of the ‘scarcity mindset’; namely they do not think there is only a limited amount of opportunity available for everyone. They do not think there is only a certain number of jobs to be filled, music to be made, films to be cast, books to be written, businesses to succeed – whatever. They know that the Universe creates infinite opportunities for us all and the only limitations they have are the ones they place on themselves. It doesn’t matter if that person you know scored a job you really wanted, or if someone you know has achieved more than you and they are far younger. Ultimately it’s all irrelevant in the face of your own relationship with yourself.
I used to worry about what people thought of me, all.of.the.time. I’d let Facebook likes and Instagram hearts speak for how funny or attractive I was. If something I thought was hilarious didn’t get the response I’d hoped for, I’d take it really hard on myself and let the small jury of my social network decide that my opinions weren’t valid. I have no issues admitting to that now – because caring about what other people think of me isn’t in my set of priorities – my relationship with myself is all I care about. If someone thinks I’m not funny or interesting, that’s their subjective opinion – it is not THE opinion. People get so wrapped up in the tiny world of their social networks that they fail to realise how many people there are out there in the actual world. It’s illogical to aim your work at the small pond of your social connections and then become discouraged if you fail to get a response. Why are you exclusively focusing on that small pond and what they think? Think bigger! There are billions of people in the World who could potentially appreciate your work. There will always be people who don’t like what it is you put out, but that doesn’t matter. My boyfriend always tells me if you reach even one person then you are doing something right, and I agree. The satisfaction should always come from knowing that you put heart into something and you are proud of yourself for doing it. If people like your work, awesome. But don’t ever look to other people to validate your achievements. Validate yourself.
I think it’s funny how someone can be a huge celebrity in one country, but a complete unknown in another. Does this mean that this person is suddenly worthless and of no value, just because people don’t know who they are? Of course not, because people don’t give you your value. You give yourself your value. How you value yourself is everything.
Maybe there’s a dream you desperately want to achieve in life and you see that someone else is living your exact dream. Maybe you get a little jealous in response to this, or you just stay fixated on your own stagnant progress – or lack thereof. Spending that time and energy into watching someone else’s achievements unfold won’t bring you any closer to that dream, and that person definitely didn’t get there by paying attention to anyone else but themselves. You need to put that energy into your own life. As long as you are doing something every day that contributes to you achieving your goals, you never need to worry about a lack of progress. The things you do every day will add up over weeks, months and years and you will get there. Success isn’t an instant thing, but that’s okay. Any person of note you admire has failed many times on the path to their success. It’s normal, it’s part of the journey and it’s character building. To fail is to know you are trying. I would rather know I am trying, than know that I am doing nothing at all.
If I see someone I know achieve something, I am always happy for them. Truly! It proves to me that the Universe does create infinite opportunity for everyone, and it excites me. Look at where they are now, who knows where I could be in a few years! Nothing is impossible for anyone. I don’t see it as a reflection of how far I haven’t come, because I know everyone’s journey in life is different. If I want something in life, it’s up to me to go for it. If you value yourself highly, other people will perceive you that way. You need to truly believe the World needs whatever it is you have to offer, not that you need people to tell you what you are or aren’t.
I know a lack of confidence can be the barrier between going for what it is you want in life, so to pump up your self-esteem try writing down some affirmations and repeating them to yourself in the morning and at night. You need to affirm to yourself the person you know you are, so it will counteract all of those negative thoughts that keep you stuck in a rut. You can do this by prefixing them with ‘I am’ e.g,
‘I am confident and motivated’
‘I am driven and determined’
‘I am accepting of my past’
‘I am beautiful and intelligent’
‘I am growing everyday’
‘I am achieving my dreams’
Affirmations are simple, but they work. One of the main reasons why the negative thoughts we have about ourselves seem to be more prevalent in our minds is because we have been thinking them so long that they have just become familiar neural pathways, and our brain defaults into those thinking patterns. You have the power to rewire your brain and you can change your negative thinking, and effectively how you see yourself. Rewiring your negative thoughts to positive affirmations you have set will greatly improve your self worth, and you’ll finally understand why the value you give yourself is the only one that matters.
The next time you get caught up comparing yourself to other people, ask yourself ‘Is this helping me to reach my own goals?’ And if it’s not, go do something that is! It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing – period. The only thing that matters is what YOU are doing, and the only opinion that matters is the one you have of YOURSELF. Ignore the background noise and remember that no one is ever better than you, because you are you, and you are the best at being you.
– Aisling Abbey