We live in a world that causes us to constantly compare ourselves to others. Whether we are scrolling through social media or looking at the latest 40 under 40 list, it is so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to other people. When we compare ourselves to others, we often end up feeling like we aren’t good enough and we start thinking that if we could just talk like them and look like them, we would be happy, loved, and accepted. In this post, I will help you to understand how comparing yourself to others holds you back and share three steps to identify and start contributing your gifts to the world.
I believe that low self-worth is both a symptom and a cause of comparing ourselves to others. When we compare ourselves to others and we end up on the bottom of that comparison, we feel unworthy. Also, when we feel unworthy, we are more likely to compare ourselves to others and look for evidence that we need to be like someone else in order to be worthy. Comparing ourselves to others can leave us in a cycle of feeling unworthy that’s tough to get out of.
What is heartbreaking about this is that when we are caught up in comparison and feeling unworthy we often try to fly under the radar and hold ourselves back from truly contributing our gifts to the world. In the midst of all of this comparing, we can forget that our communities, friendships, families, workplaces, and schools are enriched by having all different kinds of people in them. No work team or educational environment is improved by having a bunch of people who are exactly the same and there is research showing that teams with members from diverse backgrounds produce better work.
When we compare ourselves to others, we may start to believe that we need to be exactly the same as someone we admire in order to be good enough or successful. If you try to be just like someone else, the world misses out on the unique gifts and talents you have to offer. Imagine if every flower was a rose, or if every tree was an oak tree. Imagine if every song was an RnB song, or if every movie was a drama. The world would feel dull if everything was the same, we value and appreciate the diversity in nature, in our entertainment, and throughout our lives but we lose sight of this when we are thinking about ourselves.
The way to combat this comparison is to focus on your strengths and gifts that want to contribute to the world. Next, I am going to share three steps that will help you get out of the cycle of comparison.
Identify your strengths
Take some time to think about what your strengths are. Often our strengths are things that come easily, things we do naturally without thinking about it. Because of this, it can sometimes be hard to recognize our strengths. Think about what you are good at; what do people affirm you for or often ask you to do? For example, are you a good listener? Are you a good writer? A powerful speaker? Are you empathic? Do you ask great questions? Are you a wiz with numbers? Do you organize things well? Remember that your strengths do not have to be grand and that you don’t have to be the best at something to acknowledge your strength or gift in that area.
If you are having trouble identifying your strengths, consider talking with a close friend, loved one, or colleague about the strengths that they see in you.
Own your strengths
So often we disavow our strengths in an attempt to be humble but it doesn’t benefit anyone if we do not embrace our strengths. When we diminish our gifts and strengths, we miss out and the world misses out. Once you have identified some of your strengths I want you to own your strengths. When someone affirms you for your strengths, graciously thank them without rejecting their affirmation. When you have shared your gift in a situation and feel the power of connecting to your strengths, allow yourself to soak in that positive feeling and offer yourself gratitude for how you contributed to the situation. Owning your strengths is not arrogant, it allows your true nature to shine and helps you to connect to the things that make life meaningful.
Share your strengths
Once you have identified and owned your strengths, consider how you would like to share them in the spaces you are in. Would you like to ask thoughtful questions during team meetings or offer yourself as a person that colleagues can talk with when they need a listening ear? Instead of worrying about the possibility of making a mistake or how others might judge you, see if you can focus on how you want to contribute your strengths and gifts at work, school, and other situations. Remember that you do not have to be perfect to share your gifts, you can share your strengths and make mistakes. When you shift your focus from concerns about not being good enough to what you can contribute, you will likely feel more empowered and confident entering that situation.
I hope this blog post has inspired you to get out of the cycle of comparison and move into a space where you are owning and sharing your gifts and strengths with the world. I encourage you to take the time to write down your strengths and how you would like to share them in the places where you work and learn. Having this list will also be helpful during times when you get caught up in comparing yourself because you can return to the list to remember that you do have something to contribute.