Tuesday Beauty Tips: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others, and Start Feeling Better About Yourself Now

Published in: Beauty Tips

Your best friend just bought an expensive new luxury car; all of a sudden, your ride looks kinda clunky by comparison.

One of your roommates just got into an Ivy League grad school program; now your day job feels like a total dead end.

Do you ever feel like you’re just standing still while everyone else in your life is hurtling toward a phenomenal and fantastic future?

Welcome to the land of comparing yourself to others.

It can be a dreadful place, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been a resident a multitude of times.

How did we get here?

We’ve been here all along. It’s the world we live in; we’re taught to compare ourselves to others from a very young age.

My parents would say to my little brother, “Study more like your sister,” and they often compared our grades.

Throughout school, kids are encouraged to do better than their peers, and it prompts them to form cliques in which they include/exclude other kids who excel at the same things — athletics (the jocks), academics (the nerds), instrument playing while walking around a field in unison (the band geeks, aka yours truly), etc., etc.

To a degree, it’s a part of life. There can’t be a good job without a bad one to compare it to.

There is simply no comparison

When you’re no longer able to accept your failings and can only see yourself in the context of others, the comparisons have to stop. A distorted self-image might lead you to ignore all of the great things about you — the ways in which you’re different — and focus only on the ways you feel you don’t measure up.

And at the other extreme, an inflated sense of self can drive your friends and family away. Either way, it’s a lonely way to live.

Unlearn this

Here’s the good news (and it is good news): like any habit, constant comparing can be unlearned.

Replace your inner dialogue with a new script. Say, “I’m different from so-and-so, but that doesn’t mean I’m worth any more or less.”

My inner dialogue goes a little something like this: “I’m creative, caring, funny and unique in my own way.” :)

It’s not always easy to remember, but it gets easier with practice.

Do you feel you compare yourself to others too often? I’m guessing I’m not the only one…

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

P.S. The power went out this afternoon, and Tabs and I are playing cards by candlelight, LOL! I hope it’s on by morning…

P.P.S. Have a good night. :)

83 Comments

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  1. Carla says:

    Good stuff. I tend to do this and tell myself I need to be better. I need to start practicing.

  2. Andrea says:

    I feel like I do this more than I should, especially because I’m about to enter my third year of university and am still undecided about what I want in the future. Many of my friends or acquaintances seem to know exactly where they’re headed and what they want, and some already have their dream job/life. This definitely makes me insecure about myself and my decisions, especially with society’s pressure on people to graduate high school, decide right away what path to take in post secondary, and have a perfect job all planned out at the end of it. It’s extremely frustrating and stressful for me!
    (And sorry about the little tangent/rant)!

    • Kim says:

      Andrea, I’m much older than you are but wanted to let you know that you’re far from alone. The majority of people I know had NO idea what their dream job was (and still don’t). So many people change majors in college or go back to school after joining the workforce because they realize they really don’t like the field they chose as much as they thought they would. I agree that seeing people who are so sure of their futures can make you nervous that you’re not sure yourself. But you’re young and have plenty of time to decide. Please don’t feel discouraged. :)

    • Karen says:

      I am with Kim on this one. I think a lot of the pressure put on young folks to “find their perfect career” from a young age is totally unnecessary. Take your time, explore everything, keep your eyes open and you’ll get where you need to be!

    • melissa says:

      andrea, i am in the same boat–except i’m a year older! i should have graduated last year, but it took me some extra time. i, too, have no idea what i want to do. scratch that–i have a MILLION ideas of what i want to do–i just can’t pick one. sometimes it seems that there are so many options, how do you pick the right one? don’t worry. you’re not alone. we just need to find our passion, and let it ignite into a career (though it would be nice if it was still possible to actually GET a job after graduation!) ;)

  3. “Do you ever feel like you’re just standing still while everyone else in your life is hurtling toward a phenomenal and fantastic future?”

    omg, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

    it’s a vicious cycle. i break free enough to feel better about myself and my future, but i’m actually subconsciously keeping a toe in “the land of comparing yourself to others.”

    right now i’m in that part of the cycle where i’m working hard to get out. hopefully this time i can get the cycle to stop.

    thanks for the words of encouragement!
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … Collection Spotlight- Stella McCartney – Fall 2010

  4. marisol says:

    I definitely do and it depending on how you do it, it can be a good or bad thing to do. What I mean is that if you want to compare to other people and strive to be like them then it’s a good thing. It’s a way to motivate yourself. But if you put yourself down then that’s not good for the soul.

    I wonder if my mom was practicing her voodoo and that’s why the lights went out… hahahaha!
    marisol recently posted … Oh London you rocked!

    • Karen says:

      LOL! It was lights OUT for a really long time. When I looked out over the hillside everything was dark! Periodically police sirens would go off in the distance… it kinda felt like armageddon for a second. But no, the power was just out, LOL!

  5. Paris B says:

    First, the picture is tres adorable! Second, thank you for this timely advice. Enjoy the candlelit evening Karen! :D

    • Karen says:

      Hi Paris,

      The power was out all night long! Thankfully it’s back up… I’d be freaking out right now if it wasn’t, LOL!

      Have a great Wednesday.

  6. Tiffany says:

    Great post, Karen!

  7. Cheng says:

    Thanks for the pep talk! I really needed it right now :) I need to come up with convincing things to tell myself!

  8. Lunie says:

    Aw…thank you very much for writing this. In actual fact, I was depressed yesterday when thinking about my job and my love life. And of course, I couldn’t stop comparing myself with my friends who have got married, a high-paid job, etc. But after reading your blog, I feel so much better about myself :)

  9. Natalie says:

    thats great! im the worst at comparing myself! i even broke up with a bf i was so jealous of everything he had! i just keep trying and i am feeling better!

  10. ki says:

    You know what Karen – this applies to beauty as well! In India, everyone is obsessed with being fair to the extent that dark girls are made to feel like nobodies – they sometimes even find it tough to get married! We dusky skinned girls keep trying to remind ourselves that our skin is beautiful too!

    Thanks for this :)
    ki recently posted … Quick tips

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ki,

      There’s something similar that happens in the Filipino community, too. I got a lot of crap while I was growing up for my darker skin color — and mostly from friends and family.

      I’d think that things are changing though. At least now people are willing to talk about it and are more aware.

  11. While I have no brothers or sisters to compare myself to, I do have loads of cousins who all married their college sweethearts, have good jobs, houses, cars, lovely children etc. It’s difficult not to benchmark my own success against their’s all the time. But I have made different choices in life so it really would be like comparing apples to oranges. I think envy and comparision are okay if it encourages you to better yourself i.e. get a better job, go back to college etc. Any time I am jealous of someone I make myself think about why I am feeling that way and I talk about it with James (my fiance), a friend or my mum. It really does help just to unravel these feelings that can destroy an otherwise reasonable person.

  12. Marina says:

    Great post, Karen! And you are right, it’s hard to change but possible! Hope you and Tabs had a great evening :)
    Marina recently posted … Sunday 08072010 Beautiful Reading- Christmas Collections

  13. Advah says:

    Oh yes to all that. I currently feel ‘stuck’. Reasonably happy, but like I need new ideas to keep myself busy, except when I have those ideas I never do much with them… What I’ve learnt is everybody feels stuck pretty much all the time, they’re just pretending they don’t. Not that it really helped me feel better about it..

    I also often think in phases where I’m single that, even though I rather enjoy it, everything would be much better and enjoyable if I had someone to share things with. Then I start seeing someone, get worried about something stupid and feel like ALL couples around me are happy and unworried. Then I realise they probably all are, and I’m apparently a bit crazy! :D

    But yes, I find it difficul to not compare myself to people all the time. Still not sure how to strike the balance between productively criticising myself (actions, decisions, writing, etc) and just bringing myself down unnecessarily.

  14. Kim says:

    Karen, you’re on the money with the kitten photos AND the good advice! :)

    I’m not one to compare and am always grateful for my blessings. However, I certainly know my weak points and admire others who excel where I don’t – people who are naturally good at math and science, gifted in music, great ice skaters… :)

    As you say, there will always be people who have things you don’t. But you’ll always have special gifts that others don’t. If we were all the same, it would be a very one-dimensional world. And, the more people you get to know, the more you find that no one has a perfect life, even those that seem like they do from the outside.

    • Karen says:

      You always make me smile, Kim (LOL regarding the great ice skaters!). :) I bet if we met IRL we’d get along fabulously.

      • Kim says:

        Karen, it’s funny that you say that because I often think the same thing! :) In fact, I thought of you this AM (and this post) while driving to work. I don’t know if you remember the song “Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann, but it was on the radio. When it first came out, I thought it was pretty funny. Today, I almost got misty listening to it because it’s so true. Funny how time changes your perspective! :) Anyway, here’s the link to the lyrics to refresh anyone who, like me, forgot it and also to introduce it to others who don’t know it.

        http://www.lyricscrawler.com/song/3953.html

  15. Carol says:

    Loved your post! You are sensitive, and sweet, besides being a great fellow beauty addict, and cat lover! That’s why I love this blog. Thanks! :)

  16. Nina says:

    I LOVE this post!

    As a kid, I used to do this a lot. My mom was very strict and we really only got stuff that we needed – not much luxuries and non essentials. Id see my classmates have all kinds of newfangled things and would feel like I was missing a lot. Then I realized – we always had food to eat, books to read and time to play outside – and nothing beats that.

    I just learned to be happy with what I do have that way. Counting my blessings always help. :)

    Thank you for posting this, and reminding me that I have a lot to be happy about. ;)

  17. Shiny says:

    Woman, you be reading my mind! Just last night I was looking over some of the housing options for grad school, and all I could keep thinking is ‘am I good enough compared to these talented, interesting people?’ I’ve gotten into a great school, but I keep comparing myself to others and going back to feeling like an awkward teen again.

    One thing I’ve been doing is phrasing my problem as a positive. So rather than, ‘will I fit in with all these cool amazing people’, I’m now trying to say ‘wow I bet I’ll make some great friends here, with all the different kinds of people I’ll meet. What an opportunity!’ – it’s slow going but we’ll get there someday ;)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shiny,

      That’s great advice. I’ve been doing that too and it helps a lot — it turns what I think are problems into opportunities.

      Congrats on getting into your grad school program!

  18. Bridget S. says:

    I try and think in terms of animals, do you think Tabs cares if he is a little paunchier than other cats, his whiskers are not quite as long, his job is going nowhere? He really doesn’t, he snoozes, he enjoys the sunshine and clearly thinks he is one hell of a cat … and he is! : )

  19. Shannon Steele says:

    How nice to hear a message of acceptance and tolerance this morning. You have always been a fave but I have a new respect for you. The work you are doing is important.

  20. Carolina says:

    Great and inspiring post.

  21. Amber says:

    I have gotten better at this as I get older. I went to a high school for academic overachievers and often feel like I don’t measure up when I skim the alumni updates and see so many prestigious titles. But we never know what sacrifices somebody has made to get where they are, and we never know who is looking at *us* with silent envy without comprehending our hardships. I think we will be happiest when we learn to live our most authentic life.
    Amber recently posted … Island treasures

  22. Beth says:

    I love your blog! Of course those who read this blog are into beauty and makeup… So, I think it is such a great reminder, that we all just want to be the best versions of who we are. Compairing ourselves will not do any good…

  23. Suji says:

    I often find myself struggling with this as well. Most of my friends have more education than I do or make more money, but I’m the first within my group of friends to get engaged. I guess everyone can look at another person and be jealous about something, and it’s hard not to compare, but I try to remind myself that everyone is in a different place in life and that’s okay.

    One of my inner scripts is that “life is not about status, money, or power.” It helps me to try not to compare.

  24. Ada says:

    Thanks for the great post. I work in a job where there’s not a lot of money but high job satisfaction and freedom. My friends make a lot more money and have nice stuff to go with it. But some of them also are on high blood pressure meds, and have other health conditions due to the stress of their jobs. I always try to look at the bright side of what I’m doing and what I have, instead of the negatives!

    • Karen says:

      Looking at the positives changes the way the world looks, doesn’t it? :)

      I’m really glad that you have a job that you love… not a lot of people can say they’ve got that.

  25. Chrissy says:

    Whoopsies… my original comment didn’t go through for some reason so I apologize in advance if it suddenly appears later! :(

    Thanks for another GREAT post Karen!

    I used to compare myself to others all.the.time. What a downer that was – no matter what I did or how hard I worked, there was always someone that was better than I was at something. But, with age, and growing maturity, I have taught myself to do this less and less. There are still days when I find myself feeling down because I’m not the best at something, but usually now I’m able to recognize those feelings and realize what’s happening before my self-esteem gets too bruised.

    There’s a saying that I really like that goes something like “if God wanted us all to be the same, he would have made us that way.” After all, wouldn’t the world be boring if we WERE all the same as one another?
    Chrissy recently posted … A present for me!!! Wooohooo!

  26. Trude says:

    Yes! You’re so right! We’re ALL guilty of this, in one way or another. Currently I’m trying really hard not to compare myself to other photogs, positively or negatively. We’re all unique, and there really isn’t a comparison! :) Thanks for another great post.

  27. Sarah says:

    I LOOOOOOVE this post and will be sharing it on Twitter! I probably need to read it once a day. I have learned that if I can stop myself from comparing myself to others, I am in such a better place.

    I do have triggers, though…fancy cars that other moms (stay-at-home moms, too!) drive…big fat wedding ring rocks on said SAHMs…ugh…

    When I’m at my worst, I can’t even talk myself out of the comparisons. Something deep and nasty in my brain then tells me that I’m only lying to myself trying to make myself feel better. But when I can keep the comparisons at bay, I am at my best and am much more happy and satisfied with my own life.

    Thanks again for the post!!!! LURV!!!!
    Sarah recently posted … cutting room floor 8-7-10

  28. Anna says:

    Thanks for that Karen. We sometimes forget we live in a world full of comparisions and its easy to feel down about ourselves if we feel we dont measure up. As my mum says, theres always a mountain higher than another. Dont beat yourself up comparing. Everyone is unique in their our way.

  29. Katrina says:

    This is something I really need to work on. And its hard. I have really terrible self esteem, and I always have (since puberty at least!). I’m so amazingly critical of myself. I delete almost all pictures taken of me because I’ve gained weight, while it seems everyone around me has lost significant amounts of weight. I have a very difficult situation, but I still can’t seem to stop comparing myself to others. Its a rough road I need to get off of, thats for sure

  30. ace says:

    i feel kind of guilty for interrupting this, but OH. EM. GEE those kittens are SOOOOO cute!!!!

  31. Trisha says:

    I agree times a million. The most important thing you can ever do is be happy with who you are right at this moment. It’s good to want to improve, but you should like yourself as you are as well.
    Trisha recently posted … 26 Mantras for Powerful Self-Esteem

  32. Mani says:

    Hey Karen,
    First of all, love your blog…and I love Tabs :) You’re soo creative with him…it makes my day!
    This post couldn’t have been better timed on your part. I just got out of a long and serious relationship and I keep feeling like everyone around me is happy and coupled and I’m just all alone. But, you know what, I’ve got a lot going for me, and your post helped me to see that…along with my awesome support system of friends and fam.
    Thanks a million,
    Mani :)

  33. Carolina says:

    That is just what I needed to see right now! I have friends getting into med school, going to law school, and I have no idea what I want to do. I am perfectly happy going along on my journey however and stoked to graduate from UCLA this year. Btw, so awesome that your were a band geek! I was drum major in the mb my senior year of high school ;)

  34. Dani says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I had a pretty crap day and this was just what I needed to snap me out of my funk :)

  35. Michelle H says:

    Right on Karen! Perfect timing for this! I’ve also learned that I can’t compare myself (my body, really) to what I looked like in the past! Sure I’ve let myself go some (after baby), but I can’t keep comparing myself now, to what I looked like in high school. I need to love myself, including my body, for what it is now…so that when I’m ready to make changes, it’s because I want to make them to feel good about myself, rather than just to look better. Love your blog, girl!

  36. Kerry says:

    great advice karen! I’ve unfortunately doing this a lot lately–it’s time to kick the habit!

  37. Stacey says:

    One of my favorite things about this blog is that most of your beauty tips focus on inner beauty, and I find that both necessary and refreshing. :)

  38. Phyrra says:

    Thanks for posting this. Really nice words of advice.

  39. Cain says:

    Karen,
    Thanks for this post!
    I am currently going through interior design school, and EVERYTHING we do is constantly being watched, critiqued, and compared to our peers.
    I have to keep telling myself “design is completely subjective, just because this person doesn’t like my design doesn’t mean someone else won’t”.
    Its hard to keep my spirits up when the environment is so competitive.
    That’s why make up is such a nice escape! Thanks for the encouragement!

  40. shugal says:

    Excellent advice!! I have a bracelet that I wear all the time. inscribed on it is:” Love Who You Are”.
    It took me a long time to try and do that…I still sometimes ‘forget’ to do what my bracelet says…it’s not an easy thing to do..but if you can..it’s very rewarding.

    Did Tabs win at cards? lol.

  41. Petra says:

    Thank You for these types of posts, Karen! I honestly love to read through the comments, it feels like a community of strong, kind and dear people (women :)), and it truly makes me aware that my fears, problems are common, and I’m not alone with them.

    I can really relate to the university-what to do with my life comments, I’m about to finish uni and although I have a job (at an IT company), I feel like both my school and job are kinda…mismatched, not what I want to do.
    But I keep reasurring myself that I’m young and I can try different things, and life is about finding these things out and changing your desires. :)

    Also, I think it realy helps to meet new people and incorporate these new views into your life (I have a small group of close friends who don’t change, though) – You never know when you meet a lifestyle, a job-idea, anything which you’ll realise: this is something I might wanna do too.

  42. Rachel says:

    I found this post very helpful and comforting esp after the day I had yesterday. I need to stop comparing myself to others, browbeating myself, basically I just need to be all around nicer to myself lol. Have a good day Karen.

  43. Redhead says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this. Ironically enough, I had a voice lesson last night, and afterwards I couldn’t stop comparing myself to my sister (even though our voices are completely different – I’m a high lyric soprano and she’s a lightly dramatic mezzo! COMPLETELY different!) because our teacher keeps lauding the changes and breakthroughs in her voice, and not giving me anywhere near as much attention. After reading this, I realized I don’t need to be jealous, because you just can’t compare our voices. We’re equally talented, and our teacher has rightfully been giving her attention because her voice HAS drastically changed.

  44. Melissa says:

    Karen,

    This post could not have come at a more perfect time for me.

    Thank you so much for helping me smile today.

    P.S. I love your blog
    P.P.S.This is my first comment!
    P.P.P.S. I’m an aspiring CCL so the picture on this post is melting my heart. SO CUTE

  45. iLyma says:

    I know you have so many readers, but I love how each of your posts, whether it’s on beauty or just life, feels personal.
    I just graduated from college and am working finding a new job, a new place to live, new internship, and still taking a class so it’s hard not to struggle and feel so incompetent next to my successful friends or against the star-players I come across.
    Thanks for the peptalk and morale boost!

  46. Saku says:

    So true words. Even though I tell myself not to compare. I sometimes get in the habit of doing it. But love the cute kittens picture.

  47. Cherie says:

    OMG so true. I often feel like I’m standing still or taking very tiny steps towards my future while everybody is rushing past me and making leaps. Thank you for this post – first off, it reminds me that I am not alone and secondly, it makes me snap my head out of it :)

    And the kittens are awesome :)

  48. Maya says:

    Great post!

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