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How to Stop Comparing and Start Enjoying

shutterstock_192268793Around the holidays, I notice that people compare themselves more to others.  It’s because this is a time of year when people’s lives seem to be on greater display.  You see other people’s Christmas cards, you see their Facebook and Instagram posts, and all those tidings of comfort and joy can send you down the rabbit hole of depression.

So if you’re getting stuck on the comparison merry-go-round, here’s how to get off.

1)  Know when to log off.
There’s an easy way to tell: If you like looking around on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, keep it up; if you look around and use other people’s happy sentiments as a way to pummel yourself and say that everyone else is better than you, LOG OFF IMMEDIATELY.

Often when you’re feeling down or depressed, you might seek out things (subconsciously or inadvertently) that reinforce that.  You feel like you’re less than others, and you scan the horizon for confirmation of that.

Recognize that urge when it rears its head, and resist.  It’s not the season for self-flagellation.

2)  Consider whether your image of others is actually based in reality.
Sometimes we see strangers grinning at each other and holding hands and we think, “They’re so in love, why can’t I have that?” or “My husband is never that way with me.”

The truth is, you have no idea whether that moment is representative of that couple’s relationship.  They could have had a knock down/drag out fight that morning and be in make-up/honeymoon phase.

That’s the problem with comparing yourself: The comparisons are, by their nature, inaccurate.  We don’t have full access to other people’s lives, but really, only snippets.  Those snippets can paint a false picture, one that leaves out all the negativity and struggles.  Meanwhile, you know everything about your own life, warts and all.

So try remembering that next time–that you’re always taking other people’s lives out of context.

3)  Don’t idealize or devalue others; this only hurts your relationship.
When we hold an unbalanced idea of other people, it can engender resentment.  It can create distance between us and the people we love and care about.  So instead of swinging between the poles, focus on your relationships with other people.  Foster positive connections with them, rather than getting lost in private thoughts about them.

The time you spend in comparison is better spent in furthering your relationships.  That’s valuable energy wasted.

4)  Work on your positive self-regard.
If you admire something in others, try to emulate it, rather than seething about it.  The more you do this, the happier you’ll feel with who you are and how you’re engaging in your life.

Woman on computer image available from Shutterstock.

How to Stop Comparing and Start Enjoying

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). How to Stop Comparing and Start Enjoying. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Dec 2014
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