One of my most unhelpful behaviours is comparing myself to those around me. I suppose it’s a lack of confidence more than anything but it does enhance my anxiety.
I often look at those around me who are a similar age and wonder how it is they’re so different to me, both as a person and how they’re in a completely different place to me in terms of their overall life.
For example, my girlfriend is in theatre, therefore I go to a lot of her shows and I mix with a lot of her theatre mates. Now, my experience of ‘theatre people’ is that they’re very outgoing and passionate about what they do. On the other hand, I feel like I’m very reserved in comparison, but rather than simply accept that’s just the kind of person I am, I think “why can’t I be like them?”. And that really isn’t a useful thought because it makes me start to think that there must be something wrong with me or maybe I’m just boring.
That’s the kind of thought process that affects pretty much my whole life if I let it. At work, with my friends or even at home with my family – it doesn’t seem to matter where I am, I have to really try and keep on top of my thoughts to stop it from affecting me.
It doesn’t help that the age we live in seems to almost enforce comparison with others. Take social media for example – it’s essentially people talking about the best moments in their lives, which of course isn’t a bad thing in itself – by all rights, celebrate your life! – but it can be particularly unnerving for someone with no confidence to see others having a great life whilst they’re not enjoying theirs one bit.
Although it’s always there, I find the best way to try and deal with those feelings of anxiety is to alter the way I’m comparing myself to others. Instead of thinking “why can’t I be like them?” or “why didn’t I say that?”, I try the angle of “I’m doing this in a completely original way” or “I said something that no-one else did.” After all, I always think that change comes from those that think differently, not those that join the queue of like-minded thinkers.