When “comparisonitis” is a good thing!

Published by Hayley Gillard on

Do you ever feel left behind by the successes and achievements of others? If comparisonitis has wobbled you before then I promise you’re NOT alone! But what if it’s actually a GOOD thing to compare yourself to others?

Comparisonitis and human behaviour

We so often tell ourselves that it’s bad to compare yourself to others and that it’s something we should try to avoid. I’m going to help you to see why comparing yourself to others is actually really normal and natural; and how comparisonitis can be a POSITIVE influence on you!

Yes, it CAN be detrimental to mindset when we compare ourselves to others. But let me shed a bit of light on WHY we do this, because a bit of understanding about what’s going on in your head, and where that behaviour is coming from, can be really helpful here.

As human beings we’re social creatures who learn by looking at what others around us are doing. We originate from tribal communities where our human connections were key to our survival. We had to watch and learn from those around us in order to feed ourselves and stay safe. Finding ways to impress tribal chiefs was also important to staying part of the tribe and receiving its protection. We’ve evolved to count on the ways and opinions of others and this is COMPLETELY NORMAL human behaviour that’s hard-wired into us from birth.

That’s because human babies learn from watching their primary caregivers and judging responses, behaviour and interactions. A baby displays behaviour it wants its parents to affirm – or otherwise – which is how it learns what’s socially acceptable. When we’re infants we imitate our parents and the people around us in order to develop, learn and grow. And through this process we learn about emotional responses, interaction and social cohesion. The basis to this behaviour is totally normal as an adult as well – it’s just the boundaries are a bit different, because we’re more advanced and experienced in life.

SO when you consider the evolutionary and behavioural influences that we are the products of, can you see how an attitude of “I don’t care what other people think” might NOT be logical? Whether it’s your nearest and dearest or the customers of your business, taking feedback from watching others and learning from external validation is ESSENTIAL to how we grow, shape and mould.

How we process information from our comparisons – where it can go wrong!

Here’s where comparisonitis can hold us back and be detrimental to our confidence and wellbeing… Secondary emotional responses can lead to negative self-judgement that’s based on something which is beyond the reality of what’s in front of us.

And it doesn’t help that in our disconnected, modern day lives it can be harder to establish the true reality because we often only see the things that people WANT us to see. Social media makes this worse because of the incomplete picture that it shows – the highlight reel, if you like. I guarantee you that EVERYONE else is struggling with their own things, and yet we judge ourselves against that polished version and begin to believe the narrative of “everyone else is ahead of me”. So what we’re doing is judging ourselves harshly against others’ highlight reels. When we’re wobbling or vulnerable that can be particularly harmful to our self-belief.

How to make comparisonitis a positive influence

So how can we make sure that we get the good stuff from comparisonitis?? Here are a few tips for comparing yourself to others WITHOUT getting stuck in a place that’s really negative for your mindset and your business…

  • It’s ok to compare yourself to others – in fact it’s a normal human need so I really want to validate that here! As social creatures this process can help us grow and succeed.
  • But notice HOW you’re comparing yourself, and WHAT you’re comparing yourself to. It’s really key to remember that our genetics and life experiences mean we all have different likes, dislikes, emotional responses too! Studies have repeatedly shown that even two twins raised in the same environment will have different cognition and ways of thinking. 
  • Beware judging yourself against others’ achievements without knowing the complete picture. Highlight reels are just that – the HIGHLIGHTS!


Now I want you to put your “positive comparisonitis” into practice! Notice when you next compare your own achievements negatively to someone else’s and how it makes you FEEL (this will help to reveal what your emotional response to the comparison is). Once you’ve identified the emotional response that you’re having, try to look at the factual bits. Does it seem like something that you could learn from, or which could help you? If it does then see whether you can channel the positives of comparisonitis to make it benefit you!

If you’d like a helping hand in the form of some one to one coaching then send me a message.

If you’d like to be part of my weekly live training on topics like this come and join us in Self Belief School – a free Facebook group for likeminded female business leaders.

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