How To Break Free From The Cycle Of Comparison

How to break free from the cycle of comparison.

The other day, I read an Instagram post that made me think twice. 

While I have no idea who this person is in real life, her words instantly resonated with me.

She recently launched a book and was talking about the pressure of comparison. Her book was published, but it wasn’t a bestseller like she hoped for. It made me stop and think: how many times do we fall into the cycle of comparison, without realizing that we’re doing it? How many times do we set expectations for ourselves, and “fail” in our own eyes because of those expectations, rather than realizing we accomplished a major goal?

As a writer, one of the easiest traps to fall into is the cycle of comparison. I’ve previously mentioned how much I used to struggle with imposter syndrome, and compare myself to “bestsellers” when I didn’t even have a writing gig at the time. I was comparing my day 5 to somebody else’s day 500, which wasn’t even close in comparison. 

When we start feeling “behind” in our lives or we aren’t matched up on a timeline that we made up in our heads, it’s easy to fall into the never-ending cycle of comparison. It’s hard to enjoy our own lives when we’re in constant comparison to somebody else’s life. 

But what I’ve realized through my struggles with comparison, is that we have no idea somebody else’s struggles and what it took them to get where they are. It’s easy for us to focus on the highlight reels of a person who has what we eventually want, but everyone has their own timeline and somebody else’s timeline won’t always match yours.

If you find yourself struggling with comparison, learn how to find joy in your journey and break free from the cycle of comparison with the following tips: 

Be Aware Of Your Thoughts 

We can never change anything if we’re not aware of our thoughts and how we feel. What you think of yourself and tell yourself, matters. When I first started on my writing journey, I was constantly falling into the trap of comparing myself to others. Instead of learning how to separate how I felt from what I knew, I kept feeling inferior to others based on what I thought

I “thought” that:

  • I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t published in a larger name-brand magazine (but I was still published)
  • I would never finish building my website because of the time it was taking (but I ended up finishing it after refusing to give up)
  • Nobody would care to read what I had to say (but then I built a following that continues to grow)

See how negative and untrue those thoughts are? When we’re in the process of working towards something we want, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and only see a fraction of the entire picture. I kept comparing where I wasn’t, to where other people were. But how long did it take them to get where they were? How much hard work did they put in behind the scenes that no book on the shelf or publication online could show?

Be aware of your thoughts and what you tell yourself. I can make a pretty good assumption that my negative way of thinking held me back from things I might’ve accomplished sooner. Eliminate negative thoughts, and shift your mindset to maintain a positive perspective no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. How you speak to yourself always matters. The more aware you are of how you feel, the more in control you are of what you will and won’t accept in your life.

The way you speak to yourself matters.

Remind Yourself Of Your Achievements 

Why is it that sometimes when we’re working towards something we want, that we somehow forget all the great things we’ve accomplished before?

When we’re comparing ourselves to other people, it’s easy to lose sight of all that we’ve accomplished and only focus on what we “haven’t” achieved yet. It takes time to get where you want to be, and you won’t always get there right away. 

Our journey is hardly ever linear. It’s usually the opposite—so many points going every which direction that eventually connects in the end. Any time you’re trapped in the cycle of comparing yourself to others’ accomplishments, remind yourself of your own accomplishments. 

Struggling to find a job after college? Remind yourself of all the years and hard work that it took to get your degree. Feeling like you’re behind in life because you’re not married yet? Write down all the qualities that you love about yourself, and reasons why you know you’ll be an amazing partner one day. 

Constantly looking at somebody else’s achievements rather than your own can make you feel more behind than you are. Anytime I’ve lost sight of my goals, I always remind myself that it’s one step at a time. Your accomplishments won’t look like somebody else’s because they are not supposed to. Remind yourself of all your achievements, and focus on what you’re working toward. Recognizing that getting where you want to be takes time, will alleviate the pressure on yourself and help re-shift your focus to where you’re headed. 

Find Your Inner Confidence

We all have insecurities from time to time. But when we’re in a state of comparison, our insecurities seem to get magnified. 

We compare ourselves to others when they have something that we want or desire. Looking at where they’re at vs. where you’re at, can make you feel more insecure when you haven’t reached a milestone that you were hoping to. 

Pinpoint why you feel insecure, and what steps you can take to find your inner confidence. Just as it’s important to be aware of your thoughts, it’s also important to be aware of the things that are making you feel insecure. Is it because you don’t think you’re enough in comparison to the other person? Or because you feel like you’ll never have what they have?

Confront your insecurities, and sit with them. Figure out a way how you can unpack them so that your insecurities aren’t magnified to the extreme. It’s different when you have a moment of insecurity vs. when you feel insecure the majority of the time. Remind yourself that there’s a reason that we all have different talents, goals, dreams, and even “timelines”. 

Your path won’t always look like somebody else’s, and it shouldn’t. How boring would life be if we were all the same? Rather than drowning in comparison and adding to your insecurities, find out how you can confront those feelings and work through them.

Refuse To Hang Onto The Past

Part of my biggest struggle from where I was to where I wanted to be was because I was focused on the past. I didn’t know how to let go, so I kept holding on. When you focus on past mistakes or beat yourself up because you’re not where you “think” you should be, then you lose sight of exactly where you are. 

I remember when I was in the process of almost launching my website, and instead of taking a moment of gratitude for finally finishing it, I started beating myself up for not having it published sooner. I kept wondering how far along I would be if I had published it a year or two sooner.

What I didn’t realize until later, was that I was hanging onto the past by focusing on things that I couldn’t change. My brain somehow forgot that throughout those years I had a full-time job, and was trying to navigate life after an extremely toxic relationship. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work on my site, it was that I was physically and emotionally drained, and I was trying to simply get through one day at a time.

Once I shifted my perspective and realized that I was doing the best I could with what I had, I knew I was hanging onto the past for no reason. Something might take longer than you initially envisioned it, but it doesn’t mean that you failed. 

We can’t magically speed up our journey or force things to change just because we want them to change. Our timing is our timing, regardless in comparison to anybody else. When we’re looking elsewhere instead of ahead, it causes us to lose focus on what’s important. Refuse to hold onto the past or hold yourself up because of past mistakes. Letting go of the past helps you enjoy exactly where you’re at.

How to break free from the cycle of comparison.

Believe In Yourself

How often do we set ourselves up for failure before we even begin something, because we choose not to believe in ourselves?

Even when your circumstances feel far out of reach, there’s so much power in believing in yourself. There’s no harm in believing for the things you want to see happening in your life. Imagine the worst that could happen, which is typically not getting what you set out for. But, I would much rather live a life of taking chances and believing in the things I want to see, rather than shying away from it because of the fear of it not being successful. 

There might be moments of doubt or insecurity, but that’s all it has to be is a moment. There’s so much power in letting go of comparing yourself to others and choosing to believe in yourself. Somebody else might always have the next thing you want, but what’s meant for you will always find you. Sometimes it’s as simple as believing in yourself for the things you want and the things you’re working toward. 

Falling into the cycle of comparison can happen subtly, but it’s impossible to be happy where you’re at if you’re always comparing your journey to somebody else’s journey. We can never imagine when we’re younger how all the different paths in our lives will connect, but they always find a way to come back together in the end. We can either look at somebody else’s highlight reel and feel intimidated by their success, or we can use it to motivate us to work towards what we want to see happening in our own lives. 

Let go of the grip of comparison so that you can live the life that’s waiting for you. We would always remain exactly where we’re at if we always focus on where we aren’t, instead of celebrating where we are. Never forget to focus on everything you do have, rather than what you don’t have. You’ll get exactly where you’re meant to when the timing is right, and not a second sooner.

Leave a Comment


  1. 5.7.24
    Jill said:

    I needed to hear this! So well said. When you’re stuck in the cycle it’s hard not to constantly compare ourselves to others. It’s okay to struggle and fail, we shouldn’t live in our expectations. We are all on our own journey and timeline.

    • 5.8.24

      I’m so glad! I agree, it’s hard not to get caught up in it sometimes. But it helps when we shift our perspective and realize that we’re all on our own timing, regardless of what it looks like to somebody else.

  2. 5.8.24
    Samantha said:

    Lovely reminders on being kind to oneself as one would be kind toward others. Nicely done.