Rabail Umair Khan
S.T.O.P. The Comparison
Updated: May 27, 2020
In this day and age, we worry too much about other’s perception of us. Social media have made this even more prevalent. We are constantly in a virtual competition with everyone, making sure we are perceived as better; perpetually worried about what others will think of us.
Learn to take a step back from this. It’s the Almighty’s approval that we need. Look within. If He’s pleased with us, then nothing else matters. What you think of yourself and how much you have grown, as a person, in comparison to YOURSELF, is what matters in the long run.
In this article, I want to share with you all the S.T.O.P. framework, that will help you step out of the vicious and energy sapping cycle of comparison. Shall will S.T.O.P. the comparison already? Pun totally intended.
Learn to listen to your thoughts and feelings, without meddling too much with them. Just observe. Accepting your feelings exactly the way they are is the first step towards understanding it and then letting it go. You cannot invalidate your feelings and expect to feel better.
If you are experiencing a negative emotion, let’s say you are feeling jealous of someone with accompanying negative thoughts, then acknowledge it first. Label it as, “I am feeling jealous.” Then process and release it.
The more you avoid how you feel, the longer it will linger. So validate your feelings, assure yourself and most of all be kind to yourself. How would you treat a scared child who comes to you again and again, to get assurance? Treat yourself that way too. Self-compassion is key.
Transform your perspective:
Next, now that you are aware of your emotions and thought patterns, now it is time to change your focus. Take a piece of paper and pen for this.
We always compare ourselves to others. Now, try looking at your life from a third-person point of view. You will be surprised to know, that you are immensely blessed when you take on their lens. You definitely have privileges, which others may not even have. List them all down in the piece of paper you have in front of you. Make sure you refer back to this list every time you get stuck in a comparison loop. After all, we as humans are forgetful in nature, and thus a constant reminder is always good and very much needed.
Just so you know, there will always be someone better than you and that’s a given. But remember, just like that, you are also better off than many people. What you have, others may not have; and what they have, you may not have. But if what you have were to be taken away and replaced with what they have, then you wouldn’t be able to survive even one day. You know why? Because what you have is catered exactly to what you NEED. So, as long as you remember that what you have is the best for you, you will always remain content.
Observe what you already have:
Now, let’s make what we did above a daily habit. The antidote to negative comparison is practicing gratitude. Every day, take five minutes of your day, preferably in the morning, to list down three things you are grateful for. It can be as simple as, “I am grateful for being alive and healthy.” Trust me there is always something to be grateful for. This way, in times of crisis, you have a good coping mechanism at hand — to tune into gratitude. Always works.
Take it up a notch, and list down three amazing things that happened to you the entire day, in the evening. Now, no matter how dry and exhausting your day must have been, focusing on the three amazing things that happened helps you end off the day on a positive note, instead of aimlessly scrolling through your social media news-feed. This can literally be as simple as having a good meal with your family, a random kid smiling at you, or getting a tight hug from your loved one. Learn to find happiness in the simplest of things, so that you are content with life just as it is, instead of tirelessly comparing yourself to someone else’s highlight reel.
Pray when feeling overwhelmed:
When overwhelmed, seek refuge by praying to the Almighty, the Universe, or your higher-self, whichever notion suits you best. If meditation is akin to listening to yourself, then praying is the equivalent of talking to yourself, more specifically, to your subconscious mind. Regardless of your faith, every one can enjoy its benefits! Personally, being a Muslim, I find solace by crying my heart out to Allah (God).
Recently, I felt very uneasy, so I opened the Quran and felt reassured after reading these verses,
"And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. Indeed, those who fear Allah — when an impulse touches them from Satan, they remember [Him] and at once they have insight." [7:200–201]
Wanting to compare yourself to others and harbouring unnecessary negativity in your heart, is the work of Satan, and so long as you seek refuge in Allah, you will find peace again. If jealousy and comparison isn’t in your nature then your heart will be restless and overwhelmed — ironically, this is good as it alerts you that the thoughts and emotions you are experiencing does not resonate with your core values, that is, your higher-self. Having that distance then allows you to separate yourself from it and no longer give it any power!
Like everyone else, I too fall prey to the temptation of comparing. It’s normal, so if you too experience it, then do not be too hard on yourself. In fact, be grateful that you actually have the awareness to realise that you are comparing. To end it off, remember that awareness and acceptance is always the first step towards letting go of an unhelpful habit and replacing it with a habit that actually serves you. Here’s to hoping that you learn to accept and love yourself just the way you are, embrace your life for what it is and remain content with all that you already have.
Originally published on my Medium, on February 23, 2020. Click here to access it.