(Insecurity and the Path to Self-Confidence, Part 2)
How often do you find yourself viewing the profile of a friend or colleague on social media? Do you linger on pictures of their new house, their new car, their bright shining smile? Today—more than ever—it is easy to fall prey to the temptation of comparing ourselves to others.
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the Imposter, someone whose self-esteem has not kept pace with their accomplishments. This week, we will discuss the Imposter’s cousin, the Sideways Glancer.
Judging your interior by others’ exteriors is always a losing proposition. This occurs when you use the perceived successes of others to measure your own feelings of worth. There will always be someone wealthier or better looking. It may surprise you to hear that I once had a client with a seven-figure salary admit to envying colleagues in his industry!
There are infinite ways to feel less than (or more than) others. Once you begin the process of comparing yourself in this way, you start scratching an itch for which there is no satisfaction.
This desire to compare ourselves to our peers is further complicated by the many layers of self-projection and self-branding propagated online. When others project a false sense of happiness, it can make you feel even worse by comparison.
Comparing ourselves to others is rooted in our desire to feel comfortable with where we are in life, and silence our anxieties about not being good enough. We seek a metric by which to measure our happiness. For example, “I will be good enough when I earn enough money, status, position, respect, and on and on…”
However, once we achieve those milestones that we believed would mark our success, we simply move the goalposts and push our measure of success further away.
We live in a competitive culture that encourages comparisons and is hyperfocused on winning. Taking a sideways glance is a constant temptation even for healthy people. Believe it or not, it’s possible to be an Imposter and a Sideways Glancer at the same time; indeed, most people have multiple causes for their insecurities.
However, those with healthy self-esteem can put these comparisons in perspective and focus on what is important to them, not what is important to their peer group or the rest of the world. They have an internal locus of control that serves them well.
THE TAKEAWAY: Comparing yourself to others can be unhealthy. Building your own self-esteem lessens the anxiety that comes from a sideways glance.