In the End, It’s All About You

Five Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

By Ellen Hendriksen on Thursday August 30th, 2018

Image: Unknown

Why We Shouldn’t Compare

Comparing yourself to others happens at every age, from noting who has the best toys in the preschool sandbox to whose grandkids got into what college. But comparing oneself to others is especially rampant among young adults. Life-changing milestones happen quickly and often—graduations, engagements, career advancement—and it’s all on display on social media, the motherlode of FOMO-inducing social comparison.

The technical term for ‘comparing yourself to others’ is upward comparison. This means comparing ourselves to someone we perceive to be better off or more proficient than ourselves. By contrast, there is also downward comparison, which is comparing ourselves to those worse off or less proficient, like “There but for the grace” or, less eloquently, “Sucks to be them.”

Comparisons may be part of human nature—I’m sure cavemen once envied their neighbors’ fires and wheels—but when it gets out of hand, it leaves you feeling inadequate and insecure, not to mention depressed and anxious. What to do? We’ll cover five ways to stop comparing yourself to others.

5 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

  1. Feel the power.
  2. Find your purpose.
  3. Reinterpret what’s behind material possessions.
  4. Purge your phone.
  5. Remember you don’t have the full picture.

Let’s dive deeper into each tip.

Tip #1: Feel the Power

People with power—those in influential or leadership positions—can make decisions, override objections, and have others carry out their decisions.

But power is also a state of mind. Those who feel powerful approach social comparisons differently than those who don’t feel powerful, which is to say, they pretty much ignore them.

Feel the powerTake back your power–remember, you are the CEO of your life and choices.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology induced participants to feel more or less powerful by recalling in detail a time at work when they either had power over another person or someone had power over them.

Next, they read a description of a supposed recent graduate from their university. For some participants, the description was deliberately intimidating, with the fictitious grad racking up many impressive achievements and successes.

Finally, each participant rated themselves on six traits: Academic achievement, intelligence, competence, work ethic, likeability, and success.

Social comparisons magically seem less relevant when you’re busy saving the world or otherwise pursuing a goal you truly believe to be worthwhile.

The result? Those who had been induced to feel powerful and then read the about their fictitious peer’s FOMO-inducing achievements were more like rubber than glue with social comparisons. Even in the face of an accomplished striver, they still felt good about themselves on the six characteristics.

And what about the low power group? When they compared themselves to the fictitious striver, they felt bad about themselves, rating themselves lower.

So take back your power wherever you might be giving it away unnecessarily. You don’t need to turn into a spittle-spewing autocrat with bulging neck veins, but remember you are the CEO of your life and choices.

Tip #2: Find Your Purpose

Worried you can’t fake the C-suite attitude? No problem. You can get a similar effect with a different mindset: Purpose.

Find your purposePeople with a sense of purpose are less easily swayed by outside influences.

Another study, also in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that people with a sense of purpose were less swayed by feedback on social media. It’s not to say they didn’t notice ‘likes’ or comments at all, but they didn’t rely on them to feed their self-esteem.

So think: Why were you put on this planet? What do you care deeply about? Social comparisons magically seem less relevant when you’re busy saving the world or otherwise pursuing a goal you truly believe to be worthwhile.

Tip #3: Reinterpret What’s Behind Material Possessions

Okay, now, how to handle comparisons about material possessions—your neighbor’s new Tesla, say, or your office frenemy’s Birkin bag?

Well, in an individualistic society like the U.S., where personal choice and self-expressionare emphasized, people use their possessions to express who they are—Patagonia jackets and Subarus for the NPR crowd, Vans and PBR for hipsters, and so on.

Research shows that this tendency to define ourselves by our consumerism goes into overdrive when our idea of ourselves is threatened. For instance, one study showed that people made to doubt their intelligence suddenly became more interested in buying brainy accessories, like fountain pens and classical music. Likewise, those made to feel powerless became more inclined to buy expensive cars.

One study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletinasked participants to write a brief essay about the three domains of their life—including intelligence, creativity, appearance, career choices, relationships, and more—that made them feel the most confident and certain. By contrast, the other half was asked to write about the three areas of life that made them feel the most doubtful and insecure.

Why are you really buying that?We use ‘stuff’ to buffer ourselves against uncertainty and doubt.

Once primed, they were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their car and whether it expressed how they saw themselves as a person or was simply utilitarian. They agreed or disagreed with statements like “My car makes me feel good about myself,” and “My car helps me establish the kind of person I see myself to be,” as well as statements like, “My car makes it easier for me to structure and organize my daily life.”

The result? When made to feel doubtful and uncertain, participants rated their cars as a way to define themselves.

In short, we use stuff to buffer ourselves against uncertainty and doubt. All this is to say that you can read between the lines when you see your friend’s new drool-inducing shoes, bag, jeans, or car. You’re not trying to be catty, of course, but can quietly reframe their flaunting a new purchase as wearing the universal struggle with self-doubt on their sleeve.

Tip #4: Purge Your Phone

Unfollow any blogger or guru who makes you feel anxious and inadequate. Delete the apps that drag you down. If you spiral into an insecure funk every time you scroll through Instagram, get it off your phone. You can always reinstall it. But try an experiment—go without for a few days, and see if your self-image magically re-inflates.

Tip #5: Remember You Don’t Have the Full Picture

By now we know that social media is the curated highlight reel of others’ lives. But so is everything else we see in public. Your coworker’s big house might be worth less than he owes on it. Your friend’s new promotion might be inducing stomach ulcers and a secret wish to quit and make artisanal goat cheese.

Comparing the mundane, or worse, the low-lights of our lives only to the publicly available lives of others isn’t fair. Refrain from comparing your apples to others’ apple pie.

Another way to look at this is to remember that you and the object of your comparison are two completely different people. You have different personalities, aspirations, mindsets, histories, drives, vices, and downfalls. In other words, you are unique, and therefore, by definition, incomparable.

Unless you decide you’re both awesome and amazing. Then, compare away.


What is Your Life’s Purpose?

5 Questions to Discover Your Life’s Purpose

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings

At twenty-five I was happily married and had a great career, many friends, and lots of money. During that time, I also became deeply depressed, was put on medication for anxiety, and entered what would be a very long relationship with psychotherapy.

It was a real struggle for me to understand why I wasn’t happy when I had everything that I thought was important in life. Was I selfish? Were my expectations too high? I honestly couldn’t understand what was missing and how to fill this huge void that gnawed at me every day.

When I look back at my life, twenty years later, I realize that I really had no idea who I truly was or what made me happy. I kept expecting something or someone to answer this question for me.

The journey to find out who I was and what really mattered to me eventually involved divorce, the loss of my career and most of my possessions, and overcoming a serious illness.

It pretty much took the loss of everything I thought defined me and made me happy to admit to myself that I honestly didn’t know myself very well at all.

Who am I? What do I believe in? What is my purpose? What fills me with joy and wonder? These are questions that I am just beginning to understand after forty-five years of living my life, and I have to admit that getting there has been extremely difficult.

The hardest part for me was just knowing where to begin. After much therapy, meditation, self-reflection, and reading, I asked myself five big questions that served as a launch pad to begin my journey of self-discovery.

If you are ready to begin the process of truly understanding who you are meant to be, start here:

1. What or who would you be if you knew you couldn’t fail?

The risk of failure terrifies most people. How many times have you wanted to change jobs or careers, move to a new city, promote a cause that is important you, or become an expert in a certain area? Think about it. No risk of failure.

If you were 100% certain that you could be or do anything you wanted and not fail, do you know the answer?

2. What is your Ninety-Second Personal Elevator Speech?

Probably the most important and poorly answered question in most job interviews, this is similar in nature. You can certainly include your career or career accomplishments in your personal speech, but think of this from the perspective of how you might answer this if you were making a new friend or going on a first date with someone.

How would you describe yourself so that the person asking the question would truly understand who you are and what is important to you?

3. What are your core personal values?

Personal values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live. They give you a reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, desirable, and constructive. Once you are able to determine exactly what values are most important to you, you can better determine your priorities.

In fact, having this information about yourself is the key to making sure your daily life is aligned with those values.

4. What makes you genuinely happy?

This one is closely related to your core personal values. However, ask yourself this question once you’ve really nailed down what those values are.

For example, if family is one of your core personal values, will taking a job that involves tons of travel make you happy? Take it a step further and really consider dreams you had when you were younger or currently have about what will make you truly happy.

5. If money were no object, how would you live your life differently?

Many people equate happiness and success directly to the amount of money they have. How many times have you heard someone say, “If I hit the lottery, I’d…”

But remember, this question isn’t really about money at all. It’s more about thinking outside the limits we tend to put on our aspirations and actions because things seem out of our reach financially.

You may not be able to do those exact things, but once you know what those true desires are, you expand your thinking and begin to develop a plan to work towards goals you may have never imagined possible.

These are tough questions and the answers may not come easily or quickly. In fact, I found myself having to think and re-think my answers several times. This work is hard but necessary in order to really understanding yourself on a deeper level.

While I can’t say that I now know everything about myself, answering these questions completely changed the negative internal dialogue that was limiting my ability to see myself as I exist today and the me that I can become in the future.

But the biggest change came from revisiting dreams and aspirations that I had long ago put on the back burner while I was stuck in the process of “getting things done.”

My dreams of writing about things that are truly meaningful to me, finding a fulfilling and passionate relationship, being more present with my children, and discovering a higher power are all coming true now that I am focusing my energy in the right direction—and that direction was to look within.

So, find a quiet place and allow yourself plenty of time to go through and really think about each question and then just go for it. Go ahead. Begin your journey. Change direction. Create new dreams or rediscover dreams you left behind. Now that I have started, I haven’t looked back since.

Source: “5 Questions to Discover Who You Are and What Will Make You Happy,” from, by Dona Middleton

Photo credit: varun suresh

– See more at:

On Life Purpose by I. Berry

Why You’re Here: Life Purpose and Life Lessons



Join Itzhak Beery for the live video webinar “Shamanic Paths to Your Life Purpose: Hand Analysis, Numerology, Astrology, and the Mayan Naguals.” For this Evolver course, Itzhak will be joined by four master practitioners of the ancient arts of divination — palmist Richard Unger, numerologist Julian Michael, shamanic astrologer Daniel Giamario, and Mayan Nagual Shuni Giron — as they demonstrate and explain how these practices can reveal your life purpose to you. This course will introduce you to the role that life purpose serves in each shamanic tradition, and give you the tools to recognize and explore your own unique life purpose. It all starts on September 11. To learn more, click here.  


Discovering your life purpose – the reason you’re living the particular life you have – is likely the single most important understanding you can ever achieve for yourself.

The search for life purpose is as ancient as civilization itself. We all ask, “Why am I here on Earth?” “What is the purpose of my life?” “What am I here to learn?” These existential questions are universal. Esoteric practices like Numerology, Astrology, the Mayan Naguals, Tarot, among many others, have been developed to find answers for people, often in desperate situations, who know, deep down, that the experiences of their lives are not arbitrary, that there are reasons, if only they could understand them – then their lives would have meaning.


What Is a Life Purpose?

Your life purpose is your north star in the dark night as you navigate your canoe. It is the compass by which your soul directs your life journey. It is the key to realizing who you came here to be, and what you came here to accomplish. It cannot be changed. It is your soul essence. It belongs uniquely to you, from the time you came to this world, and some believe it is formed even before you were born, in the womb. It won’t tell you what job you need to pursue. It is the place you came from to do your job. Being conscious and internalizing your life purpose can give you permission and set you free to pursue your life with power, joy and freedom.


What Is a Life Lesson?

Achieving your life purpose is no easy task. You have to work for it, like running and jumping over obstacle courses on a life track. Life is sure to present you with all the obstacles that are possible. You will find the right people who will push your buttons. You will create enemies. You will encounter traumas, illness and other travesties — all to teach you your life lessons. If you avoid them, you won’t learn and will find yourself repeating those traumas again and again.

In a workshop I led on a cliff overlooking Israel’s Dead Sea, I asked the participants to choose 12 stones. I then asked them to lay the stones in a circle on a piece of paper and to put a candle in the circle’s center to symbolize their life purpose. Next, I asked them to pick up each stone and journey to a specific trauma, obstacle or negative event and write it down next to each stone. At the end of the exercise, I asked them to identify and consider the common thread that connects those 12 events to each other. When we finished, they buried the stones in the sand and said a release prayer. Afterwards, one participant followed me into the desert wanting to talk. He was so excited. “Now I know why I became impotent!” he exclaimed.


Knowing Your Life Purpose Can Set You Free

I know the power of life purpose, because accepting mine was a major event for me. Years ago I met Richard Unger and took part in one of his Hand Analysis trainings. Though I had been something of a skeptic, it opened my eyes to this ancient art form. Some years later, Richard developed what he called “Life Prints,” a system that uses the unique fingerprints on each of the ten fingers to decipher a person’s life purpose. He read mine and, indeed, it literally changed my life.

That reading gave me the permission I needed to become the person I am today. You see, as a young child I needed to tell stories and share ideas. I needed to express myself. But the woman on the Kibbutz in Israel who was my caretaker at the children’s house (we lived separately from our parents) did not have the patience to listen to everything I had to say.

“You talk nonstop,” she used to complain. One day, when she had had enough, she took me aside and said, “Itzhak, God gave each of us a limited number of words to use in our lives. When you use them all up, you will die.” I knew it was not true, but I took what she said to heart. In shamanic language, as I later came to understand, that was a curse. After that, I learned to control myself and to not waste my words. I lived in fear, and whenever I talked in front of groups my stomach churned, my heart palpitated and I used to pee in my pants. I came to convince myself that I had nothing worth saying in public, that what I thought wouldn’t matter to anyone.

In his reading, Richard told me that I was “a man with a message who needs a large stage” to express himself. To hear my life’s purpose with such clarity was a critical personal turning point for me, which literally set me free from all my self-imposed restrictions.

Richard also read my wife’s life purpose, and those of our three children. I believe that it made us more aware and conscious individuals, and hopefully better parents. Fast forward a few years, and Richard and I decided to teach a course together on life purpose, bringing together both of our disciplines: his Hand Analysis and my Shamanic Visioning, integrated into one workshop. We offered it in New York, San Francisco, Florence and Zurich. Each time we witnessed the real impact it made on people’s lives.


“A Woman of Power”

At a seminar I taught in Istanbul, a tall, impressive woman took part. She was in her mid-fifties, with white hair and a commanding, queen-like presence. It was hard not to see it. As the workshop progressed, she and the people she worked with discovered her life purpose: she was a woman of power. But she went out of her way to deny it. “Me?” she said incredulously. “I do whatever others tell me to do!”

The next day she came for a private session and I asked her about her denial. She claimed to be weak and not significant. But then, after a soul retrieval, she confided that her beloved mother had made her feel weak and insignificant all her life, through to the present day. That discovery was her life lesson.

Another woman, in a seminar I gave in Warsaw, was also surprised to learn that she had this same life purpose. As a result, she made a commitment to start “showing up,” to speak up to her husband, and to use her voice to experience her power.


“Not Enough”

Feeling satisfied with who you are and what you do can be extremely challenging, as this example from the case of an overachiever makes clear. This young man was an A+ student, but that was not enough. “I could have done better,” he said. Being president of the student body of a famous Ivy League college was not enough. To be chosen as one of the ten most brilliant young people of the year was not enough. Having a weekly column appear in many publications was not enough. Even starting a multi-million social organization was not enough. Learning to be satisfied with himself and his achievements is this man’s life work. Without this knowledge, he is doomed to experience himself as a consistent underachiever.


“Experiencing Love” 

“I don’t like this life purpose!” the tall, young, beautiful woman in a Warsaw seminar declared angrily when it was suggested that her life purpose was to experience love.

“So then, what are you doing to experience love?” I asked.

“I do everything,” she said desperately. “I’m dating all the time, but apparently the wrong men. All my relationships are short, just a few months. In the end, it seems, they lose interest in me. Or I want out.”

“Are you willing to let them in, and show them who you truly are?”

“Oh, no! I can’t trust them. I want them to prove that I can trust them first. But if I detect even the smallest reason not to, I’ll call it off.”

Her life lesson? You can’t experience love with a closed heart. Unless she learns to be vulnerable, to open her heart and trust men, she will repeat the same pattern and will never allow herself to experience what she came here for.


“Land of Sins”

On one of my first trips to the Amazon with shaman Ipupiara and his wife, our group paid a visit to Bibi, a legendary Umbanda priestess, whose reputation had spread through the Rio Negro area and beyond. Our boat docked by her large, simple wooden house and temple, and as darkness set the old woman — who was then 85 — held a special ceremony for us that lasted late into the night.

Standing by her crowded and beautiful altar, wearing her ceremonial pink dress, she started shaking involuntarily and went into a deep trance. She puffed on a few cigarettes and started channeling one of her entities, the sailor. I kneeled before her and asked the entity a personal question. I was surprised when a man’s voice answered. Then, suddenly, the dialog stopped. The sailor announced that my soul had decided, on its own, to come back to this “Land of Sins,” and for a special purpose: to heal and help people, even though my soul had completed its mission and did not need to return again.

“Do you understand what he said?’ Ipupiara asked me.

“No,” I answered.

“By the Land of Sins, he meant this world, the Earth. And you are an avatar,” Ipupiara said. She looked straight at me as if I was the most ignorant person alive.

“What’s an avatar?” I asked in surprise.

As Ipupiara answered my question in a hushed voice, a deep sadness fell upon me, and I became incredibly emotional. An old memory, long buried, from between the ages of two and three years old, appeared in my mind. It was a recollection of knowing then that I do not belong here on this planet, and of asking myself, why am I alive? I did not want to be here. I knew I wanted to go home, to let go of my physical body. This existence was just too painful.

Accepting your life purpose — even if it strikes you at first as peculiar or uncomfortable — allows you to direct your life path with clarity and power. This knowledge helps you to recognize that every negative event you experience is actually a teaching that takes you a step closer toward achieving your ultimate goal. At the same time, decisions become easier, since you can reject decisions that don’t support your life purpose. At the same time, once you begin living from this perspective, you can accept that each of us are have our own, unique life purposes, which lead us to pursue our lives in our own, unique ways. We realize how important it is to give others the permission they need to fully experience their life lessons, and to support their pursuit of life purpose. That, indeed, is the truest expression of love.

Image by sunshinecity used courtesy of a Creative Commons license.