Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

By: Julia Keys

It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We compare ourselves to others so often that they rarely even notice it. A social psychologist named Leon Festinger first proposed the social comparison theory in 1954 stating that humans look to others in order to evaluate their own self-image. Comparison is a necessary part of human cognition. We need to compare things in order to make choices. For example, imagine you are choosing between two different new cars to buy. One must compare the different traits of each car in order to make a well-rounded decision. Unlike cars, humans have unique and complex sets of experiences and genes, so comparing yourself to others isn’t logical. Unfairly comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy habit that can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of anxiety, and feelings of depression. Everyone has compared themselves to someone else at some point, but some people seem unusually preoccupied with it.

Here are some reasons why certain people tend to compare themselves to others frequently:

  • They feel like they have a lack of control over their life
  • Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, or low self-worth
  • History of being compared to a family member
  • Lack of self-knowledge/self-reflective skills

Ways to stop comparing yourself to others:

  • Limit social media use and when using, seek connection, not comparison
  • Take note of how often you compare yourself to others and mentally tell yourself to stop
  • Keep a journal with your own goals, aspirations, and self-reflections. Many times, people become so attached to certain ideals that they adopt from others that they forget to develop their own ideals. For example, if a child was told by his mother all his life that he must pursue a certain profession, they may be ignoring other career paths that they want to pursue. It is important to self-reflect so one can align their goals and behaviors to the wants and needs of their true selves.
  • If you do compare yourself, try to compare yourself to someone/something that is just slightly out of reach and well defined. When comparisons are general, one can get stuck in a rut of constant unfair comparisons instead of taking action and being able to achieve specific goals. Additionally, comparing yourself to something that is so out of reach can be discouraging. For example, if a woman compares body to an Olympic athlete, she is not setting a defined goal in order to be more like the athlete. In this case, it would be more helpful for the woman to aspire to be like her active friend who walks every day and schedule daily walks so she can exercise more.
  • Practice gratitude for your mind, body, spirit, and relationships
  • Only compare yourself to yourself, which is also known as internal validation. Internal validation is beneficial to your well-being and self-esteem.

If you or someone you know is struggling with low self-esteem or confidence issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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