Replace Comparison with Compassion Comparing yourself to others is a natural human impulse – your looks, your possessions, your successes. However, it’s damaging to your self-esteem, your confidence, your health, and your happiness. Comparison to others elicits shame, which decreases motivation for change, and jealousy, which decreases healthy social connections. Compassion is the antidote to the emotional pain often brought on by comparison. Compassion involves cognitive empathy – awareness of what is being felt and experienced by another person. That awareness is then followed by acting upon the concern you experience in order to relieve any suffering. Practicing compassion results in improved resiliency, social connections, mood, contentment, confidence, immunity, and self esteem. 3 Ways to Decrease Comparison and Increase Compassion 1. Breathe Being emotionally flooded can both cause the urge to compare as well as result from getting caught in the comparison trap. Taking a moment to breathe calms your body and mind, allowing you to think rather than react. Practicing meditation, especially loving-kindness meditation, is even more effective. 2. Listen One of the best ways to demonstrate compassion is to simply listen when someone else is talking. That means giving validation instead of advice or criticism. Validation sounds like, “That makes sense because ______.” Active listening also means listening without distractions, such as your phone. 3. Action Taking action to alleviate the suffering we see in others results in the release of oxytocin, the tend and befriend neurotransmitter. This is also experienced when bonding with your baby or cuddling with your partner. Action looks like giving acceptance and encouragement, donating time or resources, and meeting the unmet needs of others however it is possible for you. Remember that the only person to compare yourself to today is who you were yesterday. If you are struggling with life stressors, self esteem, relationships, family conflict, or other challenges, contact Jolie for individual, couples, family counseling, or life coaching. Jolie also provides workshops for professional or personal development, and continuing education as well as clinical supervision and coaching for counselors, social workers, and other professionals.