Comparing yourself to others can be a serious downward spiral for a lot of people. Some people say that it actually motivates them, but for many if not most it becomes a cause for feeling inadequate.

How do you stop yourself from comparing yourself to others in a negative way? The answer has been given to us by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who taught us through his Sunnah that if you find yourselve looking up at those who have more than you, you should instead turn and look at those who have less than you. He said:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ انْظُرُوا إِلَى مَنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنْكُمْ وَلاَ تَنْظُرُوا إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ فَوْقَكُمْ فَهُوَ أَجْدَرُ أَنْ لاَ تَزْدَرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ

 متفقٌ عَلَيْهِ

“Look at those who have less than you and do not look at those who have more, lest you should belittle the blessings of Allah (that you already possess).”

So Why do we compare ourselves to others?

When you look up at people it can feel like you are less than them, or you’re not as successful in life as they are. It can feel like this and worse if you’ve been in a state of discontentment in your own life. Have you ever felt a negative spiral where you feel like you are down here, in a dark place of difficulty and hardship while others just seem to get it all in life, they winning in life while you’re losing.

If you know what that feels like, then I want to inform you that no matter how bad it seems right now, Allah will never let you down.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that you should not look at those who have more than you, and instead look at those who have less than you because it is all a matter of perception and it’s these perceptions that are causing those negative feelings.

If you look at someone who has way less than you, you feel like you have more…

As a result, you’ll naturally be happier and become grateful.

Whereas when you look at someone who has more than you, you feel like you have less in comparison and that can lead to you being unhappy and feeling ungrateful for what you have.

This can happen all in the same day, so why is that?

It’s all about your thoughts, if you ‘feel’ like you have a lot, you’re happy, and if you ‘feel’ like you don’t have a lot you’re unhappy.

So why not just look at those who have less and be happy with what you have? It sounds too simple but the Guidance of the Messenger of Allah is simple, practical and extremely powerful if we apply it.

Try it… you’ll only really understand this by putting the advice to practice. You see, it’s all psychological and all of us experience this no matter how much we have in our lives.

So does Everyone Suffer from Comparison pain?

Yes every human no matter what they have already. So what can you do when you find yourself in mental anguish because you feel as though everyone else in life is moving on and achieving things and getting all of the great things in life? The first thing is to understand that every human has this very problem. However, some of us use this pain to motivate ourselves whilst others use it to punish themselves.

So let’s look at 6 ways that will help you to stop comparing yourself and what you can do to change this going forward.

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How to Stop Comparing yourself #1

Practice Awareness of the Blessings

To become motivated, you have to recognise the blessings that are already in your life before you look to attain more blessings.

This is important because there is a gap between where we are now and where we want to get to, and if you do not appreciate where you are right now, you’ll be too busy punishing yourself mentally to get your act together and move to where you want to get to in life.

One of the causes of this obsessive comparison pain is that many of us are constantly scouring through social media. Constantly reading our social feeds and watching other people live their lives. We watch videos and read posts by other people who are celebrating the wins in their life.

Most of the time people don’t celebrate their losses publicly and they don’t put out videos or post about how miserable they are, or how they feel the same pain as you. No one does that, no one celebrates or advertises all of the problems that they’re having in their lives.

However, even those people who you think are doing better than you, they also experience the many ups and downs of life. And maybe even the same Compulsive comparison problem.

Allah says in the Quran:

وَإِن كُنَّا لَمُبْتَلِينَ ﴿٣٠

Indeed, I am one who tries people.

Surah Muminoon, 30

Allah says in this verse that surely, I am the one who tests you. Everyone has trials in their life. It’s impossible to go through life without having problems and challenges. I use the word problems and challenges because positive people, they see these trials as challenges whilst those of us who are negative see the trials as problems.

A problem is something over your head, and you feel like you can’t get out of it. Whereas a challenge is something which is right before you, that you’re running towards, and you can find a way around it, over it or even through it.

You have to change the way that you look at life and life will change for you. The fastest way to do this is to change your expectations.

How to Stop Comparing yourself #2

Change your Expectations

Expectations are the problems that we have. We expect all of the things that we’ve been taught to expect from social norms and previous experiences. We look at magazines, watch movies and watch other people live their lives online or on TV and this creates for us an image of what a good life is. That image becomes your expectation for life.

An example of that is the old ‘Disney syndrome’, where people want to live ‘the happily ever after’ life that they watch in just about every Disney movie. This is very common because we’ve been feeding ourselves this information for most of our lives.

However, you can change your expectations by changing your outlook on life. This can be done only through taking action, through re-educating yourself and feeding your mind different information that serves you.

You have to feed your mind the information required to build up a new picture, new expectations. If you build a new picture, something which is achievable and something which you feel will make you happy, then that will become your new expectations.

It’s not enough to create a new set of expectations or goals in your life.  You have to have a growth plan and start to educate yourself and then take action towards those goals.

Most of the time people are unhappy because they don’t meet their own expectations. The cause of this is that they have not been taking enough action towards achieving their goals. You can change this at any point in your life by just making the decision to act.

How to Stop Comparing yourself #3

When You feel like an Imposter

Sometimes you feel like an impostor when you compare yourself to others. You’re trying to do something, and maybe it seems like others are better than you, but again that’s only a perception or negative thoughts. This often makes people feel like impostors or that they don’t deserve it, or even ‘they’re not worthy’ of these blessing.

This is caused by the negative thought patterns and it’s made worse sometimes by the Waswas (whispers) of the Shaytan. To get rid of this problem, it is actually quite simple but it requires you to be in a state of connection with Allah. So become regular in acts of Dhikr, remembrance of Allah. Recite the Quran more often, especially surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Nas.

Whenever you get these negative thoughts coming to your mind, repeatedly recite these 2 verses and insha’Allah it will help you to re-focus your mindset to be on a more positive trajectory.

Sometimes you can feel like an imposter even when you’re in a positive mindset. This is caused by your level of competence. If you want to become more confident in what you’re doing, work to become more competent. Study, train and get the experience.  The more competent you become, the more confident you will be and that feeling will soon go.

Feelings of competence don’t come first, taking action is first and then the feelings will follow insha’Allah. 

How to Stop Comparing yourself #4

Make Personal growth Your Goal in life

Allah says:

“You are the best of nations”

Surah Aal-Imran, 111

Allah informs us one of the main reasons for feeling like you’re not who you want to be or where you want to be in life, is because we all have an inbuilt desire for achievement and growth. The mistake most of us make is that we elevate other people to the position of ‘best in the world’. And then you try to become ‘like them’ in order to feel as though you can be the best you too.

However, you can never be someone else. You can only be you. Allah says you are from the best of people. So naturally, you are going to want to achieve your potential. However, if you never work on your own personal development, then how will you become the person you need to be to feel those achievements or just to be happy.

Personal growth and development should be every Muslims goal so that you can become the best that you can be. All you need is some goals, a development plan and then you just take action

Just remember to keep it small and simple, if you make your goals too big and the action steps too difficult you won’t do it.

How to Stop Comparing yourself #5

Take little steps towards a Greater You

Once you have an idea of who you want to become, take that big picture of yourself and break it into a thousand small, manageable pieces. And then every day take one of those pieces and do it.

Just take action on the smallest thing that you can do right now, that will work towards your big goal. If you take a thousand days to achieve your goals, that’s less than 3 years. Taking a small step every day towards your goal for 3 years, you would have taken 1000 steps and that’s a long way from where you started.

Don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t make other people your model of success. By taking small steps towards any goal in less than three years, you can change your life and be who you want to be.

How to Stop Comparing yourself #6

Model Success

The greatest role model that has ever existed, gave us a set of standards and the benchmark. He is non other than the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and if you want to take anyone as your role model, a model of success, then it should be Him.

Allah said about him (saw):

لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّـهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّـهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّـهَ كَثِيرًا ﴿٢١

“There is certainly in the Messenger of Allah the best role model for the one who hopes in Allah and the last day, and he remembers Allah a lot.”

Surah Al Ahzab, 21

The Messenger of Allah (saw) showed us through the Quran and his Sunnah, how to become the best individual you can be. When you follow the Sunnah, your expectations are being guided by Allah. Your model of success is realistic as Allah knows your capabilities and potential. The Goal is not superficial, it’s one that will bring you happiness in this life, whilst preparing you for happiness in the hereafter.

If you read about when the Prophet (saw) came to the Muslims of Makkah. They were not people that were ready to run the world. But through the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah and constant personal development that each individual went through, in less than 60 years, those very same Muslims went on to rule the known world.

They were people who were right at the beginning of their journey, even at the age of 30 or 40. They went through personal growth and transformation by acting on what they were learning from the Quran and Sunnah. This was their development plan and they continued to grow as Muslims before they were ready to migrate from Makkah to Madinah, where they went on to establish the first Muslim state.

But 13 years they remained in Makkah, taking action to grow themselves, connect to Allah, strengthen their character. They grew to become the best that they could be before Allah gave them the opportunity to establish the Muslim state.

The point is that they spent 13 years building themselves, so you don’t have to do it overnight, as it takes years of taking small steps towards a greater goal.

So, now decide on who you want to become and feed your mind the information of the Quran in the Sunnah to build up the correct expectations of how your life should be. Allah swt who created you has given you the best of guidance so that you will be happy in your life, as well as to attain the keys to paradise.

You don’t have to become overwhelmed with too many things to do. All you have to do is work on yourself. Study and understand and then take action, small consistent actions. Insha’Allah slowly over the period of a few years, maybe two or three years before you will become the person that you want to be, and have the life you desire.

The last thing I’d suggest is enjoy life now as it is. Appreciate the blessings you have right now and just be happy about it

One of the most important things is to enjoy life right now and not delay your happiness for a future date. It’s all about how grateful you are. Be grateful to Allah for what you have already and then work to improve on that and take the next step. Live for the moment, not the future goals.

May Allah bless you with an amazing journey with your Quran.

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  • Quranic guidance on Optimising Your Life
  • Become the Best version of yourself this Month
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