I have felt like a winner at different times of my life. I have also felt like a loser at different times of my life. Sometimes I compare my progress, personally and professionally, to others and feel less than. I start to beat myself up, judging my weaknesses, questioning my past choices, and start to feel my stress level rise.

Can comparing ourselves to others cause stress? Yes. Comparing ourselves against our friends and rivals is often a stressful proposition.

This process of social comparison, evaluating ourselves in terms of how we compare with others, personally and professionally, can cause significant stress. We often make the mistake of deciding whether we are either superior or inferior, similar or different, by comparing ourselves to others.

However, these reference groups can be inappropriate and cause stress. You might feel ordinary, average, or inferior in terms of talent, skill, or attractiveness if you compare yourself to an inappropriate reference group.

Studies show, men who compare themselves to media-idealized male physiques evaluate their body negatively. Ridiculous. Studies show young women face the same pressure and stress when comparing themselves to thin fashion and media models. Unrealistic.

We need to be smarter than that. We need to resist the urge to compare ourselves to others.

Now, if you can’t stop yourself from comparing yourself to others, at least take some control of whom you compare yourself to and seek out people with whom you compare favorably. Once you place yourself alongside a truly representative reference group sample, your self-concept may become more realistic, and your stress may become more manageable.

Better yet, to minimize the damage you are inflicting on yourself, accept yourself and like who you are.

Social comparison is a stressful act. Act to resist the temptation, and just like and appreciate yourself instead.

If you and your coworkers are suffering from significant stress, contact me at kit@seminarsonstress.com and I will deliver a presentation packed with dozens of stress management strategies.

If you need to find a keynote speaker, plenary speaker, breakout speaker, concurrent session speaker, seminar leader, or workshop facilitator who can deliver in-person, virtually, or via prerecorded session, Kit Welchlin, M.A., CSP, CVP, is a nationally recognized professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at www.welchlin.com or www.SeminarsOnStress.com.