Asking the Internet for Advice

I’ve been thinking too much, as I sometimes do. And there are a few things I have on my mind, because they’re things about which I’ve never really heard any advice given. They’re all things that I’ve been told, directly or indirectly, that I should be doing—but what I haven’t heard is how.


So I could use your advice on these three things, Internet. I’m interested in EVERYONE’S thoughts on these, whether I know you or not, whether you’ve commented before or you just lurk, whether I met you in real life or on the Internet, whether you want to share your name or be anonymous. If you have thoughts—any thoughts at all—please comment.


How do you stop comparing yourself to other people?

This advice is given on the Internet so many times it’s almost a cliché. “Want to be happier? Stop comparing yourself to others!” “Not satisfied with where you are in life? Stop comparing yourself to others!”


But I’ve yet to find any practical advice on HOW to stop comparing yourself to others.


Because here’s the thing: almost everything in life is designed to encourage comparison.  Look at high school—you spend all of high school competing for the best grades. The winning time in the meet or the most goals scored. That leadership position you want to put on your resume. The lead in the play, the first chair in the orchestra. All this so that you can beat out other people for spots in the college you want to go to.


And it never really ends. At work now, I’m in sales, and comparing yourself to other salespeople is a built-in part of the job. You see where other people are in life and use them as yardsticks for where your life should be, or could be.


All the advice I’ve ever read on the attempt to stop comparing yourself to others is really vague and general. So…do people who don’t compare themselves to others really exist? And if so, how do they do it?


This kind of goes hand-in-hand with my next question:


What do you do when you’re not happy for someone and you’re expected to be?


So let’s say someone in your life has some good news while your own life is…not going so well lately. And while you know it’s fairly normal to be happy for someone while also being jealous…what about when you’re 0% happy and 100% jealous? And you feel like the only thing that would make you feel happiness for this person would be an improvement in how things are going in your own life?


Jealousy is ugly and it’s kind of a shameful thing to have to admit to, but I feel it all the time. But I don’t know how to put an end to it. When someone gives the advice to be happy for the person’s good news, to me that sounds like, “Even though you didn’t like that (fill-in-the-blank…could be a movie, book, song, food, etc.), you should just change your mind and like it!”


I honestly don’t think I can just decide to be happy for someone and make my percent of happy higher than zero. I have tried and it really didn’t work. But other than working to improve my own life, in hopes that it will decrease my jealousy, what do I do?


And one more thing:


What do you do when someone won’t forgive you for something you’re truly sorry for?


I’ve never really talked about this, on this blog or anywhere else, and even now I don’t want to go into too much detail.


About two and a half years ago, I said something I shouldn’t have said, and the result was the end of more than one friendship. When I apologized to the person I’d hurt, she didn’t accept it and essentially said that she’d never forgive me and didn’t want to talk to me ever again.


It is not an exaggeration to say that I think about this every single day.


It’s not the only misstep I’ve made, either, and was not the only thing that led to the end of these friendships. I’ve spent a lot of time retracing my steps, thinking of how things might be different now in my relationships with people if I’d made different choices. The fact that I’ve hurt and upset other people absolutely kills me.


I see so many people in my life who are actually good people, people who don’t hurt others, people who can go to bed at night knowing that they are actually not terrible human beings, and I wish so much that I could be one of them.


When there’s not the slightest chance of being forgiven, is there any chance you can forgive yourself? And if so, how do you do it?


Please comment. I really want to hear what people think about any or all of these questions.

3 thoughts on “Asking the Internet for Advice

  1. Brittany Pines

    1) For comparing yourself to others: The thing that has worked best for me is to sit down and ask myself “What type of woman do I want to be? What goals and values do I place the highest importance on?” And I work towards *that.* If I notice myself getting jealous that another friend or blogger is gaining more popularity than me, I remind myself that popularity wasn’t on my list. I am working towards something else, and that’s ok. They are doing their thing, and I need to do mine. It’s not perfect, but it’s helped.

    2) Not being happy for others: This is harder, I think. Personally, my jealousy usually stems from insecurity. If I am jealous of someone, it’s because that specific area of my own life is upsetting. I don’t think it’s necessarily about improving your own life- although that would help of course. But it’s deeper and involves coming to terms with your own strengths and weaknesses and understanding why you value the thing you are jealous of (and why you think the other person doesn’t deserve it).

    3) People make mistakes. We are flawed. If this person chooses not to forgive you, that is a flaw of them also (it’s possible they’ve forgiven or moved on, but simply don’t want you in their life because it would be a constant reminder- which is unfortunately but their choice). Only you know if you’ve really done everything you can to make up for your mistake. If you have, then really the only thing YOU can control is your behavior from this point forward. That person can choose to hold on to their anger and sadness, and it will make their life miserable also. Learn from your mistakes and don’t make them again. Treat the people in your life NOW better than anyone in your past. Become that good person you want to be. Cheesy, but today really can be the first day of a new life. You will still make mistakes, but hopefully they will smaller and not as dividing. Good luck.

  2. Cassie

    These are all really honest, thoughtful questions, and I don’t know what the right answer to them is necessarily, but we’ve all been there at some point.

    As far as the first two questions go, I’m in grad school, I’m in the job-seeking stage and I’m constantly seeing what my classmates are up to and it can be downright intimidating to see some of them already making big waves… and yeah, I get a little envious when they get the impressive jobs or whatever. But as far as being happy for them goes, I have to ask myself, “Did they work their asses off for it?” And in most cases, yes. Sheer dumb luck doesn’t hit the same undeserving person more than once usually. (And if it does, feel free to curse the universe without guilt.) So maybe instead of feeling bad about not being happy for them, admit that, yes, you’re a little jealous… then silently give them credit for their hard work and decide not to dwell. Envy is not a shameful emotion, and you’ll probably feel better simply by acknowledging that.

    But I’d say you probably answered your own question in this sentence: “But other than working to improve my own life, in hopes that it will decrease my jealousy, what do I do?” I don’t think there’s anything OTHER than improving your life that’s as effective. If you work hard on your own thing, you have less time to fixate on what other people are up to. If you have a lot of success, that’s awesome. (And people will probably be jealous of you!) If not… well, you keep working and feel good about the fact that you’re working toward bettering yourself.

    Whew, long comment!

    1. Katie Post author

      Yeah, except…it’s not accomplishments so much as relationships. It’s hard to watch other people get into relationships/engaged/married when I can’t seem to meet anyone no matter how hard I try. And meeting someone often IS a matter of luck- I do everything I can think of to try to meet people and I’ve still been single my entire life. It’s just hard thinking that romantic love might really be something that I never get to experience while everyone else around me does.


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