How To Handle The Comparison Gremlin
I recently asked in my group what I could help with the most right now and dealing with comparison definitely came up the most.
It wasn’t a surprise, it comes up a lot for clients, my friends in the online space and in my feed and myself of course, i’m not immune!
Society today thrives off comparison, you only need to look at your screen time and how long you spend scrolling social media.
What are you looking for? What do you actually spend your time doing there?
Firstly, it’s totally normal.
We do it all the way from being little kids.
I certainly always compared my chip portion sizes to my big brother…i’m all for equality…if not tipping in my favour, but that’s by the by!
It’s another one of our lovely little protection mechanisms so we can work out what or who is a ‘threat’ to us.
Obviously what this meant in cave man days vs now is very different but that mechanism remains in our reptilian brain.
It’s also how we work out where we ‘fit’ in society.
Psychologist Leon Festinger noted there are two distinct types of comparison in his study on social comparison theory.
Upward and downward. We use it as a way to make an accurate assessment of where we are. Our skills, abilities, values, beliefs, everything.
As humans, we’re always looking to make sense of the world around us and one of the ways we do that is comparison.
Working out where we fit in the pecking order if you will.
We’re judging ourselves against other people. Often through the lens of other people’s metrics too.
For example, we judge people based on what we value and want for ourselves. Would you judge me on the arch of my foot? Probably not…but if you were a ballet dancer you probably would!
It’s human nature and fundamental to human existence, so let me say now, you’re not going to ‘get rid’ of it completely.
BUT, when you can understand comparison, take a step back and look at it with a little more awareness, it’s power over you dissipates.
It stops being such a negative thing.
It stops having power over our own behaviour, actions and beliefs of ourselves.
I was a TERROR for comparing myself to other people for most of my life.
Now, if it’s in front of my face, it’s still natural to compare of course, but I remind myself of a few little things…and have lots of ways to avoid it in the first place.
Some of which I’m going to share with you now.
Comparison is basically a lovely little method of torture for ourselves. However, it is a two way street.
When we think of comparisonitis we often think about the ways we compare ourselves to others who we perceive to be ‘better’ than us at the moment. But we do it the other way too.
So this is the upward and downward comparison I mentioned.
When we compare ourselves and think WE’RE the ones doing better, it gives us a boost to our self esteem.
But it does keep us in that cycle and habit of judgement so it often doesn’t help in the long run.
It’s also perpetuating a cycle of negativity because let’s be honest…it depends on other people being in a ‘worse’ position than you.
Apples vs pears
The trouble is, we’re not actually comparing reality with reality most of the time which is where it can become tricky.
So there’s a few things I’d like you to remember if you catch yourself in a comparison loop.
Insta vs reality
There are a TONNE of things that people don’t tell you so you never really have the full picture.
On social media, people can say what they want, true or not…and it can be giving you completely unrealistic standards to live by and a very skewed version of things.
We see this talked about a lot when it comes to social media, magazines, editing apps etc.
So it’s about being able to look at things at face value and understand that there could be more going on than meets the eye.
We’re all human and we ALL have struggles.
Not all comparison is a BAD thing.
You can use it as motivation to fuel you to push forward.
It can even show you great insight into what you actually want. Feelings of comparison often come hand in hand with envy but instead of looking at it as a bad thing, be excited that your emotions are showing you what you want.
It can also give you evidence of what’s possible. It can actually increase your self esteem.
You get to choose how you use it.
There is no such thing as an overnight success.
There really isn’t. People like to let you THINK that without detailing the years of slog or struggle it took to get them there. It’s valuable to understand this.
Comparison is in itself a focus on lack.
What you think you DON’T have yet. What does that help with?! We all know by now that where you put your focus is where you see your results so shift it to all the good stuff that’s possible and away from what you don’t have YET!
We are making it MEAN something about us.
What are you making that comparison MEAN about you? That you’re not good enough? What story is it causing you to tell yourself about what’s possible for you? Notice it so you can consciously challenge it.
Comparison can be addictive.
We get positive hits of Dopamine every time we compare ourselves positively to someone else so it’s no wonder we do it.
But this can be a double edged sword when this doesn’t go in our favour.
Instagram taking away the like feature is a HUGE step in the right direction for this.
Comparison can make people really b*tchy!!
You see it all the time in the online space. People slagging off competitors, talking badly about people in a bid to make themselves feel better about themselves.
It can even go as far as full on bullying, and it all comes from a place of comparison and insecurity and usually not anything to do with the other person in the first place. Be the bigger person.
For every person you’re comparing yourself to, someone is comparing themselves to you! We all start somewhere.
You don’t know their support network! Quite often all the people at the top are in masterminds together and are friends. They collaborate. It’s really easy to look at it and think they’ve done it all by themselves but it’s often not the case…but you don’t know that!
How can you combat the comparison gremlin?
Take a break from social media!
Unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad in any way…AND anyone who you keep tabs on to make sure you’re ahead!
Remember Insta vs real life!
Comparison as perspective. Remember you can compare downwards with empathy. It’s not always about making yourself feel better, it can be something that makes you feel grateful for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t.
Don’t compare your 10th step to someone else’s 10,000th.
Stay in your own lane! Do YOUR thing! It doesn’t really matter what everyone else is doing. Pick who you want to learn from and ditch the rest!
Once you create a habit of doing that you’re able to think so much more rationally about where you’re at.
In whatever area of your life you’re making comparisons.
In your job, business, family, friends, your weight.
When you can look at it with aware and rational eyes you can see all the technicolour of your situation, instead of focusing on the black and white…which isn’t true anyway!
It helps you be more resilient too, to look at all sides of the coin.
It’s a much happier way to live and you’ll probably find you get FAR more done because you aren’t creating stories about yourself, your abilities or other people and you start to follow your own gut and intuition more.
And if people want to compare themselves to you and be negative…it says WAY more about them than it does you. Empathy over anger is a little philosophy of mine because people who behave badly towards others are not happy people.
How about we all stop the judgement, of ourselves and others, and try and lift each other up instead.
I mean, imagine if everyone did that!
I know it’s unlikely as it’s human nature to compare…BUT, picture what it would be like if it happened. Oooooh!
So, how can YOU make a difference?
If you know that now is the time to start changing things for yourself and want to explore this further, have any questions or want some accountability to make sure you’re doing the things you need to then please book in a free discovery call so we can see what needs to happen to get you from where you’re at right now, to the successful business owner you know you can be!!
P.S – Last question…Are you sick of self sabotaging and procrastinating on getting your business going? Would you like to learn some practical strategies to stop you procrastinating WHEN it happens so you can FINALLY get the things you NEED to do DONE? Download my FREE guide below and I’ll show you 5 simple strategies to stop procrastination in its tracks!
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Fran Excell, mindset coach for self sabotaging female entrepreneurs at www.franexcell.com