The Trap of Comparing Yourself to Someone Else
I wish someone grabbed me by the shoulders a few years ago and shook me. Really, really hard. Comparison dug this huge hole in my spirit and looking back, I think it kept me in a stagnant place in life for a long while – longer that it should have. I went from feeling “less successful” or “not quite as fit” or “not as lucky” to becoming really bitter with myself. I had lost the desire to see what I was capable of because there was no way I could do it as well as they could.
I guarantee you’re doing it without even realizing it. If you scroll thru your feed or run into a person and you’re not genuinely happy for them with the successes they’re enjoying, then something is going on inside of you. I was guilty of it. Actually, from time to time I can still be guilty of this if I’m not self-aware. The family that just bought a beautiful new home, the friend that just had an awesome vacation, the colleague that just got a new car, the entrepreneur whose business is on fire… are you genuinely happy for them or irritated by it? You see where I’m going with this, right?
My ah-ha moment came about when a colleague and I were talking one day. I think I was spewing out my to-do list for the afternoon and she said she was in awe of how much I take on and juggle, that she had no idea how I could manage it all, and then she called me Superwoman. I was laughing before she could even finish her sentence. I told her that juggling several things is exhausting and that I’m barely keeping my head above water some days. I was no different than any other mom, and I felt like I was flailing in the wind sometimes. Where on earth had she drawn this conclusion?
I mean, hello, I’m the girl that cried alone in the bathroom on Thanksgiving morning because the stress of extended family and a clean house and avoiding a potentially-dry-turkey-like-last-year just got the best of me. Superwoman would not cry over a damn turkey. I’m also the girl that forgot her kids had a half-day at school until they called me from the school office. Oh, honey, I’m just stuck in traffic… I’m almost there. (Actually, Mommy forgot you had a half-day…) I’m the girl that buys her husband an anniversary card at the pharmacy on her way home on her anniversary. I may plan out many areas of my life, but things just overflow sometimes. Let’s be real. I’m not quite Superwoman.
Then it hit me – if she was perceiving this about me, then what about these women I had been comparing myself to?
The truth is, they’re fighting the same battle. They’re up against some of the same struggles. And they’re not crushing every aspect of life. They’re just narrowing their focus and putting forth the effort where their passion calls them to be. You think that because they’re crushing one area of their life that they have it all together. But they don’t.
Comparison does nothing more than isolate you. It’s a downward spiral, and guess what? You’re the only one spiraling when you do it. This cycle of comparison is one of the main reasons we find ourselves in a slump. Here’s the irony with comparison: you’re usually the only person that knows you feel defeated.
The feeling of defeat… it’s not coming from the other woman. It’s an internal battle within yourself. It’s a flaw in your mindset. It’s a lack of self-confidence in your abilities. We are so focused on succeeding that we forget to embrace the ride. We push aside gratitude for what we are accomplishing, and have accomplished already. Instead, we focus only on what we haven’t achieved. It’s all in your mindset though. This doesn’t mean that you are failing, or that you aren’t capable of accomplishing exactly what you desire.
So what can you do?
First of all, stop scrolling through the newsfeed if it only causes you to feel defeated.
Take a breather from it.
Secondly, get out a piece of paper & a pen. (right now… go get it. I’ll still be here.) Write down 5-7 things that you’re grateful for. You can start really simple (air you breathe, the tight squeeze your little one gives you every night, your husband’s corny jokes that make you laugh, or maybe it’s the 3 minutes of silence you have to yourself before anyone else in the house wakes up). Just keep writing. You’ll probably fly past 5-7 things. The truth is that you have so, so much to be grateful for. You need to remind yourself of this daily. Put this list somewhere where you will see it every single day. Focusing on gratitude does something incredible within you. It changes your focus from comparison and what you don’t have to a thankful heart for the things you do have.
Thirdly, take a few minutes (in a quiet space) and think about what you want to work on the most right now. What keeps you up at night? What is nagging at you? Do you want to spend more intentional time with your spouse each day? Your kids? Do you want to work on your health (cleaning eating or working out “x” times per week)? Do you want to work toward a promotion? Do you want to get your finances in order? Travel? What is it?
When it comes to comparison, we’re most affected by seeing others achieve success in the area that we’re struggling the most. We are most vulnerable in the area we feel least confident.
Set your focus on this. Create a plan for how you’re going to prioritize this area of your life. Where does this journey start, or pick-up? What do you need to do to improve to make this happen? What obstacles are in your way (don’t pretend there won’t be obstacles – you’re only fooling yourself). Map out how you will work around those obstacles.
Things don’t come together overnight. Narrow your focus on the first thing that popped into your mind. There is a reason it did. You haven’t worked as hard as you have to stop at this point. See it all the way through. Focus solely on your own journey, not hers. She has different reasons for doing what she does, and there’s room for all of us. We all bring something unique to the table.
You’re meant for more. Don’t forget that.