You know this. Everyone understands comparison is at epic proportions in our world.
People feel stuck. They lack a strong sense of identity, so they look at others around them in order to measure their own sense of worth and purpose. But that scale is broken. Comparing ourselves to others to establish our own self-worth starts a cycle of doom that ends in disaster, defeat, and depression.
The demand for personal coaching according to the International Coaching Federation in February 2018, continues to rise by an estimated 6.7% annually.
Comparison alone isn’t the problem.
Comparison can help us, or it can hurt us.
Comparison becomes a problem when we take that comparison and measure our self-worth. What if we handled it differently? What if we took that thought and, instead of making a mindset about our identity, we leveraged it for something constructive?
In this post we are going to look at where comparison often comes from, and some strategies to make it work for us, instead of against us.
What we’re talking about here is the casual way we handle such a powerful process.
Comparison can be a huge motivator.
We can catch vision for our lives when we see what others are doing.
We can celebrate progress when we see how far we’ve come.
We can encourage others when they’re stuck in similar places we’ve been stuck.
Comparison can work for us or against us.
We get distracted from the work before us.
We spend our energy pretending to be something we not.
We don’t allow for meaningful relationships because we judge others.
If we don’t manage our mindset, it works against us. This is where it becomes a thief. It doesn’t go away if we ignore it. It continues to slither into work, relationships, and as it continues to grow it steals everything designed to keep us moving forward. Instead of fueling us for what’s next, it becomes a cycle of doom.
Here’s a quick example:
Left unchecked, comparison steals our joy. Theodore Roosevelt knew this. Teddy knew the pains and frustrations of a difficult life, and yet the 26th president of the United States had an ear-to-ear grin. Up against colleagues enjoying their families, he lost his first wife and his mother the same day. Up against contemporaries who were duly elected to office, he stepped into the Oval Office when President McKinney was shot. Theodore Roosevelt penned those words because he managed his thoughts. He didn’t let what was happening to others determine his happiness.
When we lose our joy, we become unhappy humans. The world certainly doesn’t need more unhappy humans.
The comparison cycle is simply identity theft. It robs you of the amazing life you were created for. It’s a serious matter and it’s infecting humans in epic proportions. It discourages and defeats us and infects our self-image. All that impacts how well we get traction in life and get ahead toward our dreams.
"The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." ~Steven Furtick
You and I have a choice how we manage comparison. And we must manage it, because it’ll find its way into our lives, and left unchecked, it brings nothing but distraction, pain, and shattered dreams.
I get it! I’ve been there. Everything changed for me when I made the choice to be motivated by others instead of intimidated. Before I understood the positive power of comparison it stole my identity and kept me from joy, freedom, and even a prosperous life. When I took steps to end it, everything became richer: relationships, career, peace.
Before we look at how to end it, let’s consider how it starts.
4 things that launch the comparison cycle of doom
An attitude of lack.
An attitude of arrogance.
Not understanding who we are as unique individuals.
No sense of purpose.
Let’s look at them one at a time.
An Attitude of lack
How often during the day do you say, “I just don’t have enough [fill in the blank] It could be time, money, friends, clothes, maybe even hair. These statements seem innocuous, but they are spoken from a place in your heart that feels like it’s missing something. Social media compounds this attitude of lack. Images posted often give the impression that life is perfect, everyone is happy, fulfilled and in love. People always look better on the outside, and we rarely understand what’s happening on the inside. Few people post the reality of their lives. Using social media as a tool for comparison fuels the cycle of doom.
An attitude of arrogance.
Arrogance is confidence gone wrong. It runs close to celebrating others’ misfortune and doesn’t recognize our own need for improvement. This downward comparison often begins with the need to self-promote and self-protect. This happens because we don’t think we’re good enough or we don’t think people believe we’re good enough. We spend so much time self-promoting and defending, we lose creative energy to work, play, and show up in relationships.
Not understanding who we are as individuals.
When we don’t understand who we are, we are left to try and create a false identity, an impostor persona. We are constantly working to defend this assumed identity. This type of comparison attitude sacrifices rich, meaningful relationships. Fear of being exposed as an impostor prevents us from fully showing up in a relationship.
When we don’t understand our unique identity we are easily distracted by what other around us are doing.
No sense of purpose.
Not understanding that we are unique humans, we fail to believe in any sense of purpose in our lives. Purpose gives us vision. Without vision we fall prey to depression and hopelessness. This begins a steep downward spiral in our souls.
Imagine focusing on what you do have and where you are headed in life.
Imagine managing yourself, with all your foibles, and let that be your full-time focus.
Imagine having a clear vision for your life, with your dreams and purposes.
It took me 55 years to get to the place where I was beginning to understand who I am and not care (so much) what others think. Don’t be me. You deserve to be the best you can be!
Don’t be me!
(Yes, that’s me. About 27 years old with big hair. It was the ‘80’s. Completely lost in my identity and purpose.)
Here are 5 identity protection tips, absolutely free. You can put them to use today, and it’s by far the most effective way to be done with the comparison cycle - in every place it rears its ugly head.
You can try these easy steps and get some traction in living from your identity!
A 5-day challenge to end the comparison cycle of doom
Day 1. Understand you have many roles in your life that make up your identity.
Pay attention to how comparison works its identity theft in these different roles. List some of the major roles you have in your life. Consider how comparison is influencing each role.
Day 2. Delete the word perfect from your vocabulary.
Delete the word from your thoughts. It’s not your friend and it’s not helpful. Perfect is unattainable, but excellence, is something you have control over. Perfect isn’t reality. Excellence is motivating. Perfection strives to be better than everyone else. Excellence is simply striving to be better myself.
When you live with the motivation to be excellent, you are free to fall short, but perfection doesn’t allow for failure. When you strive for excellence, it means you show up and try your best. If you fail, you pick yourself up, assess, and try again. Your focus is on the reason you’re doing something, rather than how it appears.
Try using the word “excellence” instead. Being excellent is better for you and your relationships than being perfect. It allows room for creativity, next step strategies, and above all, joy on the journey.
Day 3. Know what you like, what you want.
Again, I know this because I lived this. I never dreamed because my mindset was working overtime on other things. When I was challenged to discover the dreams in my heart, I literally cried. Real tears,
What I discovered is that even though that day I couldn’t articulate any dreams in my heart, they were there. Writing down bucket-list dreams jump starts the process and before you know it, you’ll have pages of things, places, people, adventures just waiting for you.
Begin with bucket-list dream because they are fun (it’s fun to dream the impossible, right?). The process is invaluable because it launches the self-discovery into knowing what you like, what you want, etc.
Make a list of things you would love to do, see, own, people you would love to meet, etc. Aim for 100 and work hard to get as close as you can. Include a list of what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. Begin to identify your dreams and passions.
Day 4. Know you, just a little bit better.
You are a complex human. Who you are is shaped by so many different things. Some you came by naturally. Some you developed over time because of experiences.
Consider some of the experiences that have shaped you.
For example, I went to a boarding school for my high school years. On one hand it was a fabulous experience. It opened up so many amazing opportunities I never would have had at home in my local school. Those are all positive experiences. But on the other hand, there were some serious reasons why my parents sent me away to that boarding school.
You see, we’ve all had good experiences and bad experiences, and often they are a blend of both. We always have a choice how we process them. (Remember Teddy Roosevelt’s ability to live happy, free, and abundantly, despite some very tragic circumstances.)
Today, think about some of your circumstances. Have they become open doors to comparison? If you find a few, make a decision to deal with one today. Assess it for any good it held, and grab any wisdom on what could have been done differently. Resist the lack. Resist the arrogance. Own your story and leverage it for all it’s worth.
Day 5. Deal with it.
Forgive and release
Dream into tomorrow
At the end of the day do you want to be happy and content with becoming a bigger, better version of you? Or do you want to live a wild goose chase life trying to either be something or constantly keeping up with the next thing. And there will always be a next thing to chase.
You get to choose! That’s really sweet news.
On the journey with you.
Terry & Anne
ps. Did this resonate with you?
Comment below and share your thoughts! It’s great to have a friend to encourage you along the way.
pps. Would you like a little more help?
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