Avoiding The Comparison Trap
May 26, 2016
A female client recently complained to me that she felt as if she was wasting her life. All of her girlfriends were married and having kids. Being 32 years old and single, she told me she had "fallen behind" in life, saying it was too late for her to have a family of her own.
As I began to ask her more questions and dig to the core of this self-limiting belief, she revealed something interesting. She wasn't even really sure that she wanted to be a mom in the first place, but after seeing so many friends posting baby pictures on social media, she felt like she was less than everyone else, despite the fact she was killing it in her own right, furthering her education and crushing it with straight "A" grades.
Later that same afternoon, a male radio client confided that he was feeling inadequate because other people that he came up in the industry with were working in major markets while he was in a smaller market making less money. He didn't dislike his current job. In fact, he loved the people who he worked for and they treated him well. He wasn't making a Ryan Seacrest salary, but he wasn't struggling to pay the bills either. Nevertheless, after obsessively comparing his career to others, he had convinced himself that he was failing.
And such is the struggle in a social media age where we're so caught up in watching other people's lives unfold, that we begin to lose sight of our own vision. At the click of a button, we can see what our friend from high school is up to, we can find visual proof that our ex has moved on and found a new relationship, or that some young celebrity is thinner, richer, and has a better life than we do.
As a result, we forget about our own unique qualities and gifts, ultimately losing the connection to our own soul.
That's an awfully big price to pay.
So how do we escape from the comparison trap?
First, by understanding that there is only one person that you need to compare yourself to. That person... is yourself.
Are you a better person than you were yesterday? Have you taken one action step today that pushes you closer to YOUR dreams? If so, high-fives to you for crushing it! Progress isn't always made by leaping from Point A to Point Z. There are plenty of steps in between that help you build toward your goals.
If your answer was no, don't beat yourself up. Just get focused, get still, and figure out your next grounded step to get back on track.
Second, remind yourself that you cannot contribute to the world by trying to be somebody else. Your DNA and fingerprints prove that you are a unique being made of unique cells who has a unique set of talents and skills that are unmatched by anyone else on the planet. Your mission in this lifetime is to give YOUR gifts to the world in the form of service to others.
And here's a spoiler. When you try to change who you are to get ahead, you will never be fulfilled. You may very well get that next job or the big pay raise, but it will feel empty because you aren't being authentically you.
The highest levels of joy that come from success are rooted in your own personal growth, not comparison growth. So turn off the social media and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. You have something to offer that nobody else does!
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