Avoiding the Comparison Trap

Hey there y’all! Another week into 2023…and I am officially on Spring Break! This year really is moving quickly and there is still so much I want to be sure that I accomplish! One of my goals, if you remember, was to work on my social health. What does this really mean? Well…I committed back at the end of 2022 that I would get out more often, see friends more often, and not just throw myself into my work. How is it going, you may ask? Well…I have done just what I set out to do…and here is the great part…I have reconnected with old friends and made new ones! I guess you are never too old to learn something new and make changes in your life!

I do want to say, I am enjoying getting back into a social scene. Of course, it does mean less time for something…and I am trying to balance what that something is each week…finding time to work out regular, spending time with the brown dog (especially as he is quickly aging), and really getting my business up and running…it is hard to determine the somethings, but I am giving it my all and finding that an extra hour each morning, or multitasking a few things in the evening seems to be working.

A group of my old friends, and now new friends, go to this little bar up the street from my house. It has been around for a while and I have occasionally stopped in for some social time or a quick drink, but more recently I think I can almost say I am becoming a “regular”…that is in quotes because maybe I gave myself that title! But I have actually started being invited into conversations with these real regulars and I started to hear some recurring themes in things that are being discussed. And, as with all things, I guess when something is on your mind and you begin paying more attention to looking for it, I have also noticed these themes coming up in conversations I am having while at work, hearing people discuss on my weekly podcasts I listen to, and in online communities as well. It begins with becoming, or being, an empty nester. This is a real thing for so many people, especially moms who may have devoted their lives to their children and now that they are gone, they feel lost in life. I even feel this quite often, as my daughter has moved across the city (well, it is Houston, and it does take a good 2 hours to get from one side of the city to the other). In addition, she has a very steady boyfriend and spends more time with him these days than me. The sadness of not having her with me more often is a real feeling for me, and although I am now in an opportunity to live my life focused on what I want, it pops into my mind each day.

But, more recently, I have begun to hear many discussing what I call the comparison syndrome, comparing themselves to others in countless different ways. I am hearing it in regard to body weight, self-image, money and wealth, and even lifestyle choices. It makes me wonder, has these conversations always been happening and I haven’t paid attention because I have been so busy and wrapped up in my own world, or are we getting older and beginning to have regret about the lives we have and wish they were different? I am still working on my answer to that question and will definitely continue to research, but I did want to take time to share my thoughts on getting into that comparison trap and how to avoid it in your own life.

  • I think about all of the business training that I have been working on this past year. The first thing I learned from all of the online modules and sessions with my coach, is this…do not compare your day 1 to someone’s day 391. I knew this from long ago when I started to become a serious runner. I wanted to get started and run the half marathon at paces of others who had been training and doing them for years. A running friend shared the same thing with me and it totally makes sense. If we do start to do that, we are going to make ourselves crazy and will definitely experience disaster. The mindset when working on things in life is crucial and with the mindset that you are not good enough because the model you compared to is a very seasoned, experienced person…will cause you to fail. Instead, what if you compare yourself to…yourself! What if you just mark milestones along your journey and take note of changes and progress you have made within your own self. I am doing this now and I have to say…in addition to celebrating each win no matter the size, this has definitely kept me on track and motivated to not give up, even when times are tough.
  • Having a conversation with another friend just this morning in regard to this, I was reminded that we have to remember that what we see in others may not be a true reflection of real life. I think back to my marriage. We were the ones to always have the friends over for gatherings and we always had fun! We were the ones to have the best cars, the new house, the opportunities to do almost anything we wanted. We were the ones who looked like the Ken and Barbie with the beautiful daughter each day! And that was because that is what I wanted people to see…but it was not reality. We all do this. We want people to think our lives are amazing…perfect in fact because we all like attention. We are human. And, no one wants to be known as the person who has nothing and everyone has pity for them. We must remember that we are seeing everything about others through this perfect filter…and comparing ourselves to that will only make you feel worse about your situation. Although hard, we must stop and realize this and find ways to build each other up, support each other…knowing we all go through things in life and no one’s life is perfect…and stop comparing ourselves to those in the “perfect filter”.
  • And, finally, I want to remind everyone that each of us is a very unique individual and we all bring so many things to the table. The world would be very boring without each of our own talents and gifts. You may not have the most money in the world, but maybe your job is one that you feel is a calling and never planned to go into it for the money. Maybe you have been busy in life and have not had as much time to work out, causing you to have a few changes in your body, but because of the work you are doing while busy, you are actually having an impact on the world. Maybe you have so many more talents that you bring to the world than you even realize and without you as an asset to others, so many would go without. Take time to sit down and think about your own greatest assets. Write them down and keep the list visible so that when you start to feel that you are sliding into that comparison trap, you can remind yourself of all of the best things about you and stop the comparing and judgement on yourself.

I always say, we can be our own best cheerleaders, but we can also be our own worst enemies. Sometimes, we all just need to hear how we are talking, judging and comparing our own selves to others and determine if that is how we would want to communicate to our mother, our child, or our best friend. I know for me, I have enjoyed getting out, making new friends and connecting with old ones, but I keep my standards high. I don’t need to fall into the comparison trap, and I need people around me who build me up and more importantly, stop me when they hear me begin to judge myself. Who is your social circle? Who do you have by your side keeping you on track not only with your goals, but also with your own treatment of you? I challenge you to spend a little time thinking about this over the week and I will challenge myself to continue to research and learn about why we do these things to ourselves and find ways to support those who work with me so that we can definitely stop the comparison trap! Until next time! Cheri ❤️

One response to “Avoiding the Comparison Trap”

  1. Great post! It’s so important to focus on ourselves and not compare our journeys to others. Your reminder to celebrate each win and mark milestones along the way is very uplifting. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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