How would your life change if you could stop comparing yourself to others and if you believed you are perfect just as you are?
The majority of human beings on this planet struggle with comparison at one time or another.
So in this episode, we’re diving in to how to stop comparing yourself to others once and for all.
When you stop the “compare and despair” you can start making decisions for yourself that you truly want.
You can stop seeing other people get promoted and think “why not me?”
Once you let go of the comparison game you can just be (and celebrate!) you.
You can start to really go after what you want and not worry what other people think.
What You’ll Learn
Why we compare ourselves to others (it starts even younger than you might think)
How comparison effects the way you show up at work and in your relationships
Common pitfalls and why the way we compare ourselves just isn’t fair
How to stop comparing and really embrace you for you, understanding that you are already enough
How to approach growth and improvement from a healthier place
Featured in This Episode
Journaling questions to help you start letting go of the comparing behavior can be found at 13:14 in the recording or transcript.
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Welcome to Navigating Your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence.
Let’s get started.
Hello, welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. I’m so happy to be here with you today. We are going to talk about something that comes up a lot, as in the majority of human beings on this planet struggle with this at one time or another. And that is comparing yourself to other people or more specifically, how to not compare yourself to others and let that drive your decisions, your beliefs about yourself and what you think you should or should not be doing, achieving, looking, being, all of the things.
When I work with my clients on this, it is coming up because they find themselves seeing other people achieving a promotion and then they think, why aren’t I being promoted? I have more experience, I’m better qualified. And then they use someone else’s achievement as a way to put themselves down. Or maybe you look at another person’s family or personal life and wonder why you don’t have that. When we compare ourselves to others and get a feeling of jealousy, that can be an indicator that whatever it is is something that we actually want for ourselves, but it can also be a way that we criticize ourselves and use this as evidence that we aren’t good enough.
We start looking outside of ourselves for what could make us happy instead of really understanding what does make us happy. And this is what I see the most: talented, amazing people who have accomplished so much and are actually happy with where they are on some level but at the root, don’t feel like it’s enough because they are looking at what society has taught them, their parents, their friends and work influences to define what they should want for themselves.
This is so common. So if this is you, first of all, you are not alone. And we are going to break this down a bit and I’m going to help you stop comparing yourself to others today. So keep listening for an exercise later in this episode that is really going to help you make some progress and let go of this behavior. So this behavior of comparing goes back to when you were a baby. When you were born, little cute you, you were just you, your most authentic self without any shaping of society, people or environment.
Then along the way, someone told you that you needed to wear pants because, well, you can’t be naked. And you noticed what was celebrated by people you cared about. And you on some level wanted those things too. You wanted to be celebrated. You go to school and you get good grades. Everyone compares, you’re all ranked high to low. This type of thing happens with every part of your life as you grow up. Think about it with your friends, your romantic relationships, the TV shows you watch, what your caretakers prioritized, the expectations put on you.
All of these things push you farther away from your authentic self, that little baby. So this cycle continues. You go to college, you get more rankings, get a job, you get rated with a number or words against your peers. Promotions tell you who is excelling and who isn’t. If you are a parent who is trying to do it all, you can feel like you’re not meeting the expectations of anyone.
You scroll through social media and see other moms who seem to have it all together. If only you had time to take your kids to the pumpkin patch. Am I right? You feel like you should just be a better person. You should spend more time with the kids. You should have more time with your spouse. You should be at home more. You should have better parents, more friends, a nicer house. You should get that promotion.
You look at your coworkers and think, how do they just go up and do that? How are they getting ahead and I’m not? You should know what you want, be crushing it and recognized for it, right? It’s like a never ending you are not enough, just as you game. Think about this. Think about what your day is like when all day long you are comparing yourself to other people in big ways and in small ways, in ways that you might not even notice, then judging yourself and all of the roles you play in a day against others. You take the highlight reel of someone at work, the highlight reel of someone in your personal life, the highlight reel of someone at the gym.
And then you compare, you wrap them up into one person. And do you measure up to that? If you feel great about your work, but you tell someone in your life and they say, “Oh, don’t you want more? Or when’s your next promotion? What’s the next big thing you’re working towards?” Then you start questioning yourself. Something you felt really good about no longer feels good. This wears on you, it can cause stress and feelings of lack, feelings of not good enough, just not enough in general.
When you’re thinking you’re not enough in any way, you’re showing up differently with your partner, at work, with your family, with your friends, as a parent. Let’s say at work, you aren’t recognized for something that you did. If you are already thinking you’re not enough, you will be more likely to be upset about this and assume the negative, that you aren’t appreciated and it’s unfair. You notice Suzy over there was recognized and not you.
And suddenly that means something negative about you. Where if you came from a place of being enough, you wouldn’t need that recognition as much. If there was an oversight, you could see it as an oversight and notice all of the other ways that you are recognized. Same with your home life. When you already think you’re failing or just not as good as Mary over there who seems to have the perfect marriage and be the perfect mom. When you’re on Facebook and you see Mary’s perfect family photo or Mary baking with her kids, it can trigger you.
It’s totally normal and human to compare yourself. Like I said, we all do it or have done it. It is how we are all raised and conditioned. So no wonder you’re sitting here as an accomplished, talented professional wondering why you’re still struggling with this. Why can’t you just get over it? I get it. I remember being my daughter’s age, she’s eleven now, and wanting different hair. I permed my straight hair to make it curly. I died my blond hair red and brown sometimes.
Now I’m just trying to keep it blond and keep my gray away. You’re always wanting something, something different that you think it’s going to help you feel a different way. I spent years in corporate comparing myself to everyone, using other people’s benchmarks for myself, while also thinking that I was really great and pretty much better than a lot of people at what they did. Not defining what I wanted and fearlessly going after it, but instead looking at the ladder that was there or how I can get that next promotion.
How can I be seen as valuable? I thought I was very talented. I was doing something no one else was doing and I would see other people passing me by that I didn’t think were nearly as talented. And I would get so frustrated. I was constantly comparing. And that stopped me from being able to really be happy where I was while I was working towards that bigger thing. It’s totally normal. And I want to teach you how to stop comparing and really embrace you for you, to let go of the demanding expectations.
I want you to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and love the person looking back at you, to know that you’re a great person, parent, a great spouse, an exceptional professional, just a great person all around because you are. So I want you to think about this. How many people do you think are comparing themselves to you? Are you thinking about it, is it a big number? Do you think people wish that they had your spouse, your body, your intelligence, wish they had your family, that they were as beautiful as you or as handsome as you, that they had your job, that they were as good at their job as you are at yours?
I promise there are many people that think this about you. There is no one like you whose hair flies in the wind like yours, whose body moves just like yours, whose smile is like yours, whose family is just like yours. There is no one who can parent your kids like you, who can do your job the way that you do it, whose brain works like yours. You are a gift. You are created for a reason, and you are meant to be here to grace all of us with your presence.
I’m totally serious. Yet we fill ourselves with expectations of how life is supposed to be, how we are supposed to be, what a parent is supposed to be. No one has a better life than you. No one is doing it right or doing it wrong. We’re all just here coexisting equally. You take up the same beautiful space as the person that you envy. There are times that everything is amazing and there are times that it isn’t, and the sooner that we accept this, the sooner we can cope in a way that is healthy and stop thinking other people have it better off, the better off we will be.
If something didn’t go well, that’s OK. If you truly want the promotion and didn’t get it, it doesn’t mean you aren’t as good as Jack. It’s just that it’s not your time and we try again. How many times do we hear of the beautiful celebrity who has mental health issues, drug problems, or was gone way too soon? Others could look at them and think, I wish I had their money.
I wish I had their life. What do they have to be unhappy about? But unhappiness exists for everyone. No one is immune. We all have human brains and emotions and feelings. There is no perfect family, perfect marriage, perfect person. You are as perfect as the person you compare yourself to. And you might say, well, then why even try to improve myself at all, then? What’s the point of goals or trying to be better?
But that is coming from a place that says that you are improving to be happy. But what if growth and improvement isn’t for happiness, but it’s for the sake of being the best that we can be? What if we tried new things because they were hard and we wanted to test our capability, not because the grass is greener? We have to stop comparing and shoulding so that we really embrace ourselves, be more fulfilled and show the world all that we have to offer.
I had to walk this road, too, and I know it always isn’t easy. I grew up with troubled parents and was on the train to should have had a better set of parents for many years. I’m tall and I grew up quicker than the boys, and I thought I should have been shorter. My body was curvy and I thought I should have been like Kate Moss, which for the younger crowd listening. She was a model from like, I don’t even know, I think the 90s.
So once you let go of the comparing, you can just look at you. Then you can embrace yourself in your situation without comparing it to others and determine the boundaries you need to set at home and at work. You can see how you’re different in the most amazing way and that that is on purpose. You can get back in touch with the authentic version of you before it was shaped by all of the external influences. Consider this your official permission slip to let go of all of this weight and just be you. To like what you like, to want what you want and be who you want to be.
Now, to help you work through this, I have some action steps for you. I want you to grab a journal. Write down these questions and work through them. They will help you process everything in this episode today and start letting go of the comparing behavior. If it’s easier, you can just go to the show notes and look at the transcript and these will all be laid out for you there. Just go to my website at www.melissamlawrence.com/46 to access this episode’s transcript.
OK, here are some questions for you to work through. What do you think should be different about you? How would your life be better or different if these things changed? Where did you get the idea that this should be different? How credible is that idea? Is it a fact? Is it true or is it just an opinion? Choose one thought you have about how you should be different, something that you compare yourself to others frequently. Now I want you to think about how this thought makes you feel.
I’m guessing not great. So what is another way that you could look at this thought? What is another thought you could have that would serve you better, that wouldn’t it make you feel so bad? Now, I want you to consider that you believe me or that you want to believe me, that you are just as you are intended, and that where you are is perfect, that you don’t need to be anyone else right now. That others compare themselves to you too.
How would your life change if you really believed this? These questions, if you take the time to process them, will provide you a lot of insight into where your comparison comes from and how true it actually is. You get to see how it’s impacting you and how you can be happier and let go of this if you want to. All right, that is all for this week’s episode. Now, if you loved this episode, I want to ask you to do me a favor and tell me what you loved about it by leaving a review on Apple podcast.
If you have Apple podcast or are listening there now, just scroll to the bottom and you can tap a five star rating, leave a comment sharing your takeaways or what you loved about the podcast and I will take a look. That would mean so much to me. Thank you so much. All right. I will talk to you all next week.
I get asked all of the time, how do I know if I’m in the right career? Now you can find out. I created a free quiz using my criteria for what makes a great job fit. You can take the quiz at my website www.melissamlawrence.com.
And in less than three minutes, you’ll know the answer so you can stop guessing and take some action. And as a bonus, if your job isn’t a great fit, you’ll get some resources to help you decide what to do about it. Head there now.