The Comparison Trap (and how to get out of it)
Last night a friend of mine told me about an upcoming event in our area that a local yoga studio is putting on and I immediately went to the website to check out what the event was all about.
What I saw was a beautifully laid out website with pleasing aesthetics and a detailed description of the day long event. The event coordinator had thought of everything from organic food to enticing swag bags. To say I was impressed was an understatement.
I then went on to see the glossy black and white pictures of the presenters of the event and read their well articulated and carefully constructed bios. And that’s when I could feel my own self worth diminish a little more with each one I read until I came to the end and was left feeling inadequate and bombarded with thoughts of, “what’s wrong with me” “they are so much further along then me” “I don’t have what it takes to be successful”.
There I had spiraled completely out of control in my head and was no longer in my own power because I fell into the comparison trap.
What’s interesting about this trap is that nothing about the woman in charge or the speakers invited to speak at her event had NOTHING to do with me and yet I certainly made it ALL about me.
And THAT is the comparison trap.
Can you relate?
I was standing in my kitchen cooking dinner and feeling ALL of the feelings; shame, inadequacy, and fear (which is a triple threat of self destruction) and because I just spent last week with my own mindset coach on a 4 day retreat I was hyper aware of what was happening.
Normally I would let this take me down for the night and maybe even into the next day (and at others times it might take me a week to bounce back) but I stood in my kitchen and asked myself, “are you going to let this effect you? are you going to let this take you down? because THIS IS the work.” And by “work” I mean this is EVERYTHING we talked about last week while I was on the retreat with my coach.
It’s not just comparison, it’s anytime you let something outside of yourself dictate your worthiness. It can be money, your career, your partner, your finances, your yoga practice, how many miles you can run, your children’s accomplishments, your diet, and the list goes on and on.
Did you know your brain cannot think two opposing thoughts at the same time?
Gordana Biernat says, “Your frequency is either negative (FEAR) or positive (LOVE). It cannot be both at the same time. It is your choice.”
Standing in my kitchen last night I knew I was at a crossroads of choice and I got the opportunity to make one.
It’s SO EASY to make the choice of self-loathing because 1) our brains are hardwired for the negative and 2) there is something familiar and comfortable about spiraling into despair. This may sound dramatic but from my experience of working on my own mindset and coaching many women for well over a decade . . . many of us are addicted to our stories.
Think about it. How many times have you stayed in a situation or relationship because the fear of change was greater than the possibility of a better outcome?
Back to me standing in my kitchen . . .
First, I realized what I was doing (That’s the first step is having awareness. Without awareness, the rest cannot follow).
Second, I told myself, “okay baby girl, you have a choice. Which story (fear or love) are you going to choose?”
Third, I contemplated staying in the self destructive story because quit honestly it felt like a warm blanket I could pull over myself to be unhappy. (oh how our stories can be addictive!)
Fourth, I made a decision to not participate in that shit. ( that’s one of my FAVORITE mindset mantras I use to break unhealthy thinking patterns that I invite you to partake in if if rings true for you)
Fifth, I was really, really kind and compassionate to myself. This is the step when I get to rally behind myself and remind myself how truly awesome I am. I’m not going to lie, in this exact moment I didn’t really feel much like being my biggest cheerleader but I did it anyway.
And lastly, when my beloved came home without knowing what kind of headspace I was in, he put on one of our favorite songs to sing to each other dramatically. (if you are wondering, it’s All My Life by K-Ci & JoJo)
That last one is part of the decision to stay committed to not participating in the BS my mind throws at me. I could have easily told him, “oh, honey, I’m not in the mood to play right now, I’m very depressed and I feel inadequate because I looked on a carefully curated website and I am judging my self worth based on what I saw.” But I played along and chose love because you can’t sing K-Ci and JoJo and be in fear at the same time.
The next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else and you feel your self worth start to diminish, I invite you to consider choosing a different story.