I’m here to tell you a little story about a recent experience with comparison I had that was, quite frankly, utterly crap. I did feel naff about myself due to comparison, and also a bit silly for letting comparison get to me like that, when I know all the ways to reframe, and spin it into something productive, and not let is escalate.
But you know, we’re all human and have bad days, so not gonna dwell on it.
Basically what happened was what happens to every one of us at some point when we decide to push our comfort zone and opt for doing something new and scary and slightly out of our depth. I went to a three-day training intensive and knew that it was gonna be tough, I knew I’d be the shittest one there, probably also the oldest and the one body type that’s a bit akin to a fridge rather than pint-sized and muscular or long, willowy and gracefully light. And yup, I did tick all my pre-conceived boxes. I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for, and I told myself not to compare, keep in my lane, focus on myself, reframe negative self-talk but I still got caught in the comparison doom spiral lol!
After a good cry in my AirBnB after day 1, I took a deep breath and worked through a little comparison checklist that I put together for myself a few years back, based on some of Brené Brown’s books and podcasts.
Taking a moment to gather my thoughts and establish WTF is going on in the first place. Who sets this standard that I’m comparing myself against? And what is the standard anyway?!
In my particulate situation, it was a standard that I myself set for myself. According to the course prerequisites, I was good enough to be there. It’s not other people’s fault that they are better than me, it’s my skewed sense of the “standard”. So if anything, I have to call myself out for setting a silly standard and question why I can’t accept being good enough for the course as an achievement in itself?
2. Reality Check
Is this comparison realistic? Is this standard that I’m holding myself against realistic?
Listen, I won’t magically lose 15cm of my height overnight to have a more compact centre of gravity, or develop statuesque long and slender sky high legs that split in every direction. So why compare? It’s totally unrealistic. The notion that we can be everything all at once, again, total rubbish. Instead, I ought to work WITH my body and proportions, not AGAINST them. Some of the people on the course were pro-aerialists, so the fact that I am comparing myself against their skill level is like running 5k a few times a week and then thinking I feel bad compared to Usain Bolt’s achievements.
Would you want to trade places? What would be involved in trying to reach this standard that I’m holding myself up against?
This is always a big game changer for me. In this particular context, would I want to trade places with someone who is insanely advanced and performs professionally? No. I like being at home with my dog rather than working shows late into the night. I enjoyed spending my 20s dancing at festivals, going to uni and drinking a few beers after a fun shift behind the bar rather than engaging in a gruelling gymnastics training schedule. If I wanted to reach this standard now, at 36 years old, it wouldn’t be impossible, but it would mean a lot of sacrifices.
Does this comparison signal anything?
I think often, when we compare, we are only really looking for external validation. What do you think? Or indeed, we try and tap into envy or jealousy as part of our comparison because it’s an easier emotion than self-pity or sadness (getting deep now I know). In the instance of this training weekend, my comparison came up because I have this thing about always doing a good job with everything, so I wanted to do a good job at the training intensive. So there’s a hint of perfectionism there that I have yet to get rid of (again, getting deep again 🙂
After I sat down and had a little think through all of this, as well as a few text exchanges with people who lift me up, I felt better. Good in fact. Rather than compare, I could focus on why I came to the training in the first place, to challenge myself, step outside of my comfort zone and to learn. Simply by working through my comparison, I had achieved those first two objectives, I had challenged myself and stepped outside of my comfort zone. So the easy part was then to just show up and learn.
As always, this is just some anec-data, and my story isn’t science, it’s simply a little thing I use when I compare myself to others. I thought I would share, and perhaps some of these steps might help you