Episode 21: The Comparison Trap
The Comparison Trap
You are listening to the Confidence Catalyst Podcast episode 21: The Comparison Trap LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles
Welcome back my friends! Happy Thursday or whatever day it is that you’re listening to this, I hope it’s a good one. It’s officially August now and with that I’ve declared it my birthday month, which, if you don’t know me, is a really big deal. I love any reason to celebrate and plan get togethers but I especially love pulling the birthday month card. “yeah, I can’t do that, it’s birthday month.” right? If you haven’t established your own birthday month you’re missing out. It’s a super fun tradition, at least I love it.
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Okay, today, we’re talking about comparison and the trap that it is. It’s a trap because it seems to easy, so justifiable, so automatic but then it ensnares you and you’re left feeling less than, small, and sometimes like the scum of the earth. We’ve all been there. I don’t think there’s been a human on the planet that hasn’t fallen prey to the comparison trap so you know how terrible it feels and how pointless it actually is.
It starts with looking around at the people in our circle, the people on our social media feed, our family and friends even too. And we start noticing ourselves and them and then we start comparing ourselves and our place in the world with them and what they’re doing and then this turns into self-doubt, fear, worry, and you guessed it, insecurities galore.
Super fun, is it not. It’s really is a trap. You get caught up in this endless loop of noticing what they’re doing and you’re not, who they are and who you’re not, what things they have and you don’t have, and it’s just so disempowering and will keep you stuck and miserable.
Are you stuck?
Besides the obvious problems comparison brings, it also keeps you from moving forward with your own life. How many times have you stopped yourself from moving forward because someone else has already done that and in your eyes they did it even better? How many times have you let comparison stop you from your own progression?
And I’m not just referring to big dreams and goals although yes, that’s a part of it too. I’m talking about just simply getting up and doing what you normally would do. Something even simple like getting off the couch and setting your phone down to go do the dishes. But when you’re stuck in the comparison trap you don’t even want to do the little things. Instead the dishes can stay and you head for the freezer to look for Ben and Jerry’s to wallow with you.
Comparing is natural
Let’s look at comparison for a minute because it’s not all bad. From the time we’re really little we learn to compare ourselves with others. It’s our way of learning to make senses of things and to figure out our place in the world, how we’re doing, if we’re doing it right, could we be doing it better? We all compare and comparing isn’t entirely the bad guy. It’s not the villain.
What makes it negative and puts you in a bad spin is the meaning you attach to it. Think about something you don’t really care about. For me, that’s cars. I’m not into cars. While cars are wonderful and I love that someone invented such an amazing machine that can take me great distances and keep me comfortable all the while. Do I want to work with cars? No thanks. Totally doesn’t interest me at all. So I could compare myself to an auto mechanic and think, “They’re better at cars than I am”. But this thought doesn’t bother me because I don’t want to be good at cars. However, when it comes to something you value greatly and you think you should be good at it and then you see someone else doing what you want to be doing then you start making it a problem. Then it’s not just about what they’re doing, what they have, who they are. It becomes what you’re not doing, or not doing enough of, it’s what you don’t have and what you think you need to be happy, and it’s who they are and who you’re not.
This is the trap. It’s when we attach our self-worth to accomplishments and operate from the pie mentality. This is when you deep down believe that there’s this pie and that if they have a piece of it, then that’s less for you, that means you might not get any and that’s a problem because you believe the pie will make you happy. You need the pie to be whole and so if they’re taking from it, you’re in trouble. It’s not fun.
You have POWER
You have way more power than you realize in this situation. You’re both the problem and the solution which is great news because feeling pangs of envy, jealousy, and this scarcity can help you identify and become aware of things that you really want and need. I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth noting again because what you really, really want isn’t ever a thing.
It’s not all the money, it’s not the smaller weigh size, it’s not the perfect house and housekeeper that comes with it. Truly, it’s none of those things. What it is is how you think you’d feel when you got what you wanted. For example, if you were envious of a sibling and their relationship with your parents. You might start comparing. Maybe you might think things like, that’s not fair! My parents just saw them last week and now they’re having dinner over there again! Well, she does have an epic house, it is always super clean and amazing, they are better off than I am. And on and on those thought can go.
You are both the problem and the solution
But when you stand back for a moment you can see that you are both the problem and the solution. You can see that the problem is because you’re making it a problem. You believe that you need all those things to be happy but what you miss is that what you really, really want isn’t any of those things – what you really really want is how you’d feel if you had them. If you had a clean, rocking house and a bigger bank account you might feel successful. If your parents came to visit you more often you might feel thought of, and loved.
The problem is in your thinking about the circumstances. It’s that she has something that you want and you think you need that to be happy. But when you can stand back and see what it is you’re really wanting, what it is you’re making it mean about you then you have a road map to get what you really want.
You can also be the solution because only you have the power to change this. Once you find out what you really, really want then you can start creating that for yourself. You can start feeling how you want to and then from that space you’ll go and do and create the results you want because feelings don’t come from things. Feelings come from your thoughts. You create the feeling of being loved, cared for, thought of, successful, confident, and joyful.
You might think it’d be easier if you had those things to feel that way but I can tell you from my work that people that have what you think you want still don’t feel fabulous because they’re struggling with their own thoughts. The things never create your feelings. You have to learn to create those on your own first.
So how do you even do that? There’s 4 steps that you can take to get you out of the comparison trap.
Awareness is first
The first is that awareness that I talked about. You have to know what your mind is creating for you. What problem you’re making. You have to see that THEY aren’t the problem. The problem is what you’re making it mean about you. It’s not painful for you to see something you’re not into or don’t care too much about. But when it’s something of value to you, something you think you’re missing then it can become painful because you’ll make it mean something negative about you.
So start with that awareness. Start noticing what your pain points are and why you’re making it a problem.
Take BACK your power
The second step is taking back your power. You have to own that the way you’re feeling isn’t because of what you’re lacking or what you think you’re lacking. It’s because you’re making it a problem. Your thoughts are creating suffering for you. It’s not the thing, it’s not the person, it’s not the accomplishments it’s your thinking that is creating the pain. When you can own that you are the one creating the problem and not them. Really, it’s not a problem they’re 102 lbs. It’s not a problem they’re rocking it in their endeavors. It’s not a problem that they have a Hallmark looking relationship with family. Truly, it’s not a problem. The only problem is what you’re thinking about those things. How you’re choosing to interpret this things. It’s all in your head and that’s really good to know because if you’re creating it you can uncreate it when you’re ready.
This is what I mean by taking back your power. You have to let go of thinking that it’s the thing, the person, the whatever outside of you that’s making you feel unworthy and less than because it’s not. It’s just your line of thinking that’s making you feel so bad. And if it’s you, you hold the power to change direction when and if you want to.
Draw out a roadmap
Step three is drawing out your roadmap. Like I mentioned before comparing doesn’t have to mean bad. It can stand as a tool to get you in touch with your inner most desires. The things you’re in pain over give you light and insight into what you want the most. Remember, it’s not the thing you want but the feeling you’d have if you got what you wanted.
If you’re comparing yourself to that friend that gets all the recognition and praise you have to figure out what you really really want. Maybe that’s to feel validated and noticed. You can give that to yourself. You can notice, love, appreciate, validate yourself and when you think those thoughts and believe them you can jump straight into step four. CREATING what you want.
Create what you REALLY want
This is what we often get this mixed up. We think we need the close relationship, we need the bigger bank account, we need the smaller waist size and then we can be happy. But this is mixed up because things don’t create our feelings. So instead once you have your road map of the things you’d like to have, you then intentionally and deliberately think thoughts that create the feelings you want. You can create love, belonging, validation for yourself and because you feel that love, then you’ll start creating. You’ll take action towards getting you closer to getting that result. Then you’ll go out and do those bigger, amazing things.
Comparing doesn’t have to be bad. It doesn’t have to keep you stuck. On the contrary it can propel you forward if you’ll let it. I know a lot of articles and advice tells you what to DO and not do. They want to tell you to STOP looking at social media. AVOID those interactions where you’ll be temped to compare. And this isn’t actually going to help you. You’re still going to have those inner desires. You’ll still want those feelings.
Manage your mind
So instead working on your mind, working on your thought work and managing your mind instead of letting it run a muck will help you towards creating the life you love.
I love seeing others out there rocking their businesses, spending amazing time with extended family, going on incredible trips, and doing remarkable things in the world. It inspires me. For me, I think, if they can do that, so can I and instead of focusing on lack I focus on the only thing I have control over, and that’s what I want to think about it, what I want to FEEL, and what I want to create.
– William Blake once wrote,
“I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.”
The trick is not to indulge – not to overthink it
Follow these steps. Don’t freak out the next time you notice yourself starting to compare. The trick is to not indulge in comparing. Indulging will keep you trapped and stuck and unable to progress. But if you follow these steps to manage your mind, to limit the problem making and to focus on creation. You can use comparison to propel you forward.
– Glennon Doyle Melton said, “We’re only envious of those already doing what we were made to do. Envy is a giant, flashing arrow pointing us toward our destiny.”
Use those desires, thoughts, and wishes to create a life you love. Don’t use them to put yourself down, to create a problem when there doesn’t have to be one. Isn’t it great that you hold that power? That you get to decide whether a thought is elevated into a problem or turned into motivation towards growth?
Focus on what you do have. The power to create what you really, really want no matter what the circumstance is. That’s incredible that you can have what you really, really want at anytime, no matter where, no matter what’s happening around you.
Remember, it’s these steps:
2.) take back your power
3.) draw out your roadmap
4.) start creating
Comparing can be a tool for good. It’s only a problem if you make it a problem and do you really want to do that to yourself? Instead start inquiring. Start looking inward at what you really want and use them as an example of what is possible. Then go out and start creating.
Okay, that’s what I’ve got for you this week! Have a fantastic week. Don’t forget to jump on my birthday present and snag your membership for the less than a taco bell run! Until next week!
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