There is a way out of the comparison trap and here are the two steps that will help you stop comparing yourself to others.
I caught myself in the act. Again.
I COMPARED myself to someone else. And it felt terrible.
It happened last weekend as I was out on a run. It involved hiking up a ravine, running across the top of the mountain and then running down another ravine. Such fun!
As I was spiritedly descending towards the bottom of the second ravine, I spotted two young trail enthusiasts galloping energetically towards me.
We stopped. We chatted. Trail runners are an exceptionally friendly bunch!
And they excitedly shared their news of an upcoming 100 miler trail event they had entered.
I sighed. Inwardly, of course.
That was me 5 years ago.
Yes, they were half my age. And yes, they hadn’t been rehabilitating a glute niggle for the larger part of a year (as I had).
But still. I felt inadequate. Unfit. Off my game.
Which is silly really. I’d just finished a 13 km loop which had a rather large mountain and a few ravines in the middle of it. I’m hardly unfit!
And to be quite honest, by the time I got home I felt AWESOME! Accomplished! And rather clever! Which is how I normally feel after a jaunt in the mountains.
So why did that moment with the boys feel so bad?
It’s a classic case of COMPARIS0N(ITIS)..!
I COMPARED myself to these young studs. And in doing so, I JUDGED and reduced myself and my achievement to almost nothing.
Which felt crappy…
Which begs the question: why do we do it?
Why do we compare ourselves to others when we know fundamentally, IT MAKES NO SENSE! Whatsoever.
If you took the strengths of others and compared them to your weaknesses, how do you think you’d size up? And do you think this would make you feel good?
Take my example above.
Those two boys and I had absolutely nothing in common barring the fact that we were running on the same mountain.
Our intentions were different.
Our fitness levels were different.
What we ate for breakfast was no doubt different too!
Yup, if you have different ingredients for two cakes, you bake two very different cakes! Get my point?
Now, I consider myself fairly lucky in that in my line of work, I have access to a fair bit more understanding of human habits and behaviors. So, I got to notice the ridiculousness of my brief encounter with this dreaded disease and nip it in the bud. And I had the tools to slap myself back into reality (my version, at least).
Many are not that fortunate.
We live in a world fraught with images of what we “should” have, look like or be.
We’re surrounded by media that’s constantly peddling a myriad of tools to fix or improve ourselves in order to be happy (underlying message = you’re not good enough as you are).
We grew up in a society that incessantly scolded us for stepping outside of the rules. We quickly learned that being authentic is not okay.
And here we stand today. Perpetually feeling less than. Inadequate. Not enough.
And in that emotional state (and with a little help from social media), we notice the evidence of this E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.
They have more money (I don’t have enough).
She’s prettier (I’m ugly).
He’s a successful businessman (I’m a failure).
And yes – They’re better trail-runners than me (I’m unfit and inadequate).
So, is there a solution?
Exactly HOW do we find relief from this soul-sucking affliction?
Well, I believe it’s fairly simple. And not at all what you’re expecting.