Comparison: The Nasty Thief of Joy

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Hi, love! Today we’re chatting all things comparison trap — you know, when you feel like everybody else has it better than you. I’ve recruited lots of my brilliant friends to share what they do when comparison trap strikes. So get cozy and read on…

Comparison: The Nasty Thief of Joy

Do you ever feel bad about yourself after what you see someone else doing on social media? Maybe you feel like your business isn’t as successful, your pictures aren’t as pretty, or your hair just doesn’t lay quite the same way as hers.

We’ve all been there. I don’t believe someone who says she hasn’t ; )

This super fun phenomenon is known on the streets as “comparison trap” and it hits us like a nasty flu virus when we least expect it.

Comparison trap is the feeling that pops up when you’re doing your thing, feeling pretty good, and then BAM! Up pops someone on your feed who looks like she’s got it better.

And just like that, you go from feeling good to feeling like you don’t belong.

The thoughts instantly come racing in…

There’s already someone out there doing what I’m doing… why even bother? I should just quit now.

She’s [insert positive comment about her: pretty, rich, lucky, skinny, smart, funny, magnetic] and I’m not… that’s why she’s been successful and I won’t be.

She’s got it all going on… everything just seems to be harder for me. She’s so lucky.

I used to think comparison trap strikes were totally random. I was in the middle of a perfectly good day when BOOM! All of the sudden I felt totally deflated.

But then I noticed a pattern. The things I tended to ‘notice’ about others online usually related to some insecurity or deeply-held belief I had about myself.

This wasn’t totally random — it was deeply subconscious. And I was essentially ‘looking’ for confirmation that my internal thoughts were right. Because if I could just confirm that I was right, all of my inadequacies would be explained.

And since we see what everybody is up to 24/7 nowadays, it’s a lot easier to go looking for that confirmation.

As if this wasn’t fun enough already, comparison trap makes us feel guilty, ashamed and lonely for even feeling this way.

I don’t know about you, but I feel even worse after comparing myself to others. Not just because I fall into the same cycle as “I’m not as good as… she’s already doing….” trap, but because I then feel guilty about ever even thinking negatively about “her” in the first place.

But really, when we have these thoughts about someone’s life we see online, it’s not really about that at all. It’s usually about something coming up within us.

I take it as a reminder to get back to working on my own stuff, and not worrying so much about others.

how to stop comparing yourself to others

Comparison Trap Example

Here’s a perfectly real scenario, plus a few steps I take afterwards to try to shake things up a bit:

I’m cozied up in my office, working on a blog post, when I decide to pick up my phone and check-in on Instagram. I’m scrolling through when someone pops up on my feed with a huge following, promoting her latest great news. I go from feeling totally OK, to feeling like there’s no point in even trying to grow my business. Why try when clearly she’s already doing it better?

And then all of the judgment sets in. AKA. What I make this experience mean about me. I have fewer followers because I must be less likeable. I have fewer speaking engagements because people don’t want me to speak. I wasn’t asked to be on that podcast because I’m not ‘big’ enough.  And I’m not big enough because clearly I’m not good enough.

For a brief moment, the negative self-talk sets in and I also beat myself up for feeling this way. “Why can’t you be more open and accepting? Why can’t you just be happy for other people’s successes? I know you’re not that type of person — so why are you acting like it?

And here’s how I deal with it.

1 // Feel The Feeling

I take a breath. I accept the way I’m feeling. This part is key: you can’t fight your feelings. They’re there for a reason. You have to welcome them in and embrace them. It’s normal to feel this way. As my friend Simi would say, what’s abnormal is how much we’re seeing what everyone else is doing on social ; )

This first step made a huge difference for me recently. Before, I would try to shoo the feelings away. I used to feel bad for feeling the way I did. I tried to shoo my feelings away, but it never worked. I would just get more and more frustrated at myself for not being able to quit it.

2 // Confirmation Seeking?

I get honest with myself about whether I was subconsciously looking for confirmation about some deeply held belief about myself. If so, what is that belief? Where do I think it’s coming from? How’s it making me feel? What can I do to address it?

3 // Change It Up

Next, I make a simple change in whatever I’m physically doing. If possible, I take a walk, shower, or go do something entirely unrelated to business. It really helps me to talk things through, so I may reach out to a friend who understands. Especially someone who lets you just process it.

4 // You Are What You See, Hear, and Read

I’m also a strong believer in protecting what you see and hear each day. I’ve intentionally curated my social feeds to see content that has nothing to do with business or my ideal clients. Since I’m obsessed with cooking, I’ve filled my feed with chefs, restaurants, travel food blogs, and lots of my favorite food bloggers again. I’ve also added some interior design/house renovation and travel stuff, since those are all hobbies outside of business.

It’s kind of funny how things happen. Before I had my own business, my feed was filled with all of those things. But as my business grew, it’s like me and my business became one. I’ve heard that from many friends, too: when you’re a personal brand, you’ve got to be conscious not to make your entire life about the brand.

And make no mistake about it. I’m not cured of comparison trap-itis at all. I just had a heavy bout of it last week. But these tools are definitely making the moments a little easier to navigate.

But since I’m only 2 years in to business, and I have friends much wiser than me, I turned to them to ask, “What do you do when comparison trap strikes?”

Here’s what they had to say about comparison trap…

“Anytime I feel myself start to go down the comparison rabbit hole, I remind myself that it means I’m more plugged in to someone else’s life (or what I perceive her life to be) than my own. So, I trade comparison for connection with myself! I try asking a few simple, gentle questions to guide myself back like… ‘what do you need more or less of in your life today?’ or ‘if you felt fully enough, what would you be inspired to do right now?’ Questions like these always helps me refocus back!” – Simi Botic

“When comparison strikes I try to recognize where it’s coming from. If I can catch myself doing it, I try to reframe and think “ooh interesting, is this something I want?” and I’m grateful that I learned something new about myself. Or if I’m not in the best head space, I know it’s time to step away from social media and focus on what’s going on in real life.” – Georgie Morley of In It 4 The Long Run

“I remind myself that there’s only one me. NOBODY now or ever can do it the way that I can. And that’s pretty empowering. I am also a fan of gathering information and then using it as powerful data. Not as a club to beat myself up with. Knowing what your competition is doing is required. But using it to make yourself feel shitty is just a really bad choice.” – Sara of Kickass Masterminds

“If I find myself starting to feel that comparison trap, I do a few things. First, I try to think or list out the reasons I admire other people in my field or anyone doing anything great out in the world. Sometimes I’ll go so far as to tell them via email or DM. After that, I limit my time on social media. As soon as that’s done, I try to read a book or make something for myself (sketch, design, take photos). I find that those things tend to make all of those jealous feelings go away.” – Allie Lehman of The Wonder Jam

“I take a step back and honour the feeling for a moment. I used to guilt trip myself every time that feeling would come up, which would only make it worse. Then, I ask my questions. I try my hardest to do the shadow work and uncover where these feelings are coming from? Because the biggest thing I’ve learned is that feelings of comparison are never about the thing or the person. It’s about what we feel we’re lacking and how we think we’ll feel if we had the thing we see. It’s only through digging deep, getting honest and working through those emotions that we get to the other side. Polarity creates clarity.” – Naomi of The Lifestyle Edit

“Unplug and tune out the noise! Focus on myself and what I have to offer others.” – Rachel Ngom

“This is something I struggle with hardcore. I try to remember that social streams are highlight reals and that everyone is in a different place on their journey. I take it back to what I’m grateful for and that always grounds me 🙂 A good quote with comparison to switch to inspiration is, ‘if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.'” – Alexis Joseph of Hummusapien

“I try to put blinders on and look less at what everyone else is doing. This allows me to focus on validating myself and my own way of doing things. We are all exposed to SO much of everyone else’s lives, more than is healthy, and we need to put up our own boundaries.” – Jamie Mendell

“I step away from all social media and turn inwards I look at everything I have accomplished, everything I love about me, read my client testimonials, cards from friends, and start a gratitude list then start to write out all my intentions for the next week/month/year and who I want to be to make that happen. – Sophie Kessner

“My response is pretty simple. I pause, recognize that I’m comparing, and get back in my own lane… meaning, I stop thinking about or looking at whatever it is that is making me compare, and I remember that me being true to myself is the most important thing. I remember that we all have gifts to share, and that when we compare to others, we end up following their gifts and not our own. ?” – Paige Schmidt 

“I intentionally take a step back from wherever i find myself comparing (like Instagram, for example), and then i try my best to come at the comparison from a place of curiosity vs self-judgement. Which, by the way, can be totally uncomfortable! But that’s where some real juicy insights can happen. I like to ask myself questions like: Is comparing myself to this person adding to my life or not? What is it costing me? What needs to shift so i have a more positive experience? Answers to these simple questions can be like a little roadmap of what to do next.” – Cameron Simcik

Before We Go

I hope this post was helpful for you. If for nothing else but to make you feel less alone. You are so not alone. Each and every girl boss friend I reached out to has experienced this on her end.

In the comments, I’d love to hear from you: how do you deal with comparison trap when it strikes? Do you have any go-to tips that help you? Did you have any breakthroughs in reading through this post? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! ??

And before we go, I want to share these additional resources with you…

Additional Resources:

Amy Young had a great, straight-talk podcast episode about what to do when you’re in comparison mode.

Questions to ask yourself when you feel like everything is awful.

How to shake off comparison trap.

Can’t wait to hear from you below. 

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  1. I shared on Simi’s amazing Beautifully Imperfect Facebook group how I’m realizing myself falling prey to comparison more often lately. My husband and I are in search of our first home, so I think I’m a little vulnerable when I see people our age buying much larger or more expensive homes, having kids, etc. She and some of the group’s community gave me some amazing feedback, and Simi shared this post as well. It helped me a great deal! Thank you.

    1. Hi Kor!! Thank you so much for sharing that. I can totally understand why this time would make you feel that way. I remember feeling the same way when we were searching for our first home, and I definitely feel it now about the business, seeing other people having kids, etc. I get it! I’m so glad you found this helpful, and that you’re in Simi’s incredible community. She’s the BEST! <3 xo

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