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Are you playing the comparison game?

Jan 25, 2020

‘Just be you’ I whisper to my son as he takes to the football field. He’s 10 and has a strong desire to lead, play well, show up, work hard and win. (Yes win, I know it’s a dirty word to some but in our household striving for the win and handling losing with humility is part of building resilience and getting ready for the real world.)

The first time I said it was at a football tournament and we were losing 3-1 in a match that was going to take us to the semi finals. On the side line we could see the boys heads were down and Jack was taking the world on his shoulders. He was subbed off and he came over for a hug. His mind started racing and before I knew it he had talked himself in to losing the game and being knocked out of the tournament. I gave him the ‘its not over ‘til its over’ chat and reminded him of other sports teams that had been losing only to win in spectacular come backs in the dying minutes of the glorious game. His coach told him to get ready. He was going back on. As he ran back out to his team mates I told him to relax and ‘just be you’. That kid scored a hat trick in the space of 10 minutes and they went on to the next round.

‘Just be you’ has become our ‘thing’. Just that little reminder that being himself is all that the world needs. When he shows up as himself, putting aside what other people are doing and plays his own game, regardless of the score he wins. Regardless of the score, his friends benefit. Regardless of the score he is being true to himself.

How many times do you look at your friends, friends of friends, work colleagues, family members, Facebook and Insta posts and wish you could be like them? At best it can be used as an inspiration but more commonly makes you feel inadequate, like something is missing or that you aren’t quite enough.

How many of you look back at old pictures of yourself when you were fitter, stronger, leaner and happier? Comparing yourself to how you were 20 years ago is a dangerous game. It’s often difficult to come to terms with the fact you’re competing with a memory. A moment in time when your circumstances will almost certainly be totally different to your current situation. We have a habit of looking back at the ‘good old days’ with rose tinted glasses so it invariably adds salt to the wound.

Comparison has been described as the ‘thief of joy’. I believe it dampens the soul and brings unnecessary stress to an already overloaded mind. Not only that it brings about a victim mentality and breeds resentment. Who wants to live in a headspace like that? No thanks!

To a certain degree its unrealistic to think that we can eradicate comparison all together but we can certainly take a look at using it to our advantage.


So what can we do about it?

Become aware

As with everything, awareness is key. Awareness is the gift that keeps giving! Its the starting point of every personal development journey. Becoming aware of our behaviours opens our eyes and frees us from doing what we have always done.
Along with awareness comes forgiveness. We are often so hard on ourselves for thinking certain things (especially if we are comparing ourselves to people we love.) Understand that you’re only human and cut yourself a break.


Take action

It’s one thing having awareness, its another to do nothing with it. It’s like sitting down with a Mars Bar and can of Coke reading the latest book on healthy living. Taking action is your next step to playing the comparison game on YOUR terms.

When you find yourself comparing yourself negatively to others STOP and make a note of what hand you’re holding.

Are you playing the victim card?

‘They have always had more money to do the fun stuff’ ‘They have always had it easy’ ‘It’s not fair, I’ve always struggled with my weight, she’s lucky and always been able to eat what she likes and get away with it’ ‘I wish I could be like that but I can’t because…..’

Are you playing the blame card?

‘They are lucky, they had parents that supported them and my parents were never interested’ ‘If I didn’t have the kids arguing all the time I would be able to do that’

Once you recognise how you tick take a breath and STOP IT.


Stop it

Once you catch yourself and realise you are in the game, STOP IT. Literally stop yourself in your tracks. Turn it around. Look at what YOU have right now. Look at the goals you have for yourself, the values you hold dear and the relationships that you have fostered and be grateful for all the things that you have achieved to date.


Be honest

Are you comparing like for like? I know the answer is no. How? Because every single one of us is unique. Every single one of us has our own BS that we are carrying, our own view of the world, our own incredible talents, our unique gifts and our frustrating quirks. You can’t possibly become your neighbour, the insta model, or the latest online guru.

What you CAN do is become clear on who you are, what you stand for and set clear goals on what you want to achieve.

What you CAN do is take responsibility for your own life and take steps EVERY DAY consistently to become more of the person that you want to be.

You CAN compare yourself to the progress you have made.

You CAN remind yourself that we only see a small % of peoples real lives on social media and we CAN choose how much we buy in to it.


Use it for inspiration

Instead of comparing, use people that you admire as inspiration. Soak up their knowledge, emulate their qualities, create a life for yourself using them as role models. Embody their values. Hard work, dedication, consistency, courage, confidence. What ever they are, bring them in to your life and use it to fuel the fire.

UNFOLLOW people that bring you down. If you spend a lot of your time on social media then PLEASE follow people that inspire you and leave you feeling like a box of fluffies. Follow people that inspire you, that make you laugh. UNFOLLOW anyone who leaves you feeling like shit. Do it NOW.

Look at your relationships. I don’t know about you but friends are my world. I am so lucky to have friends that leave me feeling energised, loved, heard and like I could conquer the world. The experts say that we become most like the 5 people we spend the most of our time with. So make sure your inner circle are the purest, most awesome humans you can find!


Own it

I can guarantee that if I got all of you in a room for a party, the voices in our head would go something like this

‘It’s not fair, all these people are dressed so well, if I had the money I would look that good too’ ‘ She turns up wearing a pair of jeans and a tee and looks better than me, how does she do that?’

‘I wish that I had her confidence, she works the room and talks to everyone’ ‘I wish I could be as cool as him, he doesn’t talk much but everyone seems to really like him’

‘I wish I could pull off short hair, I would look awful if my hair was like that’ ‘I wish I could pull off long hair, I’ve always wanted flowing hair like hers’.

The point I’m trying to make is that we all look at other people and wish that we had what they had. The irony is that they are most likely looking at you wishing they could have a bar of what you have!

Own what YOU have.

Own who YOU are.

Own YOUR life.

Show up every day and make small positive changes that lead you to a more fulfilling life. I’m talking about giving the husband a kiss on his way to work, putting a call in to your best mate that you haven’t seen in months, writing a note to your kids and putting it in their lunch box, taking your parents out for lunch.


Set your expectations

Ohhh this is a hard one for me guys. I am my own worst critic and have exceptionally high expectations for myself and it’s something I work on daily.

When I’m not feeling great, I haven’t slept, taken care of my nutrition, exercised and generally feel low I can slip in to the comparison game really well.

Thanks to my on going commitment to personal development I don’t stay there for long and I see it as a sign that I need to take more care of myself or simply rest.

At the moment, I am putting my energy in to writing, family and my business. That means that I can’t dedicate as much time to exercise as I once had. It also means I can’t expect to have flat abs, and run a marathon like I once might have. Therefore when I see friends and clients achieving their fitness goals that I can’t compare myself to their current situation.

You will kill your joy if you try to live up to unrealistic standards and expectations that you set for yourself.


Take away

So what can you learn from reading this?

When your back is up against the wall- JUST BE YOU

Comparison is like guilt - a complete waste of time!

Use people as inspiration to help you reach your goals.

When you find yourself comparing yourself against someone else remember someone will be looking at your life and wishing they could be more like you. Be grateful for who you have and what you have got.

Listen to the words of Coco Chanel ‘ Beauty begins when you decide to be yourself’

Live out of purpose and play your own game. Set your own goals and work daily to achieve them.