It just seems like we’ve been surrounded by folks in various parts of our network talking about comparing themselves to others a lot lately. I think COVID really expedited a lot of things in life for some and did the total opposite for others, which is ultimately triggering a lot of this.
People are either getting engaged or breaking up, buying homes, or struggling within their career and looking for new jobs…there’s no in between
And Brynne and I personally have found ourselves in that comparison trap a lot more than we’d like to be over these past few months.
So we decided to hop on the podcast, talk about our experiences with comparison lately, the tools we use to shut it down when it’s negative and discuss situations in which comparison can be a good thing.
Read along for our convo!
Brynne’s Comparison Triggers
[Brynne] To give you a little background, I completed my doctorate degree last fall and have since started my own coaching practice and this podcast, which are all things I am really proud of — but I’ve also really been focused on finding a full-time job — which sometimes feels like a full-time job in itself!
And to be completely transparent, I haven’t been successful in finding that job yet and it’s really started to wear me down — and I feel like this frustration has built up over time and has really led me to compare myself to others in ways that I normally don’t
[Megan] When do you think it was triggered?
[Brynne] You know, I think ever since I started grad school and started paying more money for schooling while all my friends were making money, I’ve had this insecurity that I am somehow “behind” in life…which isn’t true — we all have our own timelines, but this is one of those thoughts that creeps into my mind every so often, especially lately
And I am so lucky because I have surrounded myself with truly amazing people in my life, who are all so loving and ambitious and successful…and as a result, they’re all doing really well in life, where they are getting married to the loves of their life or buying houses, or just killing it in their careers — or maybe even all three of those things!
And don’t get me wrong, I love seeing it all and I couldn’t be happier for them — but then comes that nagging thought in my own head again, where I’m like…I should be there too, why am I not there?
And literally, it feels like every time I go on social media of some sort — whether that’s Instagram or LinkedIn, someone else is engaged, or got the keys to their new house, or has been promoted, and sometimes it gets overwhelming.
[Megan] Do you have any tools you utilize when you find yourself comparing in a negative way?
[Brynne] Well for one, social media breaks are absolutely crucial for me — I think social media is the number one place I, and many others, find ourselves comparing our life to someone else’s..so whenever I get into one of these moods, the first thing I do is stay off social. That always helps keep my mind clear.
Another strategy I love to turn to when I feel the comparison kicking in is gratitude. I try and make gratitude a daily practice anyways, but I especially turn to it when I find myself looking at what others have that I don’t — because I already have so much good in my life that I sometimes overlook, and I just need to remember to recognize that too. And also just giving myself that gentle reminder that for the most part, what we see in others’ lives are the good parts and the highlight reels — we never get the full picture and there’s probably a lot that I have that others probably wish they had too.
[Megan] Those are both great tools – it’s so obvious to me on days I wake up and go through my morning routine that includes gratitude journaling versus just scrolling through Instagram. I feel like so many can relate to what you’ve been going through.
Megan’s Journey with Comparison
[Megan] Well, a little about my journey with comparison…
At the start of 2021, I actually made a goal for myself that I no longer wanted to compare myself to others, unless it was to learn and grow in a positive way. Which we can touch on a bit later. So I started diving into tools to help myself when I get into those negative comparison mindsets.
And what I found is two questions to ask myself in those instances, the first: does whatever he/she is doing a play to my strengths?
I’m constantly striving to live life with ease, and I find doing things that play to my strengths helps accomplish this. And the second is, would I want to do what he/she has to do to have whatever I’m comparing myself to?
I know that the second one is a bit wordy, but you get what I’m saying.
A personal example that I think a lot of girls can relate to is that, I used to find myself comparing myself to that ‘life of the party girl’ – everyone knows those girls or has friends like them – super fun, loud, and just the life of the party. Always great energy to have in a group.
And there were times even in the past year of my life that I’d compare myself to them, and wish I could be that way. And I’d get bummed out, and be down on myself a bit in those situations because I wasn’t. Or think I wasn’t liked or good enough because I wasn’t that way.
So when reflecting on that example – being the center of attention in large groups is definitely not my strength, I can get super uncomfortable and turn bright red.
It’s funny cause I love bringing large groups of people together, but I absolutely despise it when someone makes me give a speech.
And also, I realized what I love about being with others is building meaningful relationships. I like being open and building bonds with people. I’ve found that I’m best able to do that with 1:1 time in those group environments.
So now as I’ve found myself in similar situations this year, the life of the party girls doesn’t upset me at all, because I know ultimately that’s not who I want to be, it doesn’t play to my strengths or achieve my goals for those situations.
[Brynne] Wow, love that. I’m glad you shared it. I think a lot of girls can relate to that specific example — I know I can, or at least adjust it to a similar situation to a different kind of “it” girl.
Is that the only tool you’ve been using?
[Megan] Yeah pretty much, and it’s worked really well for me. I hope to anyone listening it works well for you too.
I really only started implementing it maybe 5 months ago, and I’ve come such a long way in even that amount of time.
This past weekend, there were SO many engagements, including some ex-boyfriends and some close friends, baby announcements, people having children, and so forth. It was wild how much there was. And I was SO full of happiness.
If I had seen all this maybe two years ago, I probably would have been a wreck.
I actually called my mom towards the end of the weekend, and kind of joked if something was wrong with me for not freaking out or being upset by it at all.
I mean I’m 29, very single.
But that’s not what I want right now, and that’s okay.
[Brynne] I feel like our entire social life for the next three years is going to be weddings. And it’s gonna be so much fun! I love weddings, I love love.
When Comparison can be a Good Thing
Here’s an example of when it can be positive. Let’s say you find a certain friend of yours or just a random person you follow online to be incredibly confident, and ultimately, you’d love to have that level of confidence. Learn from that person. See what they do in their everyday life that helps boost their confidence, and try it out for yourself. That type of comparison is great if you’re able to look at it from learning, motivating headspace versus as a way of self-criticism.