In my first book, Mental Toughness Training for Golf:, I wrote that one way to lose confidence is to compare yourself to others. I felt that we should fight our urges and focus only on getting better and comparing ourselves to our own level of improvement. Even the majority of articles are about how to stop comparing yourself.
I was wrong.
Our natural tendency is to already compare ourselves, in fact, since the age of about 6, we started doing it all the time. We are in a constant state of evaluating to those around us in all areas of life. This type of beauty contest comparison is what causes internal strife because we often end up in a state of “I’m not good enough.” Not matter how good we get, there is always someone better. Even if we are the best, it’s not for very long.
So, we need to fight the urge NOT to compare ourselves and simply find healthier ways to do it. Here are the 3 unhealthy ways that we compare ourselves.
1. We focus on the differences
“We judge others using their highlight reel, while we judge ourselves by what happens backstage.”
We regularly find differences between others, even our competitors, about why they are better than us. Or, we find differences about why we are superior. Both of these are unhealthy because they put us in a position of inferiority or superiority. We are relying on our comparison to feel confident about ourselves. On the other hand, noticing the similarities between others puts us in a state of equality and forces us to pay attention to what we can control.
2. We become envious
“We need to focus on our ‘why’ and others ‘how’.”
We find someone who is better than us or has something we desire and we get envious. We think how awesome it would be for us to have that talent, status, or car. We may even ponder “why” they deserve it. This type of comparison puts us in a state of negativity and reinforces the belief that we are not good enough. Instead, replace the envy, and use that individual as a model. Focus on “how and “what” they did to achieve that goal and how we can do the same.
3. We notice only people better than us
“Develop an attitude of gratitude.”
In the interviews for my 2nd book, The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness, I came across people who had lost a child. It is the most difficult thing any parent can experience. I interviewed different parents who lost a child at birth, 2 months, 2 years old, and 20 years old. Each of these circumstances were different and painful, but it put into perspective that no matter how bad we have it, someone has it worse. When we focus on the things we are grateful for, it develops an attitude of gratitude. Once we begin to count our blessings, it also gets tough to stop.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness. His 2nd book titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness was JUST released. Follow on twitter @drrobbell or contact here firstname.lastname@example.org