3 Ways To Stop Unhealthy Comparisons
Most of what I read is about how to stop comparing yourself to others.
The “comparison is the thief of joy” stuff. It makes perfect sense. Even in my first book, Mental Toughness Training for Golf:, I extensively wrote that one common way to lose confidence is to compare yourself to others.
I was wrong.
It’s our natural tendency to compare ourselves, in fact, since the age of about six years old, 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.” The media and advertising world pray on all of us by comparison. It’s unavoidable.
No matter how good we get, there is always someone better. Even if we are the best, it’s not for very long. It’s the mountaintop fallacy.
I previously subscribed to the belief that we should ONLY focus on getting better and comparing ourselves to our own level of improvement. I still believe this, but, there are healthy comparisons that we are we missing! I mean if we are the average wealth of our five closest friends, isn’t that dependent upon comparison?
We need to recognize and stop unhealthy comparisons and simply find more productive ways to do it.
Unhealthy Comparison #1- We focus on the differences
“We judge others using their highlight reel, while we judge ourselves by what happens backstage.”
We regularly find the differences between others, our competitors, about why they are better than us. Or, we find differences about why we are superior.
Both of these are why we need to stop unhealthy comparisons because they put us in a position of inferiority or superiority. We are relying on our comparison to feel confident about ourselves.
The healthy alternative is noticing and focusing on the similarities between others puts us in a state of equality and forces us to pay attention to what we can control. Besides this comparison becomes an excellent way to build our confidence!
Unhealthy Comparison #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.
Instead, the healthy way is to replace the envy, and use that individual again as a model.
Focus on “how and “what” they did to achieve that goal and how we can do the same.
Unhealthy Comparison #3- We notice only people better than us
The way that we improve is to use these models of people who are better than us, find out their how, and use it ourselves. But, we need to focus on people worse off as well.
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 or person can probably 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. My interviews with these strong people revealed that the manner in which a child was lost had a major impact on the grieving process.
The pandemic put a lot into perspective for us. If we adjust our lens the correct way, then we can see the benefits and the good. When we focus on the things we are grateful for, it develops an action of gratitude.
Once we begin to count our blessings, it gets tough to stop.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens.
Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly.