Comparison, a double-edged sword, has the power to shape our future in two distinct ways. On the one hand, it’s capable of robbing us of confidence and self-worth, leaving us feeling deflated or diminished. On the other, it has the potential to act as a steadfast ally, championing and supporting us. The outcome is a direct result of the perspective we take and the thoughts we permit. In navigating this delicate balance, we may find ourselves falling into frustration, anxiety, or indecision. Alternatively, when we harness the force of comparison as a catalyst for personal growth, we enhance our confidence and elevate our success. Let’s see why this happens and how we can ensure we don’t succumb to the dark side of comparison.
Why do we tend to compare ourselves so often?
We are inherently driven by a profound and innate need for social connection, a force that propels us to seek validation and acceptance. However, when we evaluate our worth based on others’ achievements, possessions, or appearances it can prove highly detrimental to our personal power, confidence and self-esteem. Moreover, comparison fans the flames of ‘imposter’ syndrome which can send us on a downward spiral of negative thoughts. Furthermore, strengthening beliefs that we are not smart, wise or good enough.
A powerful illustration of this potential downward spiral is evident within the sphere of social media. Research consistently reveals that when individuals showcase their achievements and positive experiences, it often correlates with negative effects on mental health. At its extreme, comparison fuels failure, despondency and giving up.
We need to know what we want, where we are going and build self-belief
Central to achieving success and fulfilment, and avoiding the negative effects of comparison, is to cultivate unwavering self-belief and appreciation of ourselves. Furthermore, fostering unshakeable confidence to help us carve our own unique path in life. Building immunity to external forces and opinions. Of course, this takes consistent practice and focus, the key to locking in better habits and creating lasting change.
As Piglet wisely said:
“The things that make me different are the things that make me.”
The positive side of comparison
When we perceive someone’s performance as inspirational and approach it with curiosity and openness, a transformative dynamic unfolds. Here, we learn, see possibilities and grow. This champion mindset sharpens our focus, prompting intentional actions rather than reactive responses. Furthermore, when we use empowering questions, we shift further away from the the habit of comparison. Empowering questions align with a growth mindset for success, which fosters the likelihood of greater success.
Examples of such questions include:
- “Where could I sprinkle in a bit of this person’s talent and improve my performance?”
- “In what ways can I enhance an aspect of my performance based on what I observe here?”
- “What is this person doing that I am not doing, that if I did, would help improve my performance?”
- “How can I distill valuable lessons from this experience that fuel my growth and propel me towards becoming a better version of myself?”
These questions carry the high energy of curiosity and growth, rather than the low energy of comparison, driven from a yearning to be someone else or have something else.
How to Prevent The Dark Side of Comparison
- It’s vital to recognise and appreciate your individual differences and embrace your unique qualities, and strengths.
- Use questions that invoke curiosity and steer your focus towards outcomes and what you want.
- Never let your natural tendency to compare lead to feelings of remorse, inadequacy, or a scarcity mindset.
- Remember, you have the ability to shift your focus, and choose a meaning that serves you rather than stifles you.
In the enduring words of Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Viktor Frankl
Next time you start falling into the dark side of comparison, remember to focus on your unique path, your growth, and what truly matters to you. Shift your perspective and change your results.
About the Author
Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting business professionals and entrepreneurs fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
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