Comparison... that nasty little thing that creeps in and steals your joy

"Be your own kind of beautiful" - these words sit on my gym's bathroom wall.

 

I wonder if other people read those words and actually think about them... who knows.

For myself - I've been in that bathroom ...say, over a hundred times. But I have never seen them before. Maybe they were sent today... who knows. At any rate - for me, they came at a really opportune time. So maybe the Universe does provide when you need it (another reminder for another time Anna!).  

As I said on Instagram (@roarfiercecoach) I've been struggling  with COMPARISON recently. My mindset, usually positive about most things, has been decidedly un-positive.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt

The kinds of things that have been going through my mind include:

  • dwelling on other people's Instagram likes & follower numbers; 
  • wondering if other people's businesses are doing better than mine;**
  • looking in the mirror at imaginary fat (as least I know it's imaginary so that's a step in the right direction);
  • stressing myself out about looking stupid at the powerlifting comp I am entering in November this year (what it I don't get my max lifts.... dying of embarrassment at the thought...);
  • procrastinating about everything - marketing, website updates, buying product for Rich Nutrients, doing things with my USANA business; and
  • being scared of everything (like sitting a cafe alone... what if they think I'm weird...). 

So I began to wonder what the hell it was about comparison and me that was getting under my skin. I wanted to examine my relationship with comparison. And I wanted to set some guidelines for myself around this for the future. I'm also calling on you to hold me accountable. If you see me 'doing the comparison thing', call me out. And point me back in the direction of this post!

Why is comparison even a thing?

I decided to do some research about comparison. I mean, they always say knowledge is power. 

So - why does our brain do this thing called comparison?

Well, we aren't born with this need to compare that is for sure. Everything I have read on this tells me that when I was born, I didn't need to compare myself to others. All I was worried about was being alive. As a baby, our two natural 'instincts' are fear of falling and loud noises. That is it. Obviously, we still need to be fed and watered and changed and loved (but again, that's another post).

Therefore, the conclusion most research I have read is that comparison is born from the world around us and our interactions with it.

As we grow, we learn that it's often when we do better than others that we get rewarded - by attention, compliments ("well done") and we realise that people are liked when they do 'good things'. This can be things like doing well at school, even being kind to others - we get told that this is good stuff to do. What happens is that our reward centre in our brain goes 'ping'! 

When we do something and get rewarded it's a little bit like a drug - we want to get more of the same compliments and rewards so we strive to do these 'good things' again. Our brains are literally addicted to the chemical that is released when we get a reward (dopamine). 

Over time, we may not get the same rewards - so we keep striving and try to out-do ourselves and everyone around us to try to get what we are craving - that 'ping' in our brain and the feeling of satisfaction that follows.  

We also start looking at what other people are doing to get rewarded and try to copy it. This makes sense from a historical perspective - humans evolved by copying other humans and this is how a variety of practices became normal (eg, eating with a fork). One human started it, others copied and this spread. 

However, in my opinion, this doesn't always make sense - because if you are copying how is it that you are unique, and therefore special, and therefore deserve a reward? Interesting thought isn't it.

Having established why we are addicted to reward I thought I should turn to how people go about getting that feeling. 

What does one have to even do these days to get noticed?

Now, presuming that we want to get noticed is the starting point here. And I guess for me, admitting that I want to get noticed (in the business sense at least) is a big deal. No one wants to be that person who is 'me me me me' all the time. But I do want to have people interested in what I am doing because I feel I have something to offer in the areas Roar Fierce stands for - #wellness, #energy and #authenticity. Also, at the end of the day, we all want to earn a living. And for me, this is about being independant. 

The kinds of things I am offering are not always mainstream and again, that is interesting to me. Because I actually am one of the people doing something different. And that isn't even enough to get me noticed.

And so I go into looking at other people doing things and the cycle I outlined about starts again! 

So, what to do?!

The first step is realising you have a problem - here's how if you don't think you can do it alone

My moment of clarity came when I actually felt depressed. For those who know me, I've had depression before and for me, the feeling of wanting to stay in bed and never get up is the worst feeling. In fact, I would go as far as to say it's not even a feeling. It's a complete shut down.

I realised that this inertia - not doing anything at all, to-do list growing exponentially - was actually depression and shutdown was imminent. Having been there before certainly helped me have the 'realisation'. If you think you might have tendency to go to this place - you need to talk to those around you and make sure they are 'on notice' about what is going on. They can then pick you up if you fail to realise what is going on yourself. 

The second step is asking for further help - from experts

Communicating about how I was feeling was also key - these are what a friend of mine would call "difficult conversations" but you HAVE to just have them or you will end up in bed, duvet over head. That is not a space I want to be in. I want to be living my authentic life - with #wellness #energy and #authenticity. 

    As a result of these conversations, I have elicited the help of some gurus in this area to shed some light on what I am doing. One conversation I had was really interesting about the quality of images for social media (thanks Kate!). I also realised, that the to-do list was growing rapidly because I was trying to do things I am not qualified for (enter a new marketing company to assist). Watch this space.

    I have also begun having discussions with those 'in the know' about web traffic and how to read google analytics and other things that will assist with online business. Taking advice is kinda hard - I've always been that high achiever who got rewarded. And the loss of the 'reward' feeling has been hard to take.

    I have also investigated advertising and some different options. 

    All of this takes time - and whilst I could be using this time stalking other people on social media - I realised that I AM MORE IMPORTANT. The things that I stand for make a difference to people.

    So where am I at right now as a result of my reflections on comparison?

    I really looked at what I stand for - those concepts of wellness, energy and authenticity. And I questioned them and whether I was really committed to these or were these fake and something I created to try and get recognition. 

    But I realised:

    • If you are well - you can do more.
    • If you have energy - you can share more.
    • If you are authentic you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel safe in the knowledge you know who you are without fear or unease. 

    And I realised that what I am about is totally me.

    You have to believe that somewhere, you have a gift that needs to be shared with the world. Even if sometimes, it's hard to remember this fact. I am firmly of the opinion that we wouldn't be here if there wasn't something we were meant to be here for. We might not even know what it is yet, or we are still looking. But that tiny bit of hope is enough.

    My message to you in simply this:

    Stay true to yourself. Always be able to look at yourself and know you have been honest and true.

    All this from comparison!! So, whilst comparison is the thief of joy, it managed to be a good thing for me (how ironic). Forcing me to think about what I was doing to myself and create a better vision for myself. It also forced me to focus on what really matters. 

    I'll be in my lane. Have fun in yours. 

    Over to you xx

     

     How we should view ourselves daily!

    How we should view ourselves daily!

     

    ** on a side note I realise that yes, their businesses are probably doing better Anna, as they are just getting on with it and actually working, not mooning about on Instagram & Facebook & Snapchat and Twitter... and every other social media you can think of **