The Comparison Conundrum
Have you ever felt lost, flat or completely deflated in your career or business? Or sometimes, even in your life?
We've all been there… sitting next to friends at brunch, when one turns to the group and says "Did you hear You-Know-Who got promoted… again! I should really be at that level by my age!" "Wow you're publishing your third book! in two years? amazing!' "You've got how many Instagram followers? really?" If so, chances are, you have fallen victim to what I call, the Comparison Conundrum.
You know the one. Where we think, wonder and often envy how someone else seems to have their life totally sorted!
We watch from the outside (on our devices or from the other side of the 'mask') wondering how they can possibly have a thriving career/business, travel the world, have an all-adoring partner, fabulous sex life, talented kids, is a picture of perfect health ALL still whilst maintaining a rocking social life and saving the elephants in Africa and refugees in Sudan!
The Comparison Conundrum is dangerous! It can make any of us feel as though we don't 'do' enough, 'have' enough or are simply 'not good' enough. Which is completely untrue, of course.
Here's the bigger issue, the more we waste our valuable time looking, envying and wishing we had what everyone else has (or at least allegedly has) … the less time we spend establishing what we want and then doing the hard yards to get it.
So here's the deal, if you ever start to head down the Comparison Conundrum, take five mins for yourself (yes that means you have to quit Facebook stalking for that moment), grab a cuppa and jot down these three simple things:
What do you want? Personally and Professionally?
Why do you want it? If you got it, what would it give you?
What do you need to DO to make it happen?
Before you start, take a moment to jot down, what you already have (and I don't mean material stuff). I mean the resources (internally and externally) do you have at your disposal to help you get what you want?
Make a list of your own amazing qualities, attitudes, past experiences, skills and knowledge that you possess.
Brainstorm the various people who you can call on for help - your support crew.
Who else might be available to give you advice or feedback?
The Comparison Conundrum is easy to fall victim to, so if and when you do, quit wasting your time comparing yourself to others and shift your focus to you.
What you have (and take a moment to be thankful for that);
What you want and why, and importantly;
What you need to do to make it happen!
Interview with Blythe Rowe
Blythe Rowe has spent the past 13 years in Senior HR roles for some of Australia's largest businesses including McDonald's Australia and the retail giant, Bunnings. Blythe's obsession for people and performance led her to become the founder and director of the training organisation, Human Incite. Throughout May and June, Blyther will be speaking at business masterclasses -The Next Big Thing.'
Question: How would you describe The Comparison Conundrum?
Blythe Rowe: The Comparison Conundrum is where you find yourself comparing yourself to others, often thinking, wondering and often envying someone else for what 'seem" to have or have achieved, and in the meantime, leaves us feeling as though we don't 'do" enough, 'have" enough, or are simply 'not good enough"! This is of course bollocks but it can be debilitating.
Question: Why has this become more common?
Blythe Rowe: We live in such a highly connected, competitive era. People's worth in society seems to be judged based on what they -have', have achieved, what they are capable of or even worse, what they physically 'look like' vs what value they contribute.
Whether it's how smart or sporty your kids are, or how successful you partner is or how quickly you can fit into your size 10 jeans after having a baby - everyone seems so intent on showing the world what they -have' or what they are doing, in an attempt to prove their worth and validate their own value. In a bid to get social acceptance to an extent.
Previously, we might have updated our family and friends on what we'd been up to in the annual Christmas letter (or maybe not as we don't want to look like we are showing off!) However, now with social media it has given us permission to share our triumphs and adventures with the world (and with complete strangers too).
Question: What are the signs that we could have The Comparison Conundrum?
Blythe Rowe: Two key signs that you are falling victim to the comparison conundrum can be detected in our language and the emotion we are experiencing.
1. Language: the moment you catch yourself saying I really 'should" be doing x or 'I should" have achieved y, or 'I should have done z". Warning bells should ring!
Be wary of the 'Should's".
Other language to be mindful of is that little voice in our head (you know the one), that says to you things like: 'Why do they seem to have everything so perfect?" 'I wish my husband loved me the way he loves her", 'Obviously I am not good enough", 'There is no way she looks like that after having twins, she must have adopted!" Comparison Conundrum!
2. When you can't stop yourself scrolling through social media and instead of feeling happy for others for their achievements or adventures, you are feeling jealous, angry, upset or resentful and feeling more and more helpless for yourself - these are pretty good warnings that you are falling victim to the Comparison Conundrum.
Question: How does social media contribute to The Comparison Conundrum?
Blythe Rowe: Social Media has contributed BIG TIME. It has intensified the whole conundrum as we have more access than ever to compare ourselves to not only our friends and family but complete strangers and celebrities as well, 24/7. I mean, kids these days base their worth on how many Instagram followers they have, or how many likes they attract!
Social Media is a HUGE factor. The danger of course, is we are comparing ourselves to 'facade" lives that the other person chooses to share. So, it is kind of like a jury making a verdict on a case, when they are only presented with half the story (or sometimes a fraction) of the real story. It's an illusion. People are making judgements about themselves (I am not worthy) based on this illusion.
Question: What can we begin to doing today, to stop comparing ourselves?
Blythe Rowe: The comparison conundrum is easy to fail victim to, so the first step is recognising when you are falling victim to the Comparison Conundrum (via your language or emotions), then consciously choose to quit wasting your valuable time comparing yourself to others by shifting your focus!
Focus on all the things you have in your life to be thankful for (internally and externally). This simple shift in focus to gratitude makes it impossible for the brain to experience all those other un-resourceful emotions.
Next take a few minutes (yes so this means put down your social media scrolling) and ask yourself simple 3 questions:
1. WHAT do I really want? Not everyone else, YOU, what do YOU want?
2. WHY do I want it? Not because you really should. If you got it, what would it give you?
3. HOW will I go about making it happen? What action do you need to take to get want you want?
This starts to make us feel much more empowered as we feel like we have taken so control back, then we can go back to Instagram stalking, without feeling worthless, hopeless or helpless.
Interview by Brooke Hunter