Is it just me, or have you lost count of how many times you’ve been SO excited by another human being, you’ve dropped everything to learn from them?
You’ve hit ‘subscribe’ on their podcast, signed up to their newsletter and fervently read every blog article they’ve ever written as if your life depends on it
One minute you’re giddy with inspiration and practically frothing at the mouth for more of their knowledgeable goodness….only to suddenly wind up feeling like a big, fat failure.
Not only have you somehow convinced yourself this inspirational human is ‘light years’ ahead of where you want to be, but maybe you’re even (dare I say it) jealous?
So, how on earth did we get here?
It’s called: ‘comparisonitis’.
And yes, it’s contagious. Unfortunately, there’s no quick trip to the walk-in clinic to clear this thing up – it’s a mindset that infiltrates your very soul and spreads faster than an STD on spring break.
And I have a confession to make… I caught it too!
Wiktionary defines comparisonitis;
- The compulsion to compare one’s accomplishments to another’s to determine relative importance, etc.
But let’s be real for a sec. Comparisonitis isn’t just for suckers sittin’ on Instagram fighting off the ‘jealousy fairies’ that they’re not on a yacht in St.Tropez, surrounded by Victoria’s Secret supermodels.
Comparisonitis can exist in really positive scenarios too.
Sometimes ‘self-help’ can turn into ‘self-harm’. And before you go tossing out all your self-help books, I have some solutions – but more on that in a moment.
You see, I’m someone who’s pretty darn committed to personal development. But in my pursuit of knowledge, success and
world domination self-improvement, the consumption of positive material designed to help improve my life & business, ends up making me feel like sh*t.
I’m learning from the best there is but wind up wondering how on earth I’m ever going to get to the next stage. Or better yet, wondering how on earth they got to where they are. Self-doubt starts to creep in.
“Thanks a lot, Brain! These negative thoughts are totally ruining my manifestation vibes!!!”
Wanna know what I end up doing? I consume even MORE positive material to nip those self-destructive demons in the bud. Does this cycle sound familiar? And ever noticed how you can ‘positive’ yourself to death?
Just when you think you’re doing all the right things, you learn 10 more new things you need to be doing to make your life even better.
Everywhere we look, we’re encouraged to ‘level up’, but this subtle messaging can easily trick us into thinking, “I’m not good enough”.
It’s not our fault that those pesky marketing messages convince us that we’re not doing enough. In fact, Dr Rick Hanson says our brains are hard-wired for negative thinking and dissatisfaction.
Take me for example. I’m someone who salivates at the thought of doing ‘all the things’ to level up, but then feel inadequate and overwhelmed. I know I should be #grateful, but I just can’t help negatively comparing myself and my journey to those inspiring me.
Surely it’s only natural that when you try emulating a mentor, or someone who’s in the exact position you want to be in, you can feel discouraged at the same time?
Yep, and it’s because…
You want it all and you want it all NOW!
Trust me, I get it.
So how do we delicately balance striving for our goals and hacking the paths of those that inspire us without letting comparisonitis get in the way?
- Stop comparing your start to their middle
Ever tried to start a business and a few months in, wonder why you’re not Marie Forleo yet? Or why you’re not hitting that ‘6 figure salary?’ Patience is a virtue, my friends, and you have full permission to be a beginner.
And can we pleeeeease stop with the ‘6 figure salary thing’ already? I think I may scream.
- Take A Social Media Detox
If you’re already showing symptoms of comparisonitis, you can bet your ass social media stalking will turn it into the full-blown compari-flu!
Hello, bed rest, ice cream and F.R.I.E.N.D.S re-runs.
- Find the joy in what you’re doing now.
Convincing yourself that, “If I just get XYZ, then I’ll be happy” is a trap. And an illusion. Focus on the customers you have now. Or the clients and opportunities you have now. Let happiness be the rocket fuel you use to achieve your goals, not what you’re hoping to get as a result.
- Lose the guilt over choosing fun instead of productivity
Instead of only striving for results, give yourself permission to do something for fun. Remember “fun”?? If you only do things for a specific outcome, how will you feel if you don’t get that desired result?
We are sold this idea that all the sacrifice and hard work will be worth it…but are you unnecessarily suffering in the process?
- Address any deep-seated insecurities you may have.
Yes, it feels gross to admit you’re insecure (we all are) but have you ever really dug deep enough to find out why?
While the quest for self-improvement is always very admirable, be certain you aren’t using it to mask feelings of inadequacy or Imposter Syndrome. Figure out what’s really driving this desire to ‘be better’.
- Recognise the signs of ‘content burn out’.
In an attempt to saturate yourself with knowledge, it’s easy to go past the sweet spot and into the danger zone. When you over-consume on helpful content, there are so many competing perspectives and advice to take (that can all seem like the ‘right’ one). This can leave you crippled with indecision and unable to move forward. It’s ok to press pause on that podcast, book or workshop.
- Everyone’s version of fulfilment looks different.
Instead of getting distracted by what everyone else is doing (#shinyobjectsyndrome) spend some time figuring out what your version of fulfilment looks like. Maybe it looks different now than it did 10 years ago. That’s ok too. Own it and remove any blocks getting in the way of it.
Despite our brains being hard-wired to betray us every now and then, remember, you have full control over how you choose to see the world and the people in it. Especially those ‘superhumans’ you’ve put on a pedestal. You can choose to see them as inspiring and helpful or choose to see them as a reminder that you’re a failure. (Which you’re not, by the way – you’re amazing.)
The choice is yours.
Actress. Producer. Storyteller. Gym Junkie. Film lover. Adventurer. Book Worm. Romantic. Creative. Sweet potato enthusiast. Gen’s a self-confessed (wannabe) high achiever with too many tabs open. When she’s not getting her mug on camera, she works as a freelance writer under the alias “Gen-erally Speaking”.