Comparison quietly chips away at us.
On the outside, it is quiet but on the inside, it is typically screaming, and comparison drives us bonkers.
We have all heard the old saying, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
It is true and has never been truer in this day and age as we are constantly glued to screens…ironically probably reading this on a small handheld screen.
How do we combat comparison?
We use self-talk, which is exactly what it sounds like, our internal monologue and how we speak to ourselves and think about ourselves, surroundings and actions.
Self-Talk is a skill that needs to be trained and practiced. It needs to be continually practiced because no matter who you are, there will come a time where you doubt your skills, yourself, where you are and what you are doing. Our self-talk skills take a long time. Just like any fitness goal – we don’t go from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye. More often than not, comparison goes hand in hand with negative self-talk.
How to shift our self-talk (This is a VERY brief and superficial look at it. There are books and entire college and graduate courses on this topic.):
- Acknowledge the negative self-talk.
- Notice the triggers of negative self-talk.
- Try to stop the negative thought cycle.
- Once this skill is practiced and we stop the negative, we shift it to a neutral thought.
- After we have this part of it down, we go from negative to neutral to positive.
Now, this doesn’t mean we always have a rainbow and butterflies outlook on everything all the time. That isn’t realistic! It just means that we are developing awareness and the practice to acknowledge and correct our internal monologues.
Back on track to how we find comparison in our day-to-day.
Social media is a highlight reel and even though we know this, we find ourselves tripping over our thoughts and wondering why we aren’t built like The Rock, or driving a fancy car at Miami Beach, or eating cheeseburgers with our abs. This comparison happens because it is ingrained in us from an early age and competition is in our nature as humans.
We are competitive beings and even when we are in the game of life, an infinite game, where competition and comparison are meaningless, we put comparisons onto everything.
We lose the long game and focus on the short term and finite outcomes all because…
They have abs.
They are doing different exercises.
They have a better car.
They can run faster.
They can do more push-ups. (Follow this guide to nail them, though! 😉)
They can eat whatever they want.
They are skinnier.
The list is endless, but we only compare ourselves to a highlight reel, and you only see one sliver of a day in their life.
Here are your reminders to help you see the comparison traps and hopefully reduce the frequency!
Comparison to our previous selves
This is a hard one because we all remember our glory days!! Being young, carefree, and hot at 25 without worrying about a single thing in the world. Then jobs, stress, kids, injuries, etc. add up, and suddenly we can’t perform the way we did when we were young. Our bodies will look different as we age too, it is natural and part of life. If you have children, you know first-hand that childbirth is probably the most traumatic thing the human body goes through, and as a result, it is perfectly okay to come out on the other end with some difference in your body. With all of this change, there may also need to be changes in your training.
Shifting our training focus to where we currently are and what we are currently capable of is where we make ‘gainz’. Nobody likes the guy at the gym annoyingly reliving his glory days of being 19 years old.
Training changes as we age. Our bodies and lives require this change. At 25 we can spend 3 hours in the gym, do whatever we want and then go party on a Saturday…life, jobs, joints, and responsibilities are way different at 35, 45, 55 and so on, so change your training accordingly. Accept the changes, then train for them and with them.
Comparison to others, even when they appear to be in similar/same shoes.
Nobody responds the same to every exercise or workout routine. We are also all in very different stages. Some people are just starting while others are starting over. Then there are some that are on year 25 and others on year 3.
We are all in different stages of training and even when we are in similar stages, we can’t compare to what everybody else is doing. Not everybody who goes through the same injury will respond the same, not every pregnancy is the same, not every joint structure is the same.
Just because Johnny and Suzie are doing ‘A’ doesn’t mean that you should necessarily be doing ‘A’ as well.
- Everybody’s genetics are different.
Everybody has a different genetic make up. It is as simple as that. Some will be taller, broader, thinner, thicker…you name it and there will be differences.
- Social Media Exposure.
We know social media isn’t reality and it is a weird, curated bubble of nonsense.
Don’t get jealous over some influencer pretending to drive a nice car or annoying a restaurant to give them a free dinner. Instead, stop scrolling. Set the time limits on your apps and reduce the intake. We typically can only control our reactions to things but we can certainly control how much goes into our brains.
Comparison and self-talk are a constant practice, so practice and learn how to curate your exposures and manage your triggers to make your life better.