The compulsion to compare one’s accomplishments to another’s to determine relative importance.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was about 4 years ago at an event and I felt this weight crushing me and following me around. It was almost suffocating.⠀⠀⠀
And it just would not. Let. Up⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The persistent feeling of being found out, afraid I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, clever enough. I was around all these incredible influencers and industry leaders and thinking ‘what on earth could I have to offer??!’.
‘All the books have been written on the subjects I want to write about. There are other experts who help people on the things I do… there aren’t enough clients out there to work with me. And anyway… why would they work with me when they could work with her/him.. ?!’⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I knew my thinking was wrong but I just couldn’t seem to shake it. So, I smiled and chatted to people, trying to manage the conversations and hope that my fear wasn’t noticeable. I felt like I was in the wrong room at first and just didn’t belong, yet knew I needed to stay and it took all my strength to not walk out the door. It was like having a new pair of school shoes on at the first day of school and seeing around me what I knew I had to grow into.
I don’t know if you’ve experienced this but a lack of self-belief is debilitating and exhausting. It’s stressful and frustrating as it’s relentless with a grip so tight you can’t fight it.
What I didn’t know then that I know now is that every person in that room felt the same way I did! Isn’t it amazing the things that go through our minds and we tell ourselves?
In fact, a study undertaken by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes found that women frequently say that they don’t feel they deserve their job and are “imposters” who could be found out at any moment. They found that women worry more about being disliked, appearing unattractive, outshining others, or grabbing too much attention.
Men are not exempt from doubting themselves either of course—they just don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do. A Hewlett Packard internal report found that men apply for a job or promotion when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. What doomed them was not their actual ability, but rather the decision not to try. The decision to not try can often stem from us assuming that we aren’t going to be as good or compare as well as others in the applicant pool.
Zenger Folkman’s research shows that as women’s experience increases over time, so does their confidence. The graph above shows that women’s confidence increases more with age than men’s. It makes me wonder how many opportunities are lost in the early years because of comparisonitis, fear and lack of confidence.
As Mark Twain said ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So I realised I had to put together a plan to manage it with a bunch of strategies, here are 5 that you might also find helpful if you’re feeling like this too and preparing yourself for the year ahead: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1. Ask for help. Speak to a support person, friend, family or professional who can help you to put strategies in place if you don’t know what to do. There’s absolutely no shame in asking. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
2. Be your own best friend. Catch your negative self-talk and reframe to speaking to yourself nicely. Instead of saying ‘you idiot’.. say ‘oops, that was funny’, or ‘geez, I crack myself up.’⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3. Remember your uniqueness. There is only one of you. Sure, others might deliver similar work to you but they can’t replicate your essence. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
4. Create before you consume. I got this one from author Marie Forleo. Celebrate and amplify your uniqueness by creating. Whether it’s videos, a book, a blog… whatever. Just get creating as people will come to you because you can connect with them at a deeper level. Become as fully self-expressed as possible by showing us what you care about.
5. Disconnect to reconnect. Get off social media for a while, a week even. Get back to you and stop looking at what everyone else is doing.
What strategies have worked for you that you can implement this year?