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Escaping the Comparison Trap

A new perspective on how to stop comparing yourself to others

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Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Some say that comparing ourselves to others is just part of being human, but with comparison often comes a laundry list of negative emotions, leaving many feeling poorly about themselves and their choices. What if I told you that there is a way to escape the comparison trap and have a new perspective on the topic?! If you are ready to break free, without having to remove all social media from your phone or never browsing a magazine ever again, then the below three steps will come in handy.

Determine Your Inner Priorities

We are all born with a set of skills, likes and desires that makes us who we are. Think of it as the things you cannot wait to get out of bed and go do. For example, an artist and their art, a singer performing at a concert, a chef preparing a special meal for a group of foodies. Whatever it is that lights your soul on fire can be considered an Inner Priority. Many individuals are not aware of what their true Inner Priorities are, especially when living most of their lives out of duty, following what others want for them, pursing careers they are not passionate about for the financial security or staying in relationships for the fear of being alone again. I spent over 3 decades of my life living outside of my priorities, doing what I believed I was supposed to and to this day, I still catch myself spend time fulfilling duties, rather than living by design.

What does this have to do with comparing ourselves to others, you may ask?! Anytime we spend energy on lower priority actions, as Dr. John Demartini, a world-renowned Human Behavior Specialist and a teacher of mine, would say, we depreciate ourselves. We “shrink” to fit into someone’s values and priorities and we became less present, less authentic. For example, if you’re comparing yourself, say your painting skills, to an award winning painter when you don’t paint at all and you don’t even like arts and crafts, you would feel less than because you’re making an unfair comparison. But let’s just say you are an amazing mom, and you multitask in the household, and you’re able to take care of all the kids and get lunches done and all that good stuff. And then you compare yourself to somebody that is not a mom, and has never run a household and that person comes to your house to babysit your kids for the day, they probably will be very overwhelmed, doing things that you just take for granted, because you’re just so good at it. Therefore, the first step towards ending the comparison trap has to do with knowing what is in your zone of genius, what are the things and topics you love the most, that inspires you the most and then making every possible effort to design your life around it. There is no one else like you, and the more you honor who you really are, the easier it becomes to exit the comparison roller-coaster.

You Are Not Lacking Anything

The second step towards escaping the comparison trap is knowing you, me and the next person, none of us are lacking anything – and I mean anything! This is probably one of the most important things you will ever discover about yourself, so let’s just get it out of the way! I know this may seem too good to be true, but the truth is, none of us is lacking anything, no matter what’s going on in your life, no matter if you feel like a hot mess, or like super-woman. The fact that nothing is missing means that if you have the perception of lack, you just need to look elsewhere. Let me explain!

Say you believe that you’re lacking momentum when it comes to your career, then look at other areas in your life that inspire you (i.e. your Inner Priorities) and you will find tons of momentum. Or say that you wish to be more confident and feel you lack stage presence to speak in front of large audiences, but you have confidence to spare when leading your family. No matter your challenge, I say – where else in your life you display this exact quality, but possibly in a different form?! Lack of anything is only a perception, it only means you haven’t looked deep enough!

The Mirror Effect

Once you identify what makes you your most authentic, inspired self – your Inner Priorities – and you realized that nothing is ever lacking or missing in you, it is there but in a different form, and you become your own detective until you uncover what that is for you, you are ready for the final step in the process, what I like to call it the Mirror Effect. Let me paint you a picture, say you are watching TV or browsing Instagram and you see this beautiful woman and your attention goes straight to her waistline. You notice her toned abs and soft curves, what most people would describe as the perfect figure. Then you look at yourself in the mirror and you start judging your body. You notice your thighs grew a bit larger since last time and your belly is getting out of control. You look at the photo again and cannot help it but to feel bad about what your own figure.

Now, here is the thing. Yes, you do not have the same figure than the celebrity on the photo, nor do you spend the number of hours she does working out and controlling what she eats because you have a different set of Inner Priorities – say raising a family, having a career and volunteering to your favorite cause, which consumes most of your time. Second, yes, you do not have a size 2 waistline, and maybe you wish you did. But remember, nothing is ever missing in our lives, we have it in a different form. So the last step of this process is for you to hold this big imaginary mirror in your hands and then, ask yourself the most powerful question you can ever ask “Hmm, I wonder what part of myself, I can see in them?” and then, look for it. In this case, what does the small waistline represent for you in that individual? Is it the sense of confidence? So I ask you, what in yourself, either a physical quality or a personality trait, do you have of great value that brings you confidence? In other words, what is your equivalent to the toned abs and curvy figure? You can only admire (and observe) that which you already have! Say in your case, your confidence comes from your intellectual abilities. If you were invited to speak at a conference on a topic that you are incredibly comfortable with, you would be able to do so with great confidence. Now, imagine placing the same celebrity on the same stage and asking her to perform the same task. Do you think her small waistline would be enough for her to stay confident and not feel embarrassed when she is not able to complete the task? Probably not!

We all have all of the traits, but we each have them in different forms. Once you become clear about your Inner Priorities and design your life about the things you are most inspired to do, while realizing nothing is missing in you, you only need to look inside and find it in a different form, you will become free from the need to compare yourself to others and instead, use them as mirror to reflect your brilliance back to you.

Juliana Leamen is a Mind-Body Weight Release Expert and Podcaster, helping women over 40 stop self-sabotaging their weight release efforts, without relying on willpower. Sign up here to instantly receive her signature training and learn the main mindset shifts you can make today to re-ignite your weight release journey.

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