Is the Comparison Trap keeping you small?

Is the comparison trap keeping you small?

Why compare yourself to others? No one is the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”


Whether we are keen to admit it or not we have all at some point compared ourselves to other people and come up lacking. Something that has been exacerbated by Social Media where lavish lifestyles are on display for all to see every day – whether they are a truthful reflection of reality or not. 

We have looked at others and we have been left feeling ‘less than’. We perceive that they have more than we do – more money, more fun, more time; or they are better – better looking, better friends, better homes, whatever it might be. Our minds like to measure us against other people in social comparison, determining our personal worth based on how we stack up against them.  Comparison triggers inferiority, as we believe that we are not measuring up and feelings of inferiority can either drive us to improve and focus on personal development or can become an inferiority complex fuelling the self judgements that downward spiral into victimhood. 

There is a bit of chicken and egg here too – it is a cycle that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy – does it start with comparison, or self doubt? Either way the outcome is the same, it can drive you forwards or hold you back – your choice.

We have all experienced self doubt and when we do we fall foul to thoughts and feelings of inadequacy 

– why does everyone else seem to be doing so much better than me, why am I struggling so much with everything? 

You can see the powerlessness in the language – over generalisations of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.

“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”

Honore de Balzac

Self doubt triggers reactions that are inevitably self sabotaging in nature. 

  • Thoughts like “Nobody will buy for me” can result in us dropping our prices or giving away our products or services for free. 
  • Thoughts like “I am not good enough” prevent us from leaving jobs we hate to start businesses we might love. 
  • Thoughts like “I don’t know enough” cause us buy course after course waiting for the time we feel ready and competent enough, which never happens.
  • Thoughts like “this has been done before” or “there are too many people doing what I do already” stop us from sharing our natural gifts with the world, in our own beautifully, unique way.

Small challenges and obstacles then become proof of our failure to be good enough and this becomes evidence of our unworthiness, having a negative impact on mood, self esteem, anxiety, concentration, motivation, decisiveness and creates a dull pessimism about the future.

We listen to our inner critic, the voice in our head that is harsh and unkind, and we start to believe the narrative:

–       the I CAN’T that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, because when we decide we can’t we don’t try; 

–       the I DIDN’T that is self sabotage, because by procrastinating and not doing anything we can avoid potential failure;

–       the I SHOULDN’T that is impostor syndrome, because if I do then people might discover that I am a fraud. 

We create the exact outcome that we have been trying to avoid, all because when we feel insecure and low we look sideways, straight back into the comparison trap – yikes – and we stay small. 

So, how do we stop?

How do we get out?

How do we accept self doubt as part of our humanness and learn to manage it so that it does not hinder our progress and performance?

We start with connection to self and shift our focus to our own value system, our own actions, our own definition of success – we stay in our own lane, looking forwards, only creating what is important to us based on what we believe. We learn self compassion and self trust and enter a state that is more balanced where our critic is countered by our inner coach ensuring we can see both sides and creating a greater sense of awareness; from this state we are no longer more or less, we are equal to – equal to others, the situation, the challenge, other people – everything really.

We align our thoughts with our feelings and behaviours, living with greater intention, on purpose and with purpose. We can recognise that self doubt serves as a prompt to question and challenge ourselves, to reflect inwards and double check that we really do want what we are embarking upon, and that it is coming from a place of soul not ego. We recognise that we are not always right which gives us the humility to better relate to others.

We then connect to others as this also helps self doubt to fade. Friends can be a good mirror, showing us the attributes we have difficulty seeing for ourselves. Our friends can show us our courage, our determination, the impact we have already made. They can remind us how far we have come and prompt us to focus on the daily success behaviours instead of fixating on the ideal end result. The connection to supportive network of friends helps you keep things in perspective and can inspire you to keep going when you can’t motivate yourself.

It is connection that counters comparison.

When it boils down to it, it is a battle of wills – your critic versus your coach.

It is a choice.

When it boils down to it you have to decide whether to believe in yourself and trust yourself, even when you are not sure, or whether to allow yourself to become crippled by doubt, sucked into a downward spiral of self pity, obsessed with scarcity and lack. 

My advice – look up. 

See the path to self improvement. 

Compare yourself only to you, and what you have already achieved. 

Be grateful, be proud, appreciate your gifts and focus on the possibilities and opportunities that are all around you, go out there and find evidence for those instead.

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