5 ways to NOT fall into the Comparison Trap.
No matter how many Instagram Posts we see reminding us not to compare ourselves to others, we all still do it. It's easier to look at what those around us have or are accomplishing and want to compete with them. We let our insecurities take over in he battle to be the best, have the most, etc. In doing so, we miss out on personal growth & development.
Fact: Unhealthy competition & comparison leads to more stress. Unhealthy stress becomes toxic - you become toxic and you will create a toxic environment wherever you go. So, here are 4 ways to avoid being a toxic human all together and put the focus on becoming a more mindful and confidently developed person....which will guarantee you the wins in life you want. Winners focus just as much as being in the right headspace as they do any other of the elements of whatever competition you are in (dance, pageants, cheer, a promotion for work, college acceptance, etc.)
When someone else wins, does that mean that we lost? Kinda, but only if you don't take the time to reflect and grow. You might feel a sense of defeat, jealousy, anger, sadness....all the feels at once. Its normal and its ok. But, what we do with those feelings and how we channel time matter most for OUR OWN WELL BEING (and frankly - your reputation). So, next time someone else wins, targeting you to feel like you lost, try focusing on why you feel the way you feel instead of focusing on the loss itself. Ask yourself:
-do I admire the person that "won"?
-do they often succeed?
-what are they doing differently than I am?
Often, the people that do succeed are people we admire and respect. Often, people who succeed continue to succeed. And often it's because they are doing something different. Spend time doing critical thinking and reflecting not on WHAT they are doing right and you are doing wrong, but instead on what YOU can be doing to become someone that people admire, that succeeds continually...and often the answer is in changing up whatever it is your are currently doing. For example, in pageants: maybe you always have the best dress and walk, you can talk in an interview, but you are missing the sparkle and excitement keeping you from the crown (Kristen Dalton Wolfe wrote a whole book about this called The Sparkle Effect), so ask yourself why am I not sparkling on stage, what factors am I missing, how does one sparkle, what does sparkling look like to a pageant judge, and grow from there.
2. DON'T PLAY THE BLAME GAME
When someone else succeeds and we don't, especially in any competition - we like to play the blame game. We desperately grasp for closure. And 99.9% of the time the blame is an incorrect assumption, something factless or based on something small and baseless that we heard or saw and then our minds turned it into something more to protect our hearts. In pageants, I see this a lot (ie: "the Judes wanted a blonde this year and you were brunette, you have to have a coach to win, I heard on the elevator that the girl that won knew so and so") These are almost always incorrect and are simply you or whoever projecting your/their own insecurities out into the world. This is extremely harmful. Not only does it lead to gossip and rumors, but it in no way helps you to grow. I know this first hand because I, myself, have participated in the blame game when I didn't win pageants. My last year competing in Miss Teen USA, I didn't win and I walked away blaming the pageant and that "they wanted someone who didn't know what they were doing." In my opinion (and of course in my mom and support team opinions), I was a pageant pro and the girl that won had a terrible wardrobe and had no idea what was happening. For that pageant, 7 different people (the judges) cast their own, individual votes and their own individual opinions landed the results to be that a different girl was more suited for the role of Miss NE Teen USA than I was.... FOR A REASON. What I see now, many years later is that she was fresh and excited to be there. And if that nasty blame game attitude was my attitude when I didn't win, imagine how disingenuous and rehearsed I must have looked competing. Of course I didn't win! But, because I played the blame game, I gave up. I didn't return to compete again and I gave up on a childhood dream. It's the biggest regret I have and I always wonder, "what if I had competed again?" More importantly, it set my personal growth backwards and I lost more than the crown.
3. WRITE DOWN YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Gosh, is it easy to forget about our own accomplishments. And, I don't just mean how many trophies and accolades you have swept up. The biggest accomplishments are just within the fact that you tried in the first place. Stepping outside your comfort zone, challenging yourself, setting a goal are all accomplishments. Even acknowledging that fact that you want to try again is an ACCOMPLISHMENT! By creating the list you are not only able to remind yourself that you have accomplished more than you realize, but will also awaken you to new opportunities for new goals.
I am not saying to NOT acknowledge there is a competition. You SHOULD acknowledge it, but in a healthy way. Healthy Competition is actually great for growth. It motivates and inspires us. I like to call this collaboration. So, go back to step 1 and reflect on what it is that strikes you about that person that did get the win or the person that in your eyes is killing it in life, pageants, or whatever field it is and reach out to them. Compliment them and to ask them for advice and resources that helped them develop the qualities that you admire most about them. I promise, they will be willing to share. This will not only provide you resources your didnt have before, but will help you to grow friendships and your network.
5. SET YOUR GOALS
Having spent time reflecting on why you compared yourself to others in the first place, reminding yourself of your own accomplishments, and motivating yourself by collaborating with those you respect, now it's time to set some real goals. Whatever those goals are, make the first one on your list: "becoming someone who collaborates and doesn't compare" because this is the first step to become a more healthy, mindful, and successful person.