7 May 2022
When you become a leader, a wave of joy and determination floods over you. You feel responsible for these people that believe in you—and you feel responsible to do your very best to not let them down. As an ambitious woman, that motivates you.
But the question is: are you losing yourself in the process?
Let’s explore that.
It feels like everyone has some sort of secret that you just can’t get a grasp on, which means that you’re not as good as them.
It’s completely normal.
And the good news is that comparison can yield both negative AND positive results. It’s all about choice—and I’m going to help you make the one that serves your wellbeing.
I won’t tell you to stop comparing yourself to others.
Sure, it would be ideal—or, at least, do it less often. But the truth is that we have an innate tendency to do it. On top of that, the societal conditioning we’re being fed and those underlying limiting beliefs definitely don’t help.
Observing this phenomenon, Festinger (1954) coined the term “social comparison” and proposed a theory.
We compare ourselves to those around us, especially based on a trait or achievement that we feel is desirable (money, success, beauty, competence etc.). At the core, it started out as a way to assess our own abilities to know ourselves better, but it turned out more complex than that.
In short, there are 2 types of social comparison:
Downward social comparison - we compare ourselves to those who seem to be worse off than us. It can boost self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and make us feel grateful.
Upward social comparison - we feel inferior to those who have more. Self-doubts sets in, and the lack of motivation and drive can throw us into an anxious spiral.
I’ll focus more on the latter in this blog post because it’s very common, and it’s where things get tricky for our mental health.
Research has proven that (upward) comparison can help you be more motivated, inspired, and overall happier. It can also make you doubt yourself.
So, what’s the differentiating factor?
The thoughts you choose to include in the comparison will define the emotion that you’re going to experience. Unfortunately, the thoughts we choose more often (the stories we tell ourselves) can be negative ones.
If success in a particular area is what you want and you see someone who has ‘made it’, you can either choose to be motivated to get to the same level or to feel inferior and want to quit because “there’s no point”.
The solution is simple. However, it’s as far from easy as possible.
Here are some cool things you can do to help your mind choose more positive thoughts and avoid getting drawn into a spiral.
What’s actually coming up for you in the moment you compare yourself to someone?
Since we’re focusing on upward comparison, you comparing yourself to someone that seems to have “more” means that you desire something they have. You wish you had that for yourself.
So, whether that’s more success, better skills, or anything else, focus on what you want and how to get there. At best, you can ask that person how they got there, but be aware of everyone’s privileges and different advantages (yours included!).
This is one of the most important reminders anyone can ever give you: you bring something to the table that nobody else does. Read that again. It’s not just a cheesy motivational line, it’s a clear truth.
You have a unique set of characteristics that shaped your life, your mind, and your personality—from genes to upbringing to lessons that life has taught you.
Not everyone has the same fire in their heart to do the right thing and help people like you do. Not everyone cares as deeply as you do, and not everyone lights up a room with a smile like you do.
Know your unique value, and show it off every chance you get—both to yourself and others.
Self-doubt creeps in when your intrinsic foundation is shaken.
You see other people living their lives in a way that makes you feel less-than, but you forget that you may have very different goals, interests, and values.
It all comes down to what I’ve mentioned just above: each of us has a different set of characteristics that brought us to where we are and that will bring us to the next level.
Take the time to reflect on what’s going on in your personal and professional life right now. Is it possible that you’re looking at other people’s lives because you’re not getting enough joy in yours? Maybe you feel stuck, bored, or you’re not doing enough of the things that energise you.
No, this isn’t about being sad that you’re not doing what really lights you up at the moment—it’s about taking ownership of your own happiness and getting started with putting yourself first.
The tendency to compare ourselves to others is in each and everyone of us, but that transformational moment when you realise that it doesn’t have to be that heavy… it’s simply wonderful.
Of course, you might have circumstances that are making it a little harder to get to that moment, and you’d benefit from personalised help.
If you want to talk more about how you can create more happiness and positive energy in your life, you can always find my calendar here. I’d love to chat!
… or join a community of successful women who are putting themselves first with confidence and joy.
As a certified life coach, Jeni helps busy, successful women ditch overwhelm & selfdoubt & rediscover their energy, passion & freedom with proven strategies.