The cost of comparison is too high.
Constantly pulling us away from all happening right now, in this moment.
Robbing us of feeling joy. Depleting our confidence.
Sending us spinning into the dark hole of never-enoughness.
And, yet. We all do it.
We compare our present-day-selves to others + to our ideal selves. We compare where we are to where we think we should be + where we wish we were.
We even compare where we are to where we think other people think we should be. 🤯
We get locked in the past by wishing it was like before
All kinds of ways. All kinds of forms.
Because, we’re human.
Our minds are constantly racing + sorting + categorizing, whether we are aware of it or not. Our egos, constantly trying to figure out how we measure up.
What if we let it all go?
What if we simply dropped the rope - and stopped assuming all the thoughts that stream into our mind are real + true?
What if instead of expanding the bs narratives, we turned toward curiosity instead?
What if we stopped using the (perceived) success of others as a measuring stick for our own success?
What if instead of telling ourselves all the reasons why we can’t or won’t or shouldn’t or never will,
We dove underneath and asked ourselves: What it is we really want? And why.
What kind of space would open up for you?
These are questions I’ve been asking myself lately.
Last year was the first full calendar year for me in my new business. Fully on my own.
I presented 11 keynotes over the course of the year and traveled cross-country every month. This year, moving into month six of 2019, I’ve had ZeRo.
I’ve been catching myself comparing my work last year to this year’s numbers.
I believe in tracking. It’s an important part of running a business - and an essential skill of high-performers.
There’s a difference between intentionally observing numbers + trends and being sucked by the pulls of comparison.
The former is perspective-building and constructive. The latter is the exact opposite - it’s a space where numbers become weapons. Perspective narrows. And bs narrative begins to grow.
The hyper-focus on all that’s not is a dangerous habit. It robs us of seeing all that is.
Staying stuck on that one number blocks me from seeing the new online course I’ve created, clients I’ve served and consulting work I done. And the intentions I set to be more present at home.
A moment of clarity that hit me as I watched these two ride out in front of me. As twins, they are forever being compared.
And as their mother I can see so clearly that when people compare one to the other, they miss out on seeing the FULLNESS of each beautiful + independent soul.
My forever reminder to drop the rope.
And today, it’s yours too. ✨
Six Steps to Release the Pulls of Comparison
When I find myself in the throes of comparison, these six steps help me recenter and come back into my power:
Seems so simple, yet so many of us plow through life unaware of the sensations surging through our physical body. Because, who’s got time for that?
I’ve read different reports on how many thoughts we have passing through our brain on any given day. The number’s I’ve seen range between 20,000 - 70,000! If you were to capture your mind chatter on paper for two weeks straight, what percentage would you guess are positive vs. negative? This psychologist ran a study his students in business school and found that 60-70% of their thoughts were negative.
We cannot control the thoughts that comes streaming into our minds. We can control how we respond. We can control who we follow on social. How often we’re on our phones. How we meet ourselves when we find our minds wandering. How often we pause to check in with ourselves.
Noticing is the critical first step.
Deep belly breathing can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system (working in the opposite direction as our fight or flight response). The deep breathing can also help disrupt the thought - emotion looping that often happens when we experience uncomfortable feelings, like anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness or feeling left out.
A thought comes streaming in, emotions surge and then we respond to the emotions without fully tuning in. All of this can happen in mere seconds - one look at that picture on social media and less than a minute later, we can be a million miles away from reality, feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness, our perspective of reality gone - telling ourselves all the reasons why we’ll never make it, too late, never-enough.
If you’re new to breath work, start with a breathing square. Inhale for a count of four. Hold for four. Exhale for four. Hold for four. Repeat four times, using the sides of a square as imagery.
Three: Get Curious, Without Judgement
This is a practice that takes time. Because we’re master judgers. Start slowly. Ask yourself, what about this person / situation / story is stirring things up for me? The word WHY can reveal so much if we’re willing to sit with what comes up.
Four: What do I want?
When comparison drives us into the ground, it’s usually because we’re getting hooked on an incomplete or bs narrative. So make the pivot and ask yourself what it is you want? And when all.the.chatter comes in and tells you why not, just keep pivoting back to what it is you want, and why.
Five: Control the Controllables
This is the place where we rumble with what we can control and identify the things we cannot. Because, we get to choose where we put our attention and focusing on the things we cannot control leaves us feeling helpless. When we focus on what we can control, we’re able to map out our next best steps.
Six: Next Best Step
Put down the phone. Go for a walk. Go to sleep. Talk to a trusted friend. Unfollow someone on social. Write in your gratitude journal. Write a letter. Make the phone call. Apply for the job.
What is the next best step, right now that will serve you, in the long term too? It doesn’t have to be a big, giant step either - because the truth is that it’s actually the smallest steps we take that compound over time to make a big difference. This is where metacognitive tricks come into play, like Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule: count backwards from 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 and TAKE the next best step.
Easy? No. And, we can do hard things.
This isn’t work we’re meant to do alone. I’d love to hear how this process works for you and if/where you get stuck and need extra support.
Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, high-performance coach and consultant, transformational speaker, educator and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Livingstone High Performance, LLC., the Rise Free Academy and the online course, Strengthening Our Emotional Agility — inspiring, empowering and equipping athletes, coaches and female leaders with the skills they need to become more mindful, courageous, resilient leaders.
In addition to private and group coaching, Samantha consults with teams and organizations on athlete wellness, Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), leadership, strategic planning, rising skills and developing high-performance cultures.
A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. To learn more about her offerings, go over to www.samanthalivingstone.com