Comparison - The thief of joy
How many times do you catch yourself making comparisons? These comparisons can be of you physically and someone else you are training with or racing, a pro or even the athlete you used to be. It can be a comparison of times, efforts, what food someone else is eating, what new gear they have or what podcasts they listen to. I have fallen into this trap on far too many occasions across my sporting and professional career and it is only recently that I have been able to see the damage that it does mentally and how it can cast future doubt on your abilities. In essence comparing yourself to anyone else really steals your joy and hope.
Back in the day when I was a handy cricketer, we played NSW constantly in the national final and lost 7 years in a row, it meant that Queensland only ever had one or two Australian representatives and it was safe to say mentally they had the edge over all of us. We got a new coach and we all bemoaned to him that it did not matter how hard we trained as they were so much better across all cricketing disciplines. Our coach listened and watched us all get caught up in the dreaded comparison of the NSW girls. When it came time to go to the nationals we had trained well and were physically ready. We saw the NSW girls warming up and our coach stopped and said “wow is that NSW? Here I was thinking they were some amazing machines but it turns out they are just girls like all of you”. The switch was flicked in all of us and we instantaneously removed them from the pedestal we had them on and looked upon them as equals. We went on to win the nationals that year and for the next 5 straight and we managed to get 6 Queenslanders in the Australian team and literally changed our mindsets with one simple comment.
I have recently fallen back into the trap of comparing myself to the athlete I was before my two accidents earlier this year. I find myself looking at the ‘Monique before Busso’, or the ‘Monique before IMNZ’ when looking at fitness levels, weight, physical conditioning and splits. What this comparison does is makes me depressed to think that I was at one point and now I am at another. What I need to do, and have been working hard on, is being the best version of the Monique today and striving to get a bit better each day not only physically but mentally. If you suffer from a bit of comparison here are the top 3 reasons why you need to stop comparing yourself to others.
1. It’s damaging your sense of self.
Research indicates that comparing self to others can breed envy, low self-esteem, confidence and depression as well as dinting our ability to trust others.
2. What you are comparing against is inaccurate information.
Generally what we seen in others is an edited version of themselves. Have a look on social media to see people only post great things in their lives, not the mundane dramas that we all endure. The next time you are doing a comparison of someone else stop yourself and ponder if it is really fair to compare when you don’t have all the information to make an informed opinion.
3. It doesn’t actually help you accomplish your goals
Ruminating about others and how awesome they are is really time consuming and ineffective. When you are self-admonishing it decreases your motivation and decreases goal completion. Think about when you are doing laps in the pool and someone flies past you and you think you are not good enough and lose motivation. The truth is you don’t know what training that person is doing and where they are in their training. Getting upset and frustrated can derail the entire session and make you lose confidence by thinking someone else is better than you. You are better off dedicating your time and energy to your own goals and values.
If comparing is how you evaluate your worth in this world, you will always be losing. You will never reach a point where you are better than others in every way and really why would that be a goal? Instead of trying to be as good as or better than others, focus your energy on being the best version of yourself and working hard towards your goals and your targets!
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