Pursue What Matters
Episode 18: Costs of Comparison
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Today we’re going to talk about the cost of comparison. You may not want to admit it, but you probably compare yourself to others. We live in a culture obsessed with it. You know, keeping up with the Joneses, and all that. Comparison is a way we measure our progress. So what’s wrong with it? While today I’m going to talk about the cost of comparison, how it really undermines connection. And most importantly, I’ve got some really great solutions to help you overcome comparison. So you can lead with purpose and passion. And I have a really great freebie for you. So I really hope that you will listen to the podcast and then download this freebie because it will teach you all about the cost of comparison. But more than that, it will give you some really great solutions. So let’s jump in.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:12
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Whether it’s related to a parent’s competence on the job size of the house, or the appearance of having it all together, most of us are vulnerable to some amount of comparing. Today I’m going to talk about the cost of comparison how it shows up why it is a big problem, because let me tell you it is. But most importantly, I’m going to tell you what you can do about it. So the cost don’t get in the way of real connection. Because honestly, at the end of the day, that’s what we all want real genuine connection. We want to be known we want to be accepted, we do not want to be judged, Can I get an amen on that one. And today, I have a really great freebie for you. So I hope that you will listen in and at the end of the show, I will let you know how you can access this great freebie, it’s going to let you know the cost of comparison. But it’s also going to give you some great solutions, especially we’re going to focus in with a freebie on how you can use social media wisely because that is that is the breeding ground for comparison these days. And so I really hope that you will check out this freebie and that you will use it and that it can be a really valuable tool for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:44
So okay, let’s go ahead and jump in and learn about the cost of comparison. How many of you have been in a gathering, maybe it was with a group of associates or people you would consider yourself friendly with. And you just knew that you were being judged. The others had their eyes on you in evaluation, in comparison. And as though they were collecting little pieces of evidence treasures almost about you that they would pull out later and laugh about with their real friends. Okay, so I promise I’m not paranoid. But I have totally had these situations where I have walked into a room. And I knew, I just knew at a gut level that this sort of comparison was happening. And I guess I’m not alone, I would love to hear your experience of this, I think I’ll hop onto onto Instagram and do a story in a day or two. So I’ll give you a chance to listen to this podcast first. And then I really want to know about your experience with this and hear if others have also had these experiences where you know, you walk into a room and it’s like, you know, people are judging you, you know, people are comparing you and you know how miserable that feels. So who knows, maybe I am paranoid after all, but I really don’t think so I think that this is something that many of us have experienced. So, you know, have you had those experiences where you just felt like others were comparing themselves to you and that they were evaluating you, judging you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:26
So like I said, I’ve had those experiences and they’ve never felt pleasant, you know, just it’s not cool at all. And how many of you have had the opposite experience where you have walked into a room, you know, to a gathering of people and maybe you know some of them well and maybe some of them are newer to you. But the for too long. You just find this genuine connection and you are laughing and you are with them on the level in such a real way. You know, that is the best feeling ever. So you know what i’m doing Describe with the first scenario is what happens, of course, when we got when we get caught in comparison, I’ve talked about what happens when others compared to us, and how unpleasant that is. And today I want to talk about the cost of comparison. And of course, there are so many costs, but the biggest cost is the one that I’ve just described in scenario two, which is that comparison prevents genuine connection with others. And of course, in scenario two is genuine connection. So of course, it’s a big problem.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:38
So let’s dive into the problem. And in a little bit more details. So Problem number one, we’ve been taught that it’s okay to compare. And of course, it’s not, it’s actually incredibly toxic. So for women, especially, we tend to compare ourselves to one another around appearance. And we’ve been taught that this is normal, and that it is normal to be unhappy and to even hate your physical appearance. There’s even a term for this normative discontent. But even more, we’ve been taught as women that it is good and normal to connect around the ways we hate our bodies, to compare our bodies to one another’s. And to gossip about other women’s bodies, can I just set the record straight, that there is nothing good or normal about this behavior? It happens all the time that that doesn’t mean that it is right or good or healthy. It’s really not like I said, it’s very toxic. And more than that, it actually prevents real connection. And it undermines self worth and self compassion. Don’t worry, I’ll have more to say about most of these things. For men. The corollary is to compare around feats of strength. So okay, mostly, mostly kidding. But I really just wanted to add feats of strength to the podcast somewhere that definitely guys compare around sexual prowess. Okay, so that was also fun to drop into the podcast, but also around money, possessions and prestige. So those are some of the areas where men tend to compare round. So for men comparisons really show up in the realm of work, titles, achievement and pay, which, of course, are all stand ins for feats of strength and sexual prowess. Okay, there I go again, but, you know, I just saw Hugh Jackman in concert. And he was awesome, by the way, but he totally saying the guest on song from Beauty and the Beast, which, you know, wow, he was amazing. And I just feel like we need to add a little guest on clip right here as an ode to feats of strength. Because that’s one of the ways that a lot of men tend to compare is on, you know, around money, possessions, prestige, sexual prowess, that sort of thing. So who knows, maybe in the show notes, I will link to a YouTube video of Hugh Jackman singing the gasstop song for Beauty and the Beast because it’s pretty funny.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:14
Okay, so problem two. So first of all, that was problem one, which is we’ve been taught that it’s okay to compare. And of course, it’s not problem to comparison puts us in a one up one down relationship with others. So when we compare someone always wins, and someone always loses. Of course, at the end of the day, everyone loses. That comparison is about picking winners and losers. But again, it totally prevents real connection. And it’s all about judgment.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:49
Problem number three: comparison turns others into objects for comparison, just as itself objectifies. So everyone becomes an object rather than a real person. So the other ceases to become a living breathing person with thoughts, feelings and insecurities. And you reduce yourself in the same ways that you are comparing. So you know, you’re just thinking about that person as an object rather than someone who might have feelings and might be hurt by some of the ways that you’re judging that person.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:27
Problem four: although comparison involves others of course, right, you’re comparing to someone else. It is self obsessed at it as it is a projection of your own insecurities. So I think this is a really important point as we think about the cost of comparison. Comparison when you are comparing to someone else, it’s always about your own insecurities. So if you find yourself comparing to someone else, you need to look in the mirror because the question should always be, how am I feeling insecure? Or, what am I feeling insecure about right now? And the other person becomes a canvas on which you project your own thoughts, feelings and insecurities, comparison enrolls others in your own personal dramas, ultimately, it manipulates relationships in the service of neurosis. Okay, so this one hurts, right? This one, this one is not good. So if you find yourself, comparing to someone else, if you find yourself judging someone else, look in the mirror, because usually, when you’re judging someone else, it’s on a very topic where you feel pretty insecure, within yourself. And so it can be very informative in terms of your own work, so it can guide you to your own work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:55
Problem five, comparison undermines genuine connection. So it is focused on looking side to side and evaluation rather than heart to heart in compassion. So there can be no true connection when comparison is present. And I think that this is actually really important. So I’ve had conversations with one of my good friends. So Dr. Anna Packard, she’s a psychologist, we have our clinical practice together. And, you know, we have had this conversation, especially when it comes to relationships with other women, where it’s very common for women to bash their own bodies, or to talk sometimes negatively about their own bodies or about, you know, their needs to dye it or to change their bodies. And that, it seems like that is a way that women tend to connect. Now, of course, we understand that it’s actually undermining of connection. But what Anna has said is that sometimes she feels like she is outside of the circle, because she’s not willing to join in on those conversations. And so she’s kind of left out of those conversations. And so she feels like she can’t really connect, even though she knows, joining in those conversations would not really be genuine connection. But a lot of times, women especially feel like that’s a way to connect, if you know, if, if we have a friend complaining about their body, it’s like, Okay, well, I’m not happy with my body either. So this is a way that I can connect to you. And what we actually know is that these kinds of conversations aren’t, aren’t supportive of genuine connection, they’re actually undermining so that you can often feel like you’re outside of a circle in those situations.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:00
So okay, so five big problems there five big costs of comparison. So something we definitely want to change, it gets in the way of pursuing what matters gets in the way of leading Wow. And I think it can really get in the way of leading well, and having confidence in your leadership. Because, you know, if, if you’re not sure of yourself, it’s really easy to start comparing, and then to have any sense of confidence really erode and crumble away. And so it can, it can be really toxic to, to building confidence in your leadership, so we want to avoid it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:44
Okay, so let’s focus on some solutions. So solution number one, have compassion for yourself. Old habits die hard, and it may take some time for you to stop comparing. So be compassionate with yourself. There’s no need to shame or judge yourself for comparing awareness that you are making comparisons is a great first step. So here’s maybe some self talk that you could use. So you know, I’m developing more awareness of the comparing, that’s a good sign, and that awareness will help me change this behavior. Right? So having some gentleness with yourself. Something else that you could say would be it’s understandable, that overcoming comparing will take some time. After all, I’ve been doing it for a long time. So that’s something that you could say to yourself. Another thing that you could say is, although I wish I didn’t still compare, it helps me to remember why this change is important to me. So those are you Three things that you could say to yourself to not only have some compassion for yourself when you notice the comparing happen happening for you, but also they can serve to redirect that behavior towards more effective behavior.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:20
Okay solution two have compassion for the one you’re comparing yourself to. So when you notice yourself making a comparison to another, try connection instead, rather than seeing the other as an object, try these things. So one thing that you could try is to ask yourself, I wonder what her story is. So get curious about the other person. You could ask, I wonder what she worries about at night? So have some compassion, get curious. Try to seek out the other person see the other person as an individual with feelings with worries with thoughts, rather than as just an object for comparison. Another thing that you could say for being curious about the other person? If I could have an honest conversation with this person, what would he tell me? Right? So if I could sit down with this person? What would he tell me? What would I learn about this person? So this solution in having compassion for the one you’re comparing yourself to, is all about developing some curiosity for the other person and seeing the other person as a living, breathing feeling individual, not just an object of comparison?
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:51
Solution three, check in with your needs. Often when you compare, it’s because you are feeling inadequate or insecure, right? I’ve talked about that. So if you notice yourself getting lost down a rabbit hole of comparing, stop and check in with yourself. So some of the things that you could do to check in with yourself, you could ask what is happening for me emotionally, right? So that’s a way that you could stop and check in with yourself? What’s happening for me emotionally. You could also ask, What am I worried about? What is on my mind? Another thing that you could ask yourself? What am I afraid of? Right? How is fear showing up for me?
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:40
Another thing that you could ask, How do I not feel good enough in my life, there’s some way that insecurity is showing up. How is insecurity showing up for me? Another question you could ask is, how is my self care currently, right? So you could just do a self check? Right? You maybe you’re getting yourself depleted, maybe you haven’t been too great about self care. So you could just do a self, a self check in terms of self care, and it can be a good opportunity for you to to strengthen your commitment to self care. solution for go back to basics. comparison is an outgrowth of not feeling good enough. So it sprouts from a scarcity mindset. So never enough time, never enough energy, money, resources, love value, success, you name it, it’s never enough.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:45
So with solution four, I really want you to go back to basics. So solution three, is focused on self reflection, right? That’s what all of those questions are designed around, and helping you turn towards your internal experience. So you can get clear on what’s happening for you internally and why you might be more vulnerable to comparing and then based on your answers to that self reflection in solution three, with solution four, which is going back to basics, I want you to attend to the basics related to self care, which would include journaling, getting clear on your needs, and filling your well. Right, you’re well related to self care your needs, and banishing this scarcity mindset, so you are less vulnerable to comparing because let me tell you comparing, will knock you off of your path every single time. So some of the specific things that you could do. To go back to basics would include redoubling your self care app for increasing self reflective journaling, so right, and I just gave you lots of really good self reflective prompts with solution three. And so those would be really good questions to ask yourself in your journaling. be intentional about pursuing what matters. So if you’ve gone through the pursue what matters process, which is what I addressed in, in the first podcast of the pursue what matters podcast, go back and review it, and be very intentional about pursuing what matters. And then we really want you to stay on your path. And, you know, be consistent about pursuing your purpose, and don’t get distracted by what other people are doing. And recognize that you can’t do it all. And you know, you can’t get distracted by shiny objects, and you can’t get distracted by what other people are doing. And that you only have so much time and energy. And so it’s really important that you stay on your path, and then be consistent about spiritual renewal, and resilience. And that’s really very important when we think about going back to basics, because with the spiritual renewal, that’s going to help to strengthen your resilience and to help you to remain resilient, and to be able to keep moving forward on your path.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:40
Okay, let’s talk about solution five, which is to be wise, but not only to be wise, I want you to be exquisitely wise, I want you to be exquisitely Wise With Your use of social media, okay, it’s that important. Social media is incredible. And social media can be really horrible. Depending on how you use social media, it can be an amazing servant, or it can be a miserable master. And sometimes this can all happen within the course of the same day, depending on your headspace. So we want you to be absolutely intentional about your use of social media. So if you have used social media as a weapon, to compare yourself, and I’ve just got to say who hasn’t? I mean, if you’ve never used social media as a weapon to compare yourself, I would say like, you’re amazing. That’s hard. That’s hard. But you know, props to you. This is this is what I this is what I want you to pay attention to. So if you if you’ve used social media as a weapon to compare yourself, then before hopping on, you may want to ask yourself some some intent questions before you even scroll. Right. So. So like I said, social media is a great servant. It’s a horrible master. So we don’t want to use social media as a weapon for comparison. So some of the questions that I want you to ask yourself, before you even get onto social media, one, what is my intent or purpose with social media use today? To How will I respond to triggering images? And three, how will I respond if I find myself comparing myself to others?
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:45
Okay, so three really, really important questions. So I’m going to have a really great freebie for you associated with this podcast. And as part of this freebie, it’s going to include these social media intent questions, so you can really self reflect if you are in danger of comparing yourself when you get on social media, so that you can use social media wisely, right? Because sometimes, it’s just a bad idea to be on social media, if you are feeling insecure, if you are in a place where you might be vulnerable to comparing. And so as part of the freebie I’m going to have these social media intent questions for you to reflect on and so at the end of the podcast, I will have the link for you where you can find the show notes and also the great resource to download. So I hope you will watch for that at that or listen for that at the end of the show. Okay, so know your limits when it comes to social media. So if you’re not in a good headspace, stay away from social media, if you’ve been down a comparison rabbit hole, step away from the phone, or from the computer or from the iPad, don’t go there, because you know, it’s just asking for trouble. So if you must be on social media for work, or for some other legitimate reason, hop on, do what you need to do, and then hop off. So you know, the next thing that you could do is set time limits, as in literally right, like set a timer, and then get off.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:43
Another thing that you can do with wise use of social media, is to stop following individuals who you are vulnerable to comparing yourself too. So I think it’s important to note that this may have absolutely nothing to do with the other individual. So just remember, like, it’s not you, it’s me. So they may be lovely. And they may be totally positive. And they may be absolutely inspiring and awesome, in every single way. And you may still need to do a social media break up with them for the sake of your sanity. And I would just say, go for it. So the reminder is, it’s not you, it’s me. And you might just need to take a break from them for a little while. And that’s okay, if you need to do that. Just do it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:34
Okay, the next thing to do related to why is use of social media, is consider taking a social media fast. So consider taking a week away, or even a month, maybe even longer, definitely try taking a break during a vacation, you’ll be surprised at how much time you have. And you may also learn something about yourself in terms of emotional coping mindset. And this pesky tendency to compare by taking a break a social media fast also really helps you to set a clear intention as you return to social media after the break. And to be much more intentional about your usage, I think it’s also a really great example for your kids. So I just I do this as a regular course of action, like once a quarter or once every couple of months, sometimes I do it like if I just feel like I need a reset with social media. And sometimes, you know, like, I’ll just do it kind of like every three months just to help me to make sure that, you know, it’s a servant and not a master. And so you know, that might be something that you consider for yourself. Taking, you know, taking a social media fast taking a break from it. The next one with wise use of social media is make it harder to find. So move it off of the front page of your phone, bury it in one of your folders, take it off of your phone, disable the notifications, there’s all sorts of handy tricks that you can you can do to to make social media less present and less visible so that again, it’s a servant and not a master. So that’s really the key there.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:34
Okay, and then another thing is let the research guide you and I you know, right, here’s, here’s my geek coming out again. So we are now at the point that some of the first research is really starting to come out on the impact of social media. And wow, it’s really telling it’s kind of frightening, actually. So the research really supports the mostly negative impact that social media has on our lives. So let me just share a little bit of this research. So the magnitude of the association between social media use and depressive symptoms is larger for girls than for boys, but it does have a negative in the the social media use. So amount of use does have a negative impact for girls and boys. So greater social media use is related to online harassment or you know, bullying, poor sleep, low self esteem and poor body image. These in turn are related to higher depressive symptoms scores. So lots of problems that are linked to social to more social media use. Of course, these are correlational studies. So we want to keep that in mind. But the findings really highlight the potential pitfalls of lengthy Social media use for young people’s mental health. And these findings are highly relevant for the development of guidelines for the safe use of social media. And I think for, you know, for parents for educators, and I think not only I think these are findings related to adolescence, but I think it gives some good recommendations for us as adults, we really want to regulate our use of social media. And I would say, limit some of that use a little bit more.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:34
Okay, so now the sixth solution. So we just talked about the wise use of social media and I had lots of recommendations under social media. But I want to go back to solutions, six, which is to change the conversation. So when topics related to comparison, gossip, that sort of thing, come up, speak up and change the conversation. So be brave, just like you ask your children to, to be brave. So, you know, make a joke, if you must, but be willing to have a voice and change the conversation when people are judging others or being critical or making comparisons rather than, you know, your silence, potentially communicating your support of these types of conversations. So, you know, you could make it Joe, I often communicate things that way. Or you could simply ask for a change of topic. So some suggested things that you might consider saying, one would be, I’m sure we have something more interesting to talk about, then this woman’s thighs, I mean, please, can we please find something more interesting. Another thing that you could say, I’m sure he’s doing the best he can in this challenging situation. Something else you could say, I have a lot of compassion for the difficulty of the role she is taking on. So you know, having some compassion setting a boundary, the voice of reason, I think in these situations can be really, really helpful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:22
So okay, so I hope you can see that there are lots of costs of comparison. And that it’s, you know, it’s just not worth it. It undermines connection, it’s not helpful. And that not only that, that you feel like you have some good solutions and some helpful direction, to move forward and to no longer compare. So it really can be a liberating release. And here’s the thing I want to hear about your experience. So you can send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can always send me a DM on Instagram, which is @drmelissasmith.
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:12
Also make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode, which also includes an awesome freebie. So the freebie with this episode, so I’m going to be talking about with the freebie I’ve got the cost of comparison, but I also have a really great guide to wise use of social media to really help you to overcome some of the costs of comparison. So I really hope you will check it out at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-18 one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-18. And there, you can find the show notes and I’m going to have a link to the Kite sisters and their Instagram account. Their Instagram count account is awesome. It’s beauty redefined. And they are one of those awesome Instagram accounts where they’re really challenging this comparison culture, especially with women and women’s bodies, and so I love what they’re doing. And so I will link to their Instagram account and I hope that you will check them out. I will also try to find a link for Hugh Jackman playing guest on so you can check that out and kind of see an example of him doing that because you know, it’s fun and we can see some of the ways that sometimes men do some of the comparing and then also be sure to download the freebie for this episode, which will include the cost of comparison which we really want to overcome. And then I will also include wise use of social media so that it can be a great servant, but it does not master you and so make sure that you download that you can find that on my website at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-18. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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