The Beast Of Comparison

It is a funny feeling to get dressed for a run and realize how wrong you’ve been. You used to run for fun, as a passion, as a love, because it cleared all the tangles in your brain. You used to run to challenge you and only you. Now anxiety builds like a lump in your throat each time you lace up your shoes. You hesitate to hit start on your Garmin with the fear of your pace. You are certain you’ve lost your passion. What happened?

Unbeknownst to you, a beast had crept into your life. It turned others that used to inspire and encourage you into competition. It was the voice in the back of your head that reminded of you every person that could run faster than you. The beast was the small niggling in the back of your brain that started telling you that you are small, that you are weak, that you shouldn’t even bother because you probably couldn’t do it half as well as someone else. The beast is comparison.

Comparison has caused you to start looking at others around you as something to measure yourself against; in real life, and especially in social media. Comparison has impeded your growth and left you at a seeming stand still.

By the time you’ve realized what is going on, you feel powerless to stop the beast. It keeps saying, ‘How can you run as fast, write as well, photograph as candid as this other person?’ The things you used to find joy in leave you feeling anxious. You used to share bits and pieces of your life with others and on social media to inspire, empower, encourage, and now it has begun to feel like a chore. You worry about being inauthentic. You compare yourself to others’ highlight reels and wonder what you can do better.

You were wrong. You have certainly not lost your passion. You have lost your joy. You’ve lost your joy in the beast of comparison. He’s come and eaten up your joy and replaced it with criticism and anxiety. The passion is still there, burning like a fire within; it has just been turned on low, stifled. You want your joy back, but where do you even start to destroy this beast, limb by limb?

Let me turn this around. This was me two weeks ago. I was that girl. I was standing in front of my dresser with a shirt halfway over my head, dreading my run, when I realized, “Oh shit, that’s where your joy went, not your passion. You were wrong.”

I continued to get ready. And, as I got my run and workout in, I tried to figure out where this beast had come from and what I could do to rid myself of it.

I get so caught up in the day to day grind, the routine, that I often forget to take a step back. A step back to look at why I was comparing myself to others so readily. The average person checks their phone 85 times a day and fills their brain with endless images, quotes, words, ideas. Which lead me to wonder what kind of messages am I putting into my mind?

I had to take the best objective stance that I could muster. Without truly realizing it, I had taken those in my world (social media and otherwise) that used to inspire me with their consistent runs, stunning photos, heartfelt blog posts and let them fuel my beast of comparison. Why? Because I was lacking one word in that previous sentence, ‘consistent.’ I used their posts to increase the negative self-talk and negative emotions I felt towards myself and then justify it.

As best as I can explain, here is what I came up with to combat the beast:

Take a step back:  Ask yourself, am I comparing because of my own shortcomings? Am I comparing because of too much screen time? Figure out why. Sometimes that means limiting time on social media to realize that the world does actually continue on around you and you’re a lot more badass than you think.

Limit negative self-talk: I was by no means unhappy. I knew that much. But I so often let that little voice inside my head get out of control. ‘Why are you running so slow?’ ‘Jeez, you haven’t blogged in months; you probably can’t even write anymore.’ And I let that self-talk spiral.

Check-in with your self-talk. Is it positive, negative? What kind of things do you say to yourself throughout the day? Comparison just sends negative energy into the world. Find the positive. Talk to yourself the way you would a best friend.

Inspire others through authenticity: I worry about losing my sense of authenticity, both in the ways I share myself on social media, but also in my interactions with others. I don’t want to just share my highlight reel, I want to be real.  I want to tell you when the run sucked or about my photo shoot mishap. And that is what I’m going to continue to strive to do. I want nothing more than to empower others to take leaps, risks, and pursue what they love. I want to encourage others to smash goals, to grow and to find balance in life. This is what I’ve sought to do through this blog for the last four years.

Be authentic. Be unapologetically you.

You. Are. Truly. Limitless.: In the end, you come first. It’s not selfish, it is self-care. You are capable of anything you set your mind to. Truly. It starts with self-love, confidence.

You see that runner on Instagram who runs at a pace you have only dreamed of; you can get there too. It’s belief in self and setting goals. You are limitless. Realize that it takes work to get there. And a whole lot of self-love.

The beast is not dead. But it is a hell of a lot smaller. Comparison is a daily battle. Negative self-talk is too. Hopefully these small things can help keep your beast of comparison from growing as large as I let mine.