Imagine if crowds of people pressed their noses right up against the windows of your home every day.
Imagine if they came straight through the front door and started walking through the rooms, opening the drawers and cupboards, checking your visitor’s book, and having a really good look around. And then, without ever having a conversation with you, they either announced with bravado “their house was really a lot better than this one” and skipped happily away or, with drooping shoulders and a sorrowful expression murmured, “Their own house was really so much smaller and completely inadequate by comparison”.
Their quick conclusions would seem even stranger considering they’d only seem half the picture - they missed several rooms, had no idea about the renovations that were coming, the demolition that had happened in the past and so much more…
It really would seem like rather bizarre behaviour wouldn’t it? And yet you are highly likely to be doing something similar yourself.
Jumping to conclusions and making comparisons.
We live and work in such a hyper-visible and connected online world today. The windows and front door to our competitor's businesses are wide open to us through their websites and social media platforms. And so we can find ourselves visiting all too often, obsessing over what services and programs they’re offering, how many comments they’re getting on their blogs and FB Lives, how many people are in their groups, what marketing activities they’re implementing and so on and so on…
Occasionally these surreptitious forays can be positively affirming as you benchmark yourself.
But in my personal experience, and in hearing the stories of dozens of clients, it’s far more common that these forays see you tumbling headfirst into The Comparison Trap.
This is a demoralising place, teaming with the Gremlins of Doubt, that make you feel less than, flattened, confused and full of uncertainty, sometimes even to the point of wanting to give up.
Comparing yourself to others is a losing battle.
There is an endless number of people you could compare yourself, your business and your achievements too, and it’s all too easy to do so, even when you innocently believe you are just in “research mode”. That can be a slippery slope, with an inevitable sense of being on the losing side because there will always be someone who has done something that you wish you could have achieved or feel you should have accomplished by now.
Most times, it’s an unfair comparison
You’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg without the bulk of facts that underpin it. How do you know if that “incredible program” is actually selling? How do you know for sure that the owner of the website is happy and fulfilled with their work? How do you know if the “amazingly engaged” Facebook Group you’re lurking in is actually delivering new clients to the founder? How do you know that the pretty average looking course is not a huge profit producer?
Even if the projected successes you’re seeing are true, are you actually comparing your business beginning with their mature middle? And is that the actual business that you want?
Stay in your lane.
Rather than comparing yourself with others, compare yourself with whom you were last week, last month, last year. Stay connected to your vision. Measure your progress. Create more than you consume.
Especially when you’re feeling wobbly.
Here’s my six-step system for escaping the Comparison Trap
It’s something I’ve developed over the years, as The Comparison Queen is definitely the Inner Critic who has had the capacity to bring me to my knees and curtail my creativity, confidence and courage many, many times. This system brings in two modalities that I’ve found really useful – Acceptance Commitment Theory and the Emotional Freedom Technique.
- NOTICE –Recognise the tension
- NAME – Identify the misbelief/s
- DETACH – Remove yourself from the trigger
- DIFFUSE – Create space for truth
- RECREATE – Lighthouse beliefs that serve you
- REINFORCE – Regular practice
In essence, the system is about awareness (notice and name) and action (detach, diffuse, recreate and reinforce).
Notice – awareness stage one
Be aware of when you’re beginning to spiral – it’s often a feeling of heaviness, something you can feel in your body. Perhaps for you, it’s a constricted throat, a sinking feeling in your stomach, a weight on your shoulders. It’s never pleasant.
Name – awareness stage two
This is when you recognise the recycled, automatic negative thoughts, delivered by your Inner Critic. They will be some version of:
- I’m not good enough
- My work is not good enough
- X (person or program or product) is so much better
- If I haven’t made it by now I never will
- I will never have that level of success
- My story is not inspiring for anyone
- My results are pathetic by comparison
- I’ll never have as many clients as…
- It’s so much easier for them/her…
Detach – a physical movement in support of yourself
This is when I recommend you have a self-compassion action plan already in place and it may involve things like:
- Get off social media
It’s one of the biggest triggers for most women in business
- Change your state
I like to play uplifting music, loudly!
- Connect to your vision
Have it displayed on a self-made poster, stuck to your office wall
- Reverse Gap yourself
Focus on how far you’ve come, rather than on how far you still have to go
- Visit your Fabulous File
A highly recommended activity – collect up all of your positive feedback and achievements and have them physically stored for you to visit
- Call your Belief Buddy
Someone who understands your vision and supports your efforts, always
Diffuse – using specific techniques from ACT
It’s essential to make space around your thoughts, to “unhook” yourself from them so you can see they are just thoughts, not immediately and indisputably true. I use and teach the diffusion methods from “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy”, a form of CBT championed in Australia by Russ Harris. This simply involves using techniques such as name the story – “ah, there’s the old story of I’m never going to make it”, yep, recognise that one… thanks for coming”.
Recreate – conscious choices of more supportive beliefs
This is when you consciously choose to develop a more positive, affirming, aspirational and supportive belief that serves you. The Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) helps with this and I am a big fan of the Conscious Choices EFT approach created by Patricia Carrington. It’s important to stretch here, but not exaggerate in a way that your mind will reject – exchange “I’m never going to make this business a success” with “My business is growing more each day with every step forward I take” rather than “My business is making me a multimillionaire!”.
Reinforce – consistent work to anchor in your new beliefs
As much as I’d love to report that I’ve found a technique, methodology or modality that instantly and easily transforms misbeliefs and negative self-talk, I haven’t. What I have come to understand is that their ferocity and frequency can be softened with regular mind gardening and being a part of a supportive community.
A strong mindset is an essential part of your Next Chapter Business
The Escape System is just one part of the Your Next Chapter Business framework that I’ve developed and walk my clients through as they revitalise, pivot and expand their businesses.
Would you like to know more?
On the fourth Thursday of each month, I host a Masterclass and a Q&A walking you through this system, with an explanation of the simple but powerful ACT and EFT techniques in much more detail. We also look at the Business Building Blocks you need to have in place to ensure your confidence is matched by your competence and opportunities for connection and community. That’s the Business Boosting Trifecta we all need!
You can read more and register for the Masterclass right here – when you do a workbook will be emailed to you for a little pre-class homework that will help you to get the most out of the experience.
See you there!