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33. Comparison

Dec 06, 2023

Until I really understood the power of comparison, it used to be an obstacle that I would make mean that I'm not good enough.

I've learned that comparison can also be a teacher and it's been one of my biggest ones. It's had the most impact to inspire me, to motivate me, to encourage me, and to remind me that my dreams are meant for me, and to pull me towards the version of the life that I dream of.

Some say that comparison is a consideration, or "estimate" of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people. But there is no right, wrong or bad inherently in comparison. It's the meaning we give it about ourselves, our life, and what's possible for us.

When we compare ourselves, or our situation to someone else or something else, we do feel some form of despair, and it's because we're focusing on the dissimilarities and not the similarities. These are two pieces to comparison that I talk about in this episode, and the real value of comparison is when you can understand these two parts of it.

When we focus on the differences that is what makes us feel the compare and despair.

In this episode, I'll show you how you can use comparison for your advantage to help you achieve your goals. 


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What You'll Learn From this Episode:

  • How comparison can motivate and inspire us towards our goals and dreams.

  • How to manage the negative effects of comparison.

  • The role of the primitive brain in shaping our thoughts and behaviors.

  • The concept of "compare and despair" and how to shift to a mindset of "that's for me."

  • The importance of connecting to inspiring people and stories to help shift our perspective.


Featured on the Episode:


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Listen to the Full Episode:



Full Episode Transcript:

📍 You're listening to The Success Minded Woman with Deidrea Kiesling, episode 33. Today, we're talking about comparison and I'm going to convince you that it's not necessarily a bad thing and you can actually use it for growth. You can use it for your advantage, and I think that comparison is part of the human condition and it's not going away anytime soon. You can learn how to harness the power of comparison to help you achieve your goals, so stay tuned.

Hi, I'm Deidrea, wife, and mom to three teenagers, coffee snob, and certified life and business coach. If you're a high-achieving, goal-oriented woman and you know you were meant for more, then you are a success minded woman and you're in the right place. I'm here to help you make the money and the impact you've been dreaming of, to step into your confidence, create habits and systems to support you, ditch that and post your syndrome, and harness the power of your mind. If you're ready to create a life and business you love, then let's go. I'm so glad you're here.

Hi there, welcome back to another episode, and this one is a good one, I think, for me, because this has been an important part of my journey and my experience as I go for my goals and dreams and create the best version of me and the life that I would love living is this comparison. It always comes up, always when we're going after our goals and dreams.

It is part of the process, but you can use it to your advantage when you really understand what it is and why you have it and how you can transform it. I'm spending a whole podcast episode on this because I see it so much in myself and in my clients and just out in the world when I'm talking with women in my networking events and just really just out in the world, this comes up so much. I think this is probably the biggest obstacle that I've experienced in my life. As a goal getter and a success minded woman, someone who's wanting to be all that I can be.

This always comes up and I call it an obstacle because it used to be. Until I really understood the power of comparison, it used to be the obstacle that I would make the meaning that I'm not good enough, that this is impossible for me, and really just would look at it as a roadblock. But now I've learned that comparison can also be a teacher. It's been one of my biggest teachers and it's had the most impact to inspire me, to motivate me, to encourage me, to remind me that my dreams are meant for me and to pull me towards the version of the life that I am dreaming of and reminding myself. If she can do it, so can I.

So, have you heard the phrase compare and despair? People say that comparison is a consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people. But there is no right or wrong or bad inheritance in comparison. It's the meaning we give it, the meaning we give it about ourselves, our life and what's possible for us. And mostly when we compare ourselves or our situation to someone else or something else, we do feel some form of despair, and it's because we're focusing on the dissimilarities and not the similarities.

There's two pieces to comparison, and the real value of comparison is when you can understand these two parts of it the similarities and the dissimilarities. And so, we usually focus on the dissimilarities. So, when we compare ourselves to someone else, we are focused on the what's different, the dissimilarities, what they have that we don't have, what we want, what we see in them that we don't see in ourselves, or we wish that we had, or we wish we had achieved. We're focusing on the differences and that is what makes us feel that despair, that compare and despair.

And when we do that, when we're focusing on the dissimilarities, when we are feeling some sort of despair, some form of lack or limitation in ourselves and our lives, discouraged and defeated, we're focusing on the dissimilarities that we will maybe never achieve our goals and dreams, that things won't get better, that maybe we should just settle for what we have, maybe we should even give up. But these are just a result of focusing on the dissimilarities. What is the difference between you and what you're comparing yourself to or who you're comparing yourself to?

But there is a saying. It goes something like don't compare your starting point to someone else's end point, which basically means that you don't compare what you're seeing in the external. When you're seeing what someone is in their life, the external appearance of someone's success or their appearance or their achievements or things that they've acquired, all of that is the external result of their journey, of their process, of their own trajectory.

But you're comparing where you are starting, especially if you're starting something new or creating a new vision for your life or going after a new goal or a dream, you're comparing someone else's ending point with your starting point and so part of comparison. Especially when you're in the compare and despair part, when you're focused on the dissimilarities and it's making you feel bad, it's important to really remind yourself that you have to focus on you.

I like to say keep your eyes on your own paper, because you have your own unique paper. We all have our own unique paper, and we have a pencil, and we can write and create our life on our paper. And when you focus on you and you focus on what you have and what you can do and who you can become, that's where the power is. When you focus on the outside of you, when you're looking at someone else's paper, you're separating yourself from yourself.

So don't compare your starting point to someone else's end point. You look at someone who has what you want, and you compare your current situation to their end result that they could have been working on their whole life. Those ways of handling comparison results in your compare and despair.

I just want to remind you and tell you, in case you didn't know, that is natural, that is normal and expected, but not necessary and definitely not helpful along the way to your best life. It's normal because, as humans, we are designed to want to fit in, to belong. We are tribal by nature, so when we are growing, changing, becoming evolving, creating this next version of our life, our self, on the way to our goals and dreams, we are going to feel sometimes like we don't belong, like we don't fit in, like we're not good enough.

And all of that is instinctual in our tribal behavior that we want to stay in the cave, we want to stay within our comfort zone, we want to stay with our pack, with our tribe, and when we are comparing and despairing, it's outside of us and it could be outside of the group that we're in. And so, it's okay that you're feeling this, that it's causing discomfort when you are comparing and noticing the dissimilarities.

It's normal, it's natural, and it happens so much now, in today's world, with all the social media where we're seeing everyone's best version of their life, curated and on display, we have no idea what's going on internally, and I know I'm guilty of this, for sure, and I'm sure all of you all are as well we compare our insides to someone else's outsides, and that's why it's so important for you to just know that this is normal, this is natural, this is part of our human condition to want to compare ourselves so that we can stay safe.

This happens to me a lot when I do these podcasts. I can catch myself comparing myself to other podcasters who are way more successful, way more experienced, have way bigger audiences and downloads at all the things, and I can get into despair and think, well, what, why am I even doing this? Is anyone even listening? But I know you're listening, I'm glad you're here and I'm glad I'm doing this, even though I do feel a lot of imposter syndrome.

I compare and despair. For me, a lot of it shows up a lot in disappointment where I feel disappointed in myself, disappointed in my life. Sometimes I even get into self-pity that things are so hard. I feel entitled that I should be further along in my business, that I should have more success than I do, thinking I deserve better since I've worked so hard that it's not fair. Blah, blah, blah.

You see how, when you get into this compare and despair, it just takes you down a really negative path. That doesn't feel good. And so, for me, what I do and what I did and why I'm here today showing up for this podcast, is I took myself through this process that I'm going to share with you.

You notice when you're feeling this way because comparison is a feeling, it's not a fact, it's a feeling. And so, when you are feeling that comparison, despair or whatever that feeling is, that in you, it's coming from what you're thinking. And so, when you can notice, when you're feeling that compare and despair however you name that exact feeling but when you notice that you can back up.

I want to say I'm pointing up to my head, back up and figure out what you're thinking that's causing you to feel that way, because that's the source of your discontent. And so that's what I did today.

I noticed my feelings. I was really in it, really in it. And then I noticed it, and I noticed how I'm feeling, but what I was thinking was leading me into that sort of downward spiral of negative thinking. And then I decided what do I want to think about this? How do I want to feel about this? And I reminded myself that I get to choose how I want to think and feel about me, my podcast, my life, my future, my past and you, all of it.

I reminded myself that complaining does not make things better and compare and despair will not get you to your goals and dreams. So that's what I did and that's why I'm here. So, it's actually the opposite. The more time, energy and attention you give to comparing yourself to others and feeling bad about yourself and your life and doubting yourself and the possibilities for your goals and dreams, that is time wasted, that you can never get back and we all get to decide the meaning we make out of our experience of life.

And when you are in compare and despair, you are creating a disempowering story of lack and limitation. And but I am here to remind you and me and all of us you can write whatever story you want. You get to decide how you want to respond to that, to whatever it is, the situation, the circumstance, the person, the social media posts that, whatever it is that triggered you into this compare and despair cycle, you get to decide how you want to respond to that, what you want to make it mean.

And today I reminded myself, I coached myself, just like I coached my clients. I told myself this is what it looks like when it's all coming together. I reminded myself, my dreams are meant for me. My vision of the life that I would absolutely love living is being created.

Today, I am making a deposit on my future and often, when I am feeling low and full of fear and doubt I'm not well I remind myself of one of my heroes, one of my idols, that I really connect with and have just learned so much from, even though I've never met her she's just been a long time hero of mine and her name is Diana Nyad, and she is the only person, male or female, to have swam from Cuba to Key West solo, without a cage.

She inspires me so much and she's actually there's a new Netflix movie. It's not at her documentary I already see there is a documentary about this, but there's. This actually is a movie that came out on Netflix about a month ago and you should definitely watch it because it really shows her mindset and her, her experience of how she motivated herself and how she decided to go after this, this big dream.

So, the summary of it is that she tried to do this five times five. She started when she was in her twenties and she didn't make it, and then she gave up and didn't try again for nearly 30 years and when she turned 60, she decided that she wasn't done yet.

That she was going to recomb it to this goal and she tried four more times to do this and on her fifth try when she was 64, she successfully completed the swim, and I think about that in that movie more than the documentary, the actual biopic movie really brought you into the scenes of what was happening and what her thought process was and her experience of swimming day and night and all the things that happened to her as she went through those three days of swimming days and nights.

I think about that when I get discouraged, when I am in despair, I connect to Diana and I remind myself that if she can swim for three days from Cuba to Key West when she's 64 years old, that I can do my podcast, that I can be successful in this business that I'm creating as a coach and as a speaker and teacher. If she can do that, I can for sure do this.

And so, I share that with you because I want to encourage you to find someone or something, some story that you can connect to when it feels really, really hard to remind yourself that if she can do that, I can do this, and so, whatever that looks like for you, that is really part of what I would consider. The remedy against compare and despair is to find you always want to find something to replace it with, because when you're comparing, you're looking at dissimilarities, the things that are different, that you don't like to be different, and you're feeling despair about it.

But what I want you to do is focus on the similarities. Connect to a hero, a mentor, someone that is similar to what you want, who you want to be, and connect to that for inspiration and that process. When you connect to your vision, when you connect to the possibility, because you see it in a hero, you see it in a mentor. That is how you get in the positive cycle of comparison and that is how you can use comparison to help you to support you along your journey.

You get to decide when you notice yourself in comparison, you get to decide how you want to feel about that. You get to decide the meaning that you make of that. And for me, when I am feeling stress and anxiety and overwhelm which I do a lot and I just deal with it I know that that's along for the ride and I don't make it mean anything about me and what's possible for me, and I have really, I have a lot of tools to manage that now, but it still does come up.

But what I do often I would say almost daily is I connect to some version of a hero or a mentor or an inspiring story or an inspiring quote, something to remind me. So, when you notice yourself in comparison and not feeling good about it so some version of despair, I want to remind you that it's a perfect opportunity to practice your mindset in developing the actual skill of changing your mind, moving your attention and focusing on what you would love, what you would want more of and what's going right in your life and what you're doing right and where you're going, and focus less on what you don't want.

It's an actual skill that you can develop, but it always starts with noticing the feeling and then noticing what you're thinking that's making you feel that way. So, you've heard me say many times on this podcast and I will continue to talk about this because it's so important. Our brains are designed to keep us safe.

The primitive part of our brain, the oldest part of our brain as we evolved as humans, the amygdala. I like to call it the motivational triad. It's designed for safety and there's three parts to it. Seek pleasure, avoid pain, conserve energy, be as efficient as possible. And pain, of course, is physical pain, but it can also be this emotional pain that comes from our thoughts. And, as I said before, as humans we are designed by nature to be tribal.

We're meant to live with other humans and so when we're feeling threatened and some version of that despair or discomfort is where our brain is interpreting that as a threat, because we it's instinctual we want to feel safe in our tribe, we want to be accepted.

And when you're comparing yourself to others, you are, by definition, looking at what's similar and dissimilar, and your primitive brain and your primitive instincts are to focus on what's dissimilar. That is part of the survival instinct, that is a natural result. When you are looking at something and comparing, it is a human instinct. And as humans we have a negativity bias.

We're biased to focus on the negative, because that is how we scan for safety, because remember, we're primed and designed for safety, and so looking out for what's negative, being on alert, is how. One of the ways that we evolved as humans is with this negativity bias.

So, if you translate that into, when you're comparing yourself to someone, you have a negativity bias, so you are, by nature, going to look at what's different and going to look at what's wrong, and that is why this is so important to really understand what to make of comparison and why you have to really get control of your brain when it starts to go down these negative spirals of compare and despair.

So now for the fun part of comparison focusing on the similarities. So, we've been talking about the dissimilarities, which cause us that despair, that discomfort, those yucky feelings that make us feel bad about ourselves. We can turn this around and look at the good parts of comparison, which is focusing on what's similar, and so this is an exercise that I have done many times in my life.

I ask my clients to do this, and I am asking you, suggesting you do this is look at someone out in the world that you are comparing yourself to, and you probably know who I'm talking about.

I think all of us have someone, something that we kind of like, I want to be like her. I wish I could do that, I wanted to be that. So think about that, think about her, and now this is the powerful exercise I want you to make a list of everything that you admire about her, everything that you are attracted to, about what she's doing, about her life, about how she's showing up, about her achievements, her accomplishments, her success, how she looks, whatever it is that you're admiring that you're, when you're comparing all the things, all the positive things that you, that you think that she has and you don't, or that you would want more of.

Make a list of all of that and now go back to that list and circle all the things that you also have. So, this could be things like she's successful, she's ambitious, she's determined, she doesn't give up, she, whatever it is, there are going to be so many things.

When you put your, when you get your brain to go to work on finding all the things, all the similarities between you and her, you are going to get a long list of things that you all have in common, and the reason for this is that you wouldn't even want that, you wouldn't even been comparing yourself to someone that you aspire to be, or similar achievements, or accomplishments that you want to have if that wasn't possible for you, and so you are recognizing something in yourself that you already have, but it hasn't come out of you yet.

o when you are comparing yourself to someone, know this you are recognizing a part of yourself that's inside of you, and so the more that you can connect with that. When you see someone and you feel that compare and despair, I want you to change that, notice that and shift that and just know, oh, I'm just seeing something about what I want, I'm just seeing a vision and a window into what's possible for me, and so I want you to make that shift. And then you say this that's for me. I love this.

When you see something that you want, someone that you are living a life that you would love to live or accomplishing something that you would love in any way, when you see that and you feel yourself in comparison, you tell yourself that's for me, that's what I want. If she can do it, I can do it. And just know that that is meant for you. That is a message for you, that that's something that you want.

So, you can shift that to, that's for me. I would love that and just know that. That is always a sign and signal for you. It's an invitation really to you to step out more into step out of your comfort zone and more into the possibility and more into your belief of who you want to be and what you, what you want to have and be and do in your life. That's for me. You recognize it, you claim it for yourself, that's for me, and then you make it happen and that's how it works.

So, comparison you can either use it to go into despair and feel bad and lack and negativity and go look for all the reasons why you can't have what you, what you want. Or you can notice when you're in comparison and you can choose to feel empowered, excited, inspired, exhilarated, stepping into possibility and belief and say that's for me, that's for me. I'm going to make that happen because if she can do it, I can do it, and that's what I want for you and for me and for all of us.

We can do this. We can create the best version of ourselves. We can create the goals and dreams that we have, that are inside of us, and some of us don't even know what all that is. We just know that there's a longing for something more, and so we're all in this together. That's for me, and you can use that to remind yourself your dreams are meant for you. You're on the way, and this is where you start building your belief that what you want you can achieve.

And so, one last thing I want to mention about comparison is that often it triggers us into some sense of competition, and I just want to remind all of us that when we are feeling competitive, it's blocking our creativity. You cannot be competitive and creative at the same time. Wallace Wattles says that in the, in the science of success, that competition kills creativity. And so, you want to be yourself.

There's I think I've mentioned this in another podcast. Our normal way of thinking is that there's a pie, right, and if I take my piece, you don't get your piece. But really, life is a bakery, and we can all make whatever pie we want to make. So, the quote comparison is the thief of joy.

Compare yourself to yourself, compare yourself to who you were and who you want to become. So, we'll end it here with this one last quote that I absolutely love what lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you, and I'll leave you with this last one be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

All right, I'll talk to you all next week. Bye!

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Thanks for joining me this week on The Success Minded Woman Podcast. If you like what you heard on the podcast, and you want to know more, then head on over to where you can sign up for my weekly success and mindset tips to help you create your dream come true life. Talk to you all next week. Bye.


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