Have you ever been cruising along on course until at once a vine entraps your leg yanking you down what feels like an endless hole? Yeah, hasn’t really happened to me either. Except metaphorically it has. Seems to be a regular thing for my cognitive labyrinth. Par for the course for writers. I think it’s because we’re highly attuned to our surroundings (yeah, that’s it).No matter, it happens. We’re all vulnerable to fall into the comparison trap. It’s one thing to challenge ourselves, to engage in healthy competition, but it’s something else entirely when our self-worth and our sense of being tumbles into the trap. It’s important to remain on guard for vines desperate to tangle around our ankles and holes that appear out of nowhere.
8 Signs You Are Falling into the Comparison Trap:
Souring OutlookWhen the world tints from a lyrical “What a Wonderful World” to “Welcome to the Jungle” then you know you’re likely about to hit quicksand. Sentences in your head go from “Man, what a beautiful day” to “I’m sweatin’ like a beast.” Optimism straight down the elevator shaft to pessimism central.
Shrinking DreamDirectly tied in to your souring outlook, lately you’ve also discovered your dream seems like it’s been shoved in a Ball jam jar with the lid sealed tightly on it. Your dream used to be giraffe tall, bounding across expansive plains. Now it’s a barely flickering firefly.
From Curiosity to ObsessionAt first you just convince yourself you’re checking in on “her” so much because she’s your competition. “Little healthy competition never hurt anyone, right?” Not so fast. You’ve gone from a sneak peek to setting up camp on her yard, on her website, heck you’ve practically braided yourself into her hair. Time to back away from the so-called competition and evaluate the two “I”s. Investment and intention. How much time are you investing “comparing” and what are your intentions?
All about NumbersIn my industry social media has become the new “it” craze and following numbers can get a little addictive. It’s easy to lose perspective. To click on Google Analytics in the morning, noon, and night. To feed your numbers craving by assessing your Facebook page stats, blog stats, Twitter stats, heck even Pinterest stats (why leave Pinterest out of this?). Surefire indicator your foot is slipping, when numbers become your god.
Waning Love of VocationYou used to pounce out of bed, excited to reach the drawing board. To have a crack at the craft. But you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling. It’s petered out like a Fourth of July sparkler. And to what do you owe this waning feeling? You’ve set yourself up against somebody you’re not supposed to be—some role you’re not meant to fulfill and it’s lights out for you because of it.
Green Grass SyndromeMy neighbor planted the most beautiful flower bed near her driveway. I look at it every morning in admiration (and a tinge of jealousy). Her grass is green. Her grass doesn’t have grubs. But then I visit with her and she tells me about all the other kinds of pests she deals with on her lawn. It’s never as green and bountiful as it appears, trust me.
In WantSuddenly you are paying much more attention all you don’t have. Commercials hold more appeal. Women look prettier, glossier, with killer mascara. Moms are carrying gorgeous bags and sporting those TOMS canvas shoes. Everyone seems to be with it but you.
Seeking Validation from All the Wrong PlacesWe all like validation. It’s part of our wiring, to hear that we’re doing okay, that someone is proud of us, etc. But at some point we need to know and trust our own steps on the path. If you’re constantly looking behind you, to your side, or up ahead for someone to nod before you take another step, be warned that next step might very well be down a gaping pit.
What happens when you’ve fallen into a trap? It’s immensely difficult to get out. That’s why it pays to know when you’re close to losing ground. So you can stand firm, then move in the right direction at the right time. Have you experienced any of the above?
*photo by stock.XCHNG