#15: Simple Secrets to Overcoming Comparison in Athletics and Life

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The comparison game can be a tricky one. 

It can easily leave athletes feeling defeated, discouraged, and distracted. (And let’s face it, this doesn’t just happen with athletes!)

Comparison is a part of life that is hard (impossible, maybe) to get away from. We are naturally inclined to compare our abilities, situations, appearances, etc. to those around us. 

But, what if our athletes could actually use this to their advantage to improve confidence and performance, rather than leave them feeling discouraged? 

Below, we’re going to learn just that! Here’s how to make comparison become a good thing: 

Turn Jealousy Into Inspiration

When athletes are feeling stuck comparing themselves to that strong player that never seems to make a mistake, they must pay attention to the thoughts that float around in their head. 

Often times, it’s things like:

“She’s so good. I’ll never be like that.”
“Why can’t I figure out how to do that skill like she does?”
“I’m SO far behind where she is.”
“She’s so much better than me. I suck.”
“I hope she messes up.” (Harsh, but true…we often love to see others fail because it makes us feel better about ourselves!)

Each one of these thoughts is unproductive and keeps her stuck. If she chooses to believe them, they easily give permission to feel defeated, then do nothing about it. 

Just like everything else, it’s all about changing our mindset. 

Instead of feeling jealous or defeated, we can choose to feel inspired instead. 

We can change our thoughts to:

“If she can do it, it’s proof I can too.”
“She’s so good, I know that as I continue to put in the work, I can get there too.”
“I wonder how she learned to do that skill?”
“The better she is, the better I will be.” (A great perspective to have if it’s a teammate you’re comparing yourself to!)

Next, she can focus on her own growth after being inspired by what the other is doing. Not on becoming exactly like her, but becoming inspired on your athlete’s own personal journey!

Even better… she can reach out to those people she’s comparing yourself to and ASK how they did it! What kind of work have they put in? What do they say is the key to their success? 

We can learn A LOT from successful people if we choose to see them as an inspiration and seek their guidance rather than feel discouraged by their success. She will be surprised at how willing others are to share and help!

Pay Attention to Triggers

If the comparison game is getting out of control, your athlete can likely pinpoint key times when it happens and choose to minimize or eliminate those situations (especially if the comparison is leaving her feeling defeated rather than inspired). 

Some common triggers…

-Social Media: When we get stuck scrolling for hours on end, often we feel worse about ourselves than when we began.

Action: Set boundaries around when and why she uses social media and go in prepared with some positive thoughts and affirmations for when she catches herself feeling jealous and discouraged (Ex. “She is beautiful and so am I.” “If she can do it, it’s proof I can too!”)

-When we’re feeling low/sad: Oftentimes comparison ramps up the most when we’re feeling sad or discouraged.

Maybe it was a tough practice. Maybe she failed a test. Maybe she just got into a fight with a friend. Throw some jealousy on top of that and it’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break. 

She needs to pay attention to when she’s feeling this way, and recognize that just like any feeling, it’s temporary. Process her feelings in a way that makes her feel good: journal, talk to someone, go for a walk, declutter/organize her room, or change her scenery. 

Then, she can start to notice when she gets triggered and starts to compare, then come up with 1-2 healthy ways to either eliminate or shift her thinking around these areas. 

Back to Gratitude

It is said that the brain can’t be in a state of gratitude and a state of fear at the same time. 

When we are getting trapped in an unhealthy comparison cycle, we are essentially living in a state of fear. 

Fear we aren’t good enough. 
Fear we will never be as good as someone else. 
Fear we don’t have what it takes. 
Fear there isn’t enough to go around. 

When we are experiencing gratitude on the other hand, we are free to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have. 

We can shift to loving and appreciating ourselves and our unique journey, rather than wishing we were different.

When we’re caught comparing, one of the most simple things we can do is create a list of 50 things in life that we’re grateful for. 

Everything from our abilities to the opportunities we have to the roof over our head. 

Try it, and be amazed at the shift in your perspective!

There you have it! Three simple ways to overcome comparison and use it to your athlete’s advantage on and off the court to build confidence, increase belief in herself, and enable her elite performance. Hint: It will work for you too!

Helpful Links:

  • Download the free resources we’ve created for you
  •  Join us inside our FREE Facebook Group – The Elite Competitor Society – for weekly Q&A, periodic trainings and challenges, and the support of an amazing community of moms, coaches, and the men who partner with us!

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