#86: Comparison & Jealousy: 3 Things to Say to Help Your Athlete

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Did you know that comparison and jealousy can actually be helpful to boost your daughter’s athletic career? But that requires that she have a certain mindset around it, because it can also lead to jealousy and a downward spiral of not feeling good enough.

Today, we’ll talk about how to support your daughter when she starts comparing herself with others so that she can still steer towards her goals.

What Makes Jealousy and Comparison Good for Your Daughter

Comparison is part of our being; it’s what we do. Comparison serves us a purpose because we get to identify where we fit in socially or whether we’re actually doing what’s appropriate or not.

So it’s not the act of comparison that is really the problem; it’s what we do with the information afterward that is the tricky part. When our daughter starts comparing herself to another female athlete, it’s what she does with that information that would actually affect her confidence. In most cases, she would use it to feel bad about herself, think she’s never going to achieve her goals, or that she will never be enough.

Now, here’s where your role as a mom is very crucial. Our athletes need some skills to be able to navigate and notice when they start comparing themselves with others. Your role is to help your daughter acknowledge that it’s actually popping up, and what she can do with it.

3 Strategies to Help Your Athlete Navigate Jealousy and Comparison

When our daughters tell us that another person plays better than them, or however they will verbalize their comparison, we don’t want to just tell them to STOP. Instead, let’s give them actual, useful, doable skills that they can execute so that they can navigate around this feeling.

Let me share three strategies.

1. Validate and welcome that feeling.

This really is the very first helpful and empowering thing you can do for your daughter. Be curious about what that feeling of jealousy and comparison is. You don’t want to rush past it and tell her to just stop, or that she’s fine, or that she’s good at other things.

Allow your daughter to linger on this feeling. Don’t let her rush past it because when we do, we are actually teaching her not to trust in herself and her emotions. If you want to know how to build confidence in your athlete, help her develop this ability to be with any emotion, to have any feeling, and to know how to navigate around it.

Athletes who are confident are able to go into a variety of situations and feel a variety of feelings or have that depth of emotional experience and still be okay on the other side of it. Anytime that we rush our daughters through their feelings, whether it’s jealousy, comparison, or another negative emotion that they’re experiencing, we are giving them the message that they should not feel how they are feeling.

What you can do instead is to say something like, “I hear you. It feels like Sarah is always getting recognition even when you are putting in more work. Tell me more about that.” Or, “hmm, I noticed that you feel like you’re the worst member of the team. That’s tough. Tell me more about it.” Allow her to acknowledge that feeling and that there’s no getting around that emotion. By giving this emotion the airtime, your daughter will be able to move past it in a more productive way.

2. Ask: what does this person have that you want?

Now, here’s why jealousy is actually a very important emotion not just for your daughter but for everybody. Jealousy actually signals something that we want.

Identifying what an athlete wants is actually the first step to getting her to move in the direction of her goals. It is literally the first thing that we do in the Elite Competitor Program. We help the athletes uncover, explore, dig, and answer this question: what do you want? It sounds so simple, but it is in fact a very powerful question. A lot of times, athletes don’t know what they want. But when they are able to get clear on what they do want, it spurs action, sets the target, and helps them keep their eyes on the goal.

There are different ways that you can frame this question, of course. But it remains to be a powerful question for your daughter to consider. Sometimes, the answer would be that they don’t actually want what she has, which is okay, too. Other times, she will say things like she wants the attention from the media or the coaches, or that she’s getting a division 1 offer. 

By asking this question, you’re helping your daughter steer her direction towards her goals.

3. Affirm: If she can do it, it’s proof that you can, too.

This is a very powerful statement you can tell her on so many levels. In fact, we tell our athletes this all the time within our Elite Competitor Program. If she can do it, that’s proof that you can, too. The reason why I love this is that you’re teaching your daughter that there is an abundance of opportunities available.

We don’t want to promote the scarcity mindset, which is that there’s not a lot of chances, or she can’t really have it, or if the other athlete has success then there’s less success for her. We want to champion each other. We want to champion other females. So when they are getting success, we want to encourage them and celebrate them.

Kristina and I have always dreamed that our community, and the girls that we mentor, grow into strong, women leaders who champion one another. And the only way we can do that is when another athlete or another girl gets success, that we’re encouraging that. We’re happy for them. And we’re happy for them even if it also feels like, “oh, I’m happy, but I also want what she has.” And that’s okay. Two things are true. These feelings can co-exist at the same time, and it’s alright. So we have to start training our athletes at a young age to champion each other.

We have to help our daughters recognize that when somebody else is getting success, it’s awesome, it’s something worth emulating, and their time is coming, too. You’ll just be amazed that the more you encourage them, the more that you support them and you cheer for other people, the more that it comes back around to you.

Moving forward…

When you are able to help your daughter utilize her jealousy and comparison to identify what it is she really wants and help her to dream and really pursue her own goals, her own vision, her own strengths, then you are building her mental game.

The more that she gets focused on these goals, the less tendency she’ll have to look around her and compare herself with others and feel bad about herself. For this reason, we always emphasize this as the first thing in our Elite Competitor Program, to let the athletes identify what it is they really want. They get really clear about their vision and create a Vision Board representing it. You will be amazed at how jealousy and comparison can be turned into something useful for their path.

Alright, I hope this was helpful. Always remember that your daughter’s mental game is her biggest competitive advantage.


Helpful Links:

  • Join the Elite Competitor Program waitlist – we plan to open the doors in mid-July!
  • 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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