Comparison Complex is this lovely thing that we do to ourselves where we look at others around us in similar situations, compare (us vs. them) and build that person up so much bigger than us that we feel really small, unworthy and bad about ourselves. This happens in all areas of our life: work, relationships, weight, income, housing and yes, even pregnancy.
When I was young my dad changed professions and as a result we switched schools a few times. Being the new girl sucks but being the new girl and going through puberty... that sucks even more!
I remember being invited to the “cool girl’s” birthday party and we were taking glamour shots (don’t judge it was the 90’s)! Because of my dad’s job change we were on a TIGHT budget and name brand school clothes didn’t make the cut. I had always wanted a jean skirt (remember it was the 90s :)) and at this slumber party I finally had my chance to wear one! Not only was it perfect but it was from The Limited!! I shimmy it on eager to feel as beautiful as I thought these girls were. I smooth out the front, turn around and said, “What do you think!” Looking back at this moment I was CRAVING friendship, community, acceptance and was hoping I could mask being poor for that one night. When the girl said, “It would look good if your stomach wasn’t so fat” I was crushed. My immediate solution was to “catch a cold” and go home.
For the next 11 years I starved myself. Anorexia became my cure for that ugly feeling and the solution to finding acceptance. I was constantly comparing the way I looked to those around me. I could walk into a room and within seconds know who’s thighs and stomach were smaller than mine. My comparison complex lasted from age 11 into my late 20’s. After recovering from Anorexia, my comparison game took a turn. It's main focus shifted from body comparison to life comparison. I was comparing my job, my living situation, my relationships...everything. And the thing about comparison is that we never win. We constantly manufacture scenarios where we are the loser of the comparison game and that loser mentality bleeds into everything that we do.
After years of personal growth and development I am thrilled to tell you I have eliminated this habit from my brain. It took a lot of practice and dedication but now I fully embrace my unique shape, job and life. Do I still find myself frustrated in certain situations in which my growth is slower than others? Sure, but I don't start the game of putting that person so high on a pedestal that I could never reach it. Instead I take action in the direction I want to go. Since this took up so much of my thoughts for the better part of 2 decades I can spot it happening with those around within seconds.
One of my passions as a coach is to help people work through their comparison complex and begin to embrace themselves with more compassion and love. We work together to build confidence in who THEY are, not who they are COMPARED to those around them. BIG distinction!
Admittedly I was nervous to experience ALL the many changes of pregnancy with this type of mindset background. My body was going to change dramatically... and would I be ok with that? Being pregnant I have noticed the frequency at which women compare their pregnancy to another. Whether its symptoms, energy, bump size, weight gain, social life, sex life, diet, fitness, excitement level, due date, delivery, whatever it may be, we are constantly comparing ourselves through these 40 weeks. And it certainly doesn’t help when we feel nothing like what the app tells me what I should be expecting!
You might be reading this nodding and thinking "YES, I feel that way all the time!" Specific people might even come to mind when you read those examples. And when those people popped into your head how did YOU feel? Did you feel better about yourself or did you feel smaller? I venture to guess that your reaction made you feel "less than" the girl in your head. We can play this comparison game for years and not even know we're doing it. It becomes a "truth" in our subconscious that others are better than us. We then view the world through that lens of "truth" and it diminishes the quality of our life and experiences.
So what now? Well I want you to know a few things. What I have learned after asking a lot of questions during my pregnancy, reading stories and meeting a lot of ladies on social media is that EVERY single pregnancy is different. AND every single pregnancy FOR THE SAME PERSON is different!! Yes we are experiencing the same growth - but our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual experiences couldn’t be more different.
You'll know the next time you are starting to play the comparison game by the little disappointment feeling you have in your gut. You feel a little deflated and are maybe even triggered to give up, eat something comforting or just shut down. That is the comparison game hitting the buzzer saying "GAME ON!"
The next time you feel those triggers and start to play ball with comparison I want you to go through this exercise and ask yourself these 4 questions:
- What about my pregnancy do I find beautiful?
- What change in my body has been the most exciting and why?
- What unique thing do I personally bring to my pregnancy?
- W hat have I overcome or accomplished that was really challenging?
By identifying and celebrating your unique beauty and experience you won’t need to feel bad about yourself when you’re bump to bump with another beautiful mama-to-be! We need to retrain our brains and rewrite our "truths." Our mind will catalog actions AND thoughts as truth. So we have to make sure we are validating the positive thoughts. The more we do that the more confident, empowered, secure and joyful our lives become.
So the next time your mind wants to step up to the plate and play ball with comparison, take a lap and ask yourself these questions! You are enough in so many ways. Never never never let your mind tell you you're not!
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