Escape the Comparison Trap

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This week I’m diving into competition, comparison, and the courage to be yourself.

Are you playing in a league of your own? Or are you playing in the muddy waters of someone else’s desires?

Hit play for a conversation on: 

💋🎙How comparison traps us in discontent and how to stop it

💋🎙The downsides of focusing on your competition

💋🎙Why knowing what we want sets us free (in all areas of life)

💋🎙The perspective shift that allowed me to escape the traps of comparison

You can find the email I read from Cole Schafer here:

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04

This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

Hello, Hello. And welcome back to another episode of Make It Mentionable. I’m your host, Alyssa Patmos. And today I want to have a conversation about competition and comparison. So a little backstory, I woke up this morning and I was checking my emails and I saw a line. I saw a line pop up that piqued my interest. And it was I don’t have competition because I’m in a league of my own. And that was the first line I read when I opened an email by Cole Schaefer, he writes a newsletter called sticky notes that I followed for years. I love his writing. And and this line piqued my interest because competition and comparison are two topics that I’ve really been contemplating, after deciding not to play on certain social media platforms for a while. And so the next line call goes on to write. I know that reads a bit pompous. But please allow me to explain. We’re sold this narrative that in order to be happy, we have to win some proverbial competition. And I totally agree with him, we’re sold the narrative that our happiness is intimately linked with a sense of winning, and that’s why so many people are happy to board the hamster wheel that is striving to be on top. And to compete, is is to compare because the only way that you know you’ve won is to compare yourself to someone else. And so like I’m not against competition, I’m a very competitive person, Jeff and I have a running weekly tally of who is winning more and when we played gym. And competition works really well for games since that time period. But it doesn’t work for every area of life life. We talk about life being a game, but life isn’t a game to be one life is a game to be played. And in that sense, whose playing field are you on? Do you want to be on your own, or you want to be on someone else’s. And we so often think that happiness is an external thing, like, if only that person would change, I would be happier. Or if only we had more money, or that new car, or if only we were in a better relationship, like we’d be happy. But that’s not true. Happiness isn’t a permanent state. And the external things don’t offer the endless supply of happiness that we chase. Happiness is an internal process. And again, I think it’s a mistake to strive to be happy all the time. That’s not human. We’re we are wired to experience different emotions, and they send us signals of different things. And and life gets a little bit easier when we learn how to interpret those signals and realize that like, we don’t have to feel happy all the time. The trick is in being able to bounce and move more fluidly between these different states with greater ease. And so in my exploration of, of emotions over the past few years, I realized that more and more happiness stems from congruence, see when things feel congruent when we know what we want, and we’re living in alignment with that.

And people talk about being authentic all the time and wanting to be yourself. But when you’re comparing yourself, you’re how how do you actually get to be yourself because you’re comparing yourself to someone else’s desires and wishes and then you end up being like them instead of being like you. So the trick becomes, discerning what we actually want amidst the noise and amidst that endless opportunities to compete and compare ourselves with others. And that’s really what I’ve noticed a lot of not being on social for a few months, like I’ve talked about in the past where Instagram like we see so many images, and it just becomes a way to see something and then decide if we want to try it on. But we don’t end up back at the blank canvas, we don’t end up with a blank page in front of us without the input of other people’s thoughts and, and the pictures that they post, to craft what it is that we actually want. And so not being on social not being on Instagram in particular. And not seeing other people’s thoughts and creations and lives all the time has made it so much easier for me to go back to the drawing board and assess what I truly want. And it’s it’s decreased how much I’m finding myself comparing myself to other people, which truly does lead to more happiness, I am happier right now being off social media, because I’m going back to the, to the blank page more and more and more. And as a writer, a blank page is terrifying and thrilling at the same time, like a blank page means endless possibilities, which at times can be overwhelming. But the willingness to accept the challenge of a blank canvas is what truly makes someone a winner in my book. And it’s truly what if those are the people who I respect the most people who are willing to show up with a blank canvas and shape something, how they, how they want it to be shaped to add perspective. So Cole goes on to write in this email. If you’re truly trying to be different, you’re far better off creating your own league, a league of your own a league where you’re free of any competition and comparison, because you’re the only one playing. And I think that is so so so true. I tend to call it like nothing to prove energy like you don’t if you had nothing to prove, what would you be doing. And the first step in getting what you want in life is knowing what you want. So the trick becomes discerning what you want. And comparison robs us of truly knowing what we want, they say, you know, Comparison is the thief of joy. And I think that’s true. But I think it’s true, because joy comes from being in alignment with what is right for us. And comparison can be the ultimate thief, of knowing what we want, and of being able to identify our true desires. And I love this topic, because I’m writing a short book right now on knowing what you want, and being able to articulate it, because that’s how we can create lives that light us up and that we’re excited about and the life that we truly want to live. And so I’m semi obsessed with this topic. And it’s always interesting, because I’ve been writing, I’m at the point where I’m writing different exercises to help readers figure out what it is that they want. And I find that any time I’m about to teach something, or share something, I get tested in that again. And so I’ve been tested on this throughout my entire life, like I have adopted coping strategies of just going with the flow at times not to be rejected, and not sharing my opinions and preferences and just going along with it because then you’re more convenient, and you’re not going to be rejected then, which again, coping strategy, I’ve learned new ways of doing things, it’s much better.

And, and so I started taking some of the lessons and things I’ve learned from from that period of my life and putting it into exercises and how I transformed the thinking. But it brings up as that stuff is at the surface as I’m writing it. It also brings up new things and new challenges. And I’ve been tested so many times this week, just in small subtle ways around what do you want, and being able to boldly stand there and say what I want, regardless of how it’s received or how it looks to to other people. And so call goes on and he writes about how David Bowie responded when he was asked if he had comments tition So David Bowie said, I suppose it’s pretty cheeky of me to put myself in the same light. But if I look at Bob Dylan, he doesn’t have competition. He’s just Bob Dylan, whether you like him, or you don’t like him, whether he does good stuff, or bad stuff, he’s still Bob Dylan. And you don’t compare him with anybody. It’s not a competitive kind of thing. And I would hope that I am, I think I probably am in the same kind of position. I’m David Bowie. And that’s so brilliant. Why are we trying to be someone else, because competition robs us of our creativity. When I’m worried when we’re worried about who we’re competing with, we end up trying to be like them. And if you want to be different, if you want to stand out, you have to be willing to be different. And it’s scary at times, because it goes against what feels socially acceptable. But and I will sing this until the cows come home, when we find our voice, we find our freedom. And that’s one of the reasons I started this show is because I think, you know, we live in a world where, where we’re encouraged to be robots, we’re encouraged to go with the flow to follow the narrative, to not always think outside the box. And reclaiming the human side of us, the side of us that has flaws that that does screw up that that has perspective and opinions and thinks differently. That’s the mess, but it’s also the magic. And so the perspective that really changed things for me is because it’s great, it’s great to know that comparison and competition sucks, and it makes us you know, morph into other people, but like, what do we do about it. And so the perspective shift that changed things for me that made it easier to drop the comparison to drop the competition is it’s not my job to compare myself to other people. My job is to be myself and create what I want to create. It’s other people’s job to discern what is right for them. And who the hell am I to rob them of their ability to do that by trying to be a carbon copy of someone else? I am obsessed with with the difference between regurgitation and perspective, you know, one of the easiest things to do is to read something and then go regurgitate it to someone else, just like, share the exact same thing that you read. The the, the piece that like makes people stand out to me is when I can tell that they’ve added a perspective, because we can be like parents repeating information all day long. But then we’re just getting the same information. And who came up with that from the beginning, it gets messy and diluted. So the alternative is we can add perspective, the people I deeply respect and continue to give my time to our people with perspective. Because we create our world through perception. And if someone can help me adopt a new perspective, or show me an alternative perception, there’s a chance that I make a huge change. I either get more concrete in my beliefs, or, or I see something different. And it completely changes how I think about something. And subsequently, it changes what I do. And that’s what I strive to do with this show is to open up the possibility of perspective. Because when we add a perspective, we reclaim a piece of our humanity, we take a step closer to being human, rather than feeling like a robot.

I think there’s something really, really powerful around cultivating opinions and being able to discern what you want. And again, like when I was looking at hotels for Greece, if the hotel is so concerned with competition with the hotel down the road, that their sites end up looking the same, they show the same view in photos. How can I as a tourist who’s never been there, tell the difference between those two hotels, like please show me what’s unique about you please show me your unique flavor and difference because it might not be right for me but it’s going to be right for someone else. Or it may absolutely be right for me. Why are we trying to rob people of their ability to discern and do we really want Aren’t people here who do really want people on our field who don’t want to be there? So like with the show, like, if you have an hour of your time, and you’re deciding, okay, how do I want to spend my time, it could be with a true crime podcast, it could be with a dose of self awareness. It could be with something comedic and humorous. Like, that’s it for you to decide. So I don’t need to compare myself and how I’m doing like across all of these different fields. Because that’s up to you. You can compare, okay, you can look at three podcasts and decide what’s right for you in the moment, you could even look at three podcasts associated with self awareness and decide which one caused you in the moment and I don’t need, I don’t need to compare myself to everyone else in that same way. Because it’s not my job. robbing people of their ability to discern what’s right for them, is terrible. It’s terrible. Because happiness comes from the decisions we make where it’s in alignment with ourselves. And so knowing what we truly want, becomes a superpower to actually feeling more happy in life. I think discernment is such a sexy word. Like having grown up very religious, there are a lot of religious undertones with the word discernment, which I didn’t totally realize when I started digging into it. But putting that aside, being able to discern and say, this is absolutely right for me, or no, this isn’t, this isn’t really my jam, is so powerful, because it opens up, it opens up the ability to see truly what is in alignment for you. And if you know, one person’s podcasts, or one person’s email, this isn’t, isn’t what’s right for you, there are billions of other people creating things. And that’s the beauty of it, we don’t have to be right for everyone. And when we stop comparing ourselves, we can actually be ourselves. And so obviously, I’m not perfect at this, I find myself in comparison traps on a weekly basis. But again, it’s not about eliminating those things. It’s not about eliminating the fact that sometimes I end up comparing myself, it’s not about eliminating fear. It’s about being able to bounce back from it quicker. It’s about being able to catch ourselves in the patterns of comparing ourselves and cutting it off, and then being able to move forward in a different way. And it gets better each and every day can bounce back faster. It’s not about never experiencing it. It’s about how long do we sit in that place? And how far down the downward spiral? Do we end up letting ourselves go? The power is in being able to recognize it, and then make a different decision to wind back up. And, uh, yeah, so my job to compare myself for other people, to other people, someone who wants to buy from me, someone who’s choosing how to spend their time, sure, they can compare if they want, they can discern what’s right for them, it’s not my job to compare myself to other people. If I would have compared myself to Marie Forleo. When I was starting the show, I never would have started because she pays a video production team to have a very polished video every week. And while yeah, in some capacities, that would be great. I love the flexibility of being able to have a thought fresh on my mind and sit down and and record something while the inspiration is coming through. So

the shift that made all the difference for me is in it’s not my job to compare myself to other people, and recognizing the power of discernment to create a space that is a league of my own. Why do I want to play on someone else’s playing field when I can play on my own and invite in people who think similar similarly, and invite in people who appreciate what that playing field is? I love cold newsletter. And to me, I wouldn’t compare him to someone else to me like the way he writes it isn’t comparable to someone else because it’s so he isn’t afraid to be himself. And in that regard, how would I compare him to someone else? I can compare emails that give copy advice, but that’s not the entirety of what his newsletter is. And it’s it’s been so fun to watch and see how his thought process has changed over the years. And it gives me a new perspective every time I open it up, but then I don’t need to compare it to him. I don’t need to compare what I’m doing then to him, it becomes how can I add perspective to this? And that’s what I got to do today add perspective to something that inspired me this morning and make it and make it my own. I think the more that we do that, the more that we challenge ourselves to add a perspective of our own, rather than just taking something in and taking it at face value, the more we can get comfortable with our voice and the more we can get comfortable, not feeling like we have to compare ourselves all the time, because I think a lot of times we go to comparison because it feels safer. If someone else has done it, then okay, it feels safer. I’ll just follow that path, even though we kind of know that that path doesn’t really work for us, but it feels safer than standing on our own. So if this resonated with you, I would absolutely love to know if you’re watching on YouTube, you can hop into the comments. If you’re on Apple podcast I would absolutely love if you left a review it helps the show and it means the world to me. And you can always hop on over to Alyssa forward slash contact and shoot me an email. Thank you so much for tuning in and I will catch you next week.

You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

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