How we feel about ourselves begins with our thoughts. Make sure you’re setting your thoughts up for success.
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Note: The podcast is not scripted and is transcribed using software. The transcript is nearly verbatim but may not be exact. It may include edits for ease of reading and/or minor grammatical errors.
Welcome to I Can, I Am, I Will. The podcast designed to encourage you and help you build your confidence and self-empowerment.
Today we’re going to talk about a topic that affects each and every one of us. No one is exempt. It is something that we all do whether we are aware of it or not. And it is something that can improve our life, but also hurts us.
Correction, it is something that has improved our lives but can also hurt us if we allow it to go unchecked.
So we’re going to talk about it, so you can make sure to get it in check, and make sure that it’s not ruining your confidence. The thing we were talking about today is: comparative thinking.
For those of you who are new here my name is Lyndsey. Together with his podcast we talk about concepts and topics that I used to build my confidence so that you can build yours. It’s your town shine y’all.
Before we dive in make sure to like and subscribe. You can find transcripts and articles; contact me, and also support the podcast at canamwill.com. I would appreciate any support and I would love to hear from you, and your thoughts about the podcast.
Today we are going to define what comparative thinking is so you have a good grasp of what it is. Then I’m going to talk about how it can negatively affect you, and then we’ll go into how you can change it so it is not negatively affecting you—give you some mindset shifts.
There is a quote that says, “thinking without comparison is unthinkable.” (Ref) I don’t know where it originated from I can’t find it sourced anywhere. The quote stems from the idea that without comparative thinking human thinking as we know it now would not exist.
Scientists believe that without comparative thinking we would not be able to develop the cognitive skills in order to learn. Comparative thinking is incredibly important it helps us too apply our past knowledge to our current situations. It helps us to communicate. It helps us to learn, it helps us to evolve and to continue moving forward.
The first comparison that we make is between mother and other. Every single person does this, no one is exempt from comparative thinking. We all do it when we make this differentiation between mother and other.
It’s because mother has milk, food, comfort, safety. So for us to survive we make that comparison. And then we know who we go to for food shelter safety and warmth. I don’t know if anyone still remembers this show but there is a show called, “The Dinosaurs” and the baby in the show would say, “not the Mama, not the Mama.”
I loved him, baby Sinclair. He is great.
Related article: Comparative Thinking: Why It’s Important and How it Can Hurt You
How Comparative Thinking is Helpful
Another way to think of comparative thinking is if you’ve ever seen a toddler or a young child point at a cat and say, “dog!” And then you correct them and say, “no that’s a cat.”
The child sees a four legged furry creature with a tail. The last one they saw, four legged, furry with a tail, they were told it’s a dog. So the child sees the cat and they think that’s a dog, that’s what you call it. But then you say no that’s a cat, and then the cat goes “meow.” Then the child can compare like, “OK four legged furry not as big meows instead of woofs.”
So they use that comparison in order to learn the difference between a cat and a dog. We use these comparisons all throughout life to learn new things, and to make effective and adequate decisions.
For instance, if you are looking at two different job offers you compare them. People have made a pros and cons lists for comparisons. My Gilmore girl fans out there you know what I’m talking about. And we do this all throughout our life, and it is helping us.
How Comparative Thinking Hurts Us
However, it can also negatively affect us. So it’s helping us, until it’s not. If you haven’t guessed it, where it’s not helping us is when we are comparing ourselves to other people. On social media, to other people in general.
It’s not helping us when we are comparing ourselves to unrealistic body standards, to models and magazines or to someone’s carefully curated highlighted real of their life that they choose to put online.
We’re stuck in this comparative thinking mode. Then we go online and start scrolling and see other people and start comparing ourselves to them. “Oh well her body looks like this mine doesn’t look like that”
And then you can start feeling negative about yourself, because you forget there’s no comparison. No two people are supposed to look alike. If you think about it, like with Kim Kardashian she became an influencer because of her large—we’ll call it—derriere. Because she has a large derriere.
Her body was not like anyone else’s body at the time. When she came out, she wasn’t comparing herself to others. She came out, she had a different body type, and then now people are trying to emulate that body type.
We’re not supposed to be going around emulating different peoples body types. It’s weird. If you take a step back, it’s weird. We shouldn’t do that, but we do because we’re encouraged to in society. Because what happens, is if we’re trying to emulate their body type who’s making money?
Companies that are offering to give us the look that someone else has. If we were confident, comfortable in who we were, and stop comparing ourselves then companies will lose so much money. The makeup industry is like a multibillion dollar industry.
Related podcast: Ep26: Acceptance, Empowerment & Body Positivity
How to Stop Comparative Thinking
In order to stop this negative cycle of comparative thinking, the first step is to be aware of it. Just being aware of it can help take away some of its power. You’re becoming aware of it right now, we’re talking about it.
Then something else that you can do is to bring it to the forefront of your mind and keep it in your mind, and then check yourself when you’re comparatively thinking. When you go on social media if you find yourself comparing yourself to someone, stop.
Acknowledge this is not healthy, acknowledge you are not here to compare yourself to someone. If someone is sharing something on social media it’s because they’re trying to get likes, because they’re trying to get validation, because they want to be an influencer. Or it could be that they’re bored. They’re just trying to share something and connect with people.
They’re not putting it on there and thinking like, “haha I’m going to put this here so people compare themselves to me.” But that’s what we end up doing, because we’re so used to comparative thinking in all other areas of our lives that we don’t shut it off.
Remind yourself and acknowledge that you can turn it off. When I go on social media, I do not compare myself to other people. There was something about the Jenner sisters. There was one of the sisters had a photoshopped photo in a G-string and people were upset and saying that it made them feel like shit because they went and looked in the mirror and thought, “my body will never look like that.”
You Control Your Thinking
I didn’t do that because I’m not comparing myself to a person that is photoshopped and paid for their body to look like that. If someone wants to come here and pay me millions of dollars for me too I have a certain kind of body type I’ll consider it. But I’m not going to be comparing myself to people that are being paid to have a specific body type.
There is a woman on Instagram that I did catch myself comparing myself to. She’s a weightlifter and I lift weights too. I was comparing myself more like, “wow, she built up her muscle and it took her this amount of time. I’m so appreciative that she told me and in regards to my journey and hers I feel that if I keep going then I’ll look as good as she looks.”
So catch yourself when you’re comparing yourself in a negative way. You are here, you are you, make yourself somebody that you want to be around. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Especially when it’s going to negatively impact your life. You have that control.
You decide if you want to do it or not. You are aware of it now so no excuses.
With that we’re going to end with our I affirming statements. You can say them with me. You don’t have to. Do what you choose to do. What makes you comfortable?
Are you ready?
Have a great day.
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Ref: “The Distinctiveness of Comparative Social Science.” The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies, by Charles C. Ragin, University of California Press, 1987, pp. 1–18. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnx57.5. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.