Compare and Despair

I was just in a coaching session, getting coached – yes, I get coached! – and I heard the most useful phrase I’ve heard in a while. I grabbed on to it right away, and I want to share it – and what I learned.

The context was a group coaching session. Four different people were coached over an hour. We had surprisingly related topics, because, you know, “coincidence”. We were each able to build on what the others had said. Our coach mentioned that she saw a lot of “compare and despair” thinking going on. Bingo!

The phrase “compare and despair” is super useful, because it nailed what was going on in our brains. We were all comparing ourselves to others and feeling despair because we didn’t measure up.

I have to point out a couple of things.

First, each of us was comparing ourselves to people who are in radically different places in their lives, have very different goals and are completely different people. So the comparisons weren’t valid in any way, shape or form – yet we still compared.

Second, each of us was comparing our insides to other people’s outsides. Anyone who spends 5 minutes on Facebook or Instagram knows what happens when you do that, right? There’s no way you’re going to feel adequate, because you know what’s really going on inside your head. You know where the messes are hidden, even if no one else can see them. Thing is, we’re all like that. It would be fairer to compare insides to insides…oh, except #1 above…we’re still going to be different people!

Finally, while compare and despair is a useful phrase, actually comparing is not useful at all. It triggers thoughts that are not at all helpful. The good news is that they are totally optional. I don’t have to compare at all.  Instead, I can choose to observe others and learn from their successes and failures, but no comparing.

One of the things I learned today was to stay in my own lane. It really is where I belong. It’s not limiting at all, quite the opposite. When I am doing things my way – at my pace and to achieve my goals – I am being me. There’s no need for comparison. Who’s a better me than me? No one!

And remember, in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,



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