Focusing Inward To Escape the Comparison Trap

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Life is funny. It seems, sometimes, that we human beings can’t be content. Some of us are wired in a way that we are always focused on working towards or trying to achieve that next goal. In some ways, this can be a positive, motivating and serving as a catalyst towards achieving “success” in different aspects of our life, both professional and personally.

Unfortunately, this same motivating, need to achieve can also result in a damaging comparison trap. Trust me, the comparison game is one that you nor I will ever win. With 7.4 billion people in the world, there will always be someone faster, stronger, etc. For this reason, it’s so important to focus internally versus externally. Are you striving to be the best version of yourself or reach your greatest potential? Even though I have told myself this more months, since my therapist helped me understand the comparison trap, just this morning I felt myself wishing and hoping for something someone else had.

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As you all know, Bo and I have dreamt and talked about starting a family for years. Last year we started taking the steps to hopefully make this dream become a reality, God willing. Now, we are blessed to have a healthy baby girl growing and starting to evolve into a recognizable, smiling little girl as we just reached the halfway mark of pregnancy. Shouldn’t I be happy and content? Yes, of course.

Yet, as I scroll Instagram and read blogs I see my friends striving for BQ race times, planning race vacations, growing their blogs and yearn for that. Just this morning, seconds after remarking on my growing baby bump, a friend asked me what races I’d signed up for this Spring. It’s crazy – I know. But this is reality. I feel a gap in my life since I’m not training for a certain race, working towards a blog goal or working through a fitness challenge. For so long, these have been things that have defined me and been a key part of my life and lifestyle. Change causes unease, regardless how exciting. With one plus sign, our life began to change in wonderful ways but ways that are causing our lifestyle and priorities to evolve as well.

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So instead of focusing on what others are doing and what I’m not currently able to do, I’m sticking with what I know is best and focusing internally by reframing my thoughts.

-I’m training for June 18th and trying to be the healthiest version of myself as I embark on labor and motherhood. This means focusing on workouts that make me feel strong, safe, healthy and secure right now such as barre, working with prenatal certified or exposed coaches in group classes, stretching and relaxing in prenatal yoga and strengthening my core and breathing through Pilates. It means using jogging and walking as a way to catch up with friends and enjoy fresh air versus chasing a PR.

– I’m enjoying learning about this new chapter of our life through reading a few books but not becoming paralyzed or overwhelmed by all the information. My mom laughs that she and my dad were able to raise my brother and me without all this focused baby research and it’s so true. The books we are reading and loving are – Parenting from The Inside Out, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. We also love that reading these books together have resulted in some wonderful and thought provoking-conversations between not only me and Bo but also with our friends and family.

-I’m allowing myself to be selfish and focus on me in a way I haven’t previously and won’t for at least the first few years. I’m taking leisurely showers, reading books, having friend dates and sleeping A LOT.

-I’m learning how to be in tune with my body and give it what it needs and craves as it works so hard to grow and develop Baby Girl Diamond. I’m falling in love with my curves and weight versus fearing it. I’m embracing these changes and never ceasing to be amazed by human nature and the steps the body takes to prepare for birth and motherhood.

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So while I may feel a twinge of sadness as I decline races, vacations or tough workouts, I’m focusing on this picture and all those things I am striving towards.

Whether you’re in a similar situation or just find yourself coveting your friends goal, life or abilities be sure to pause and turn your focus inward at all those things you have and that you want to achieve because it will being you joy versus wasting time in the comparison trap.

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18 Comments

  1. Mary February 2, 2017 / 2:32 am

    It’s funny you wrote this tonight (and thank you) because I’ve found myself in the comparison game with you often. Living in Brooklyn, working an amazing job and having an amazing husband are what I yearn for these days but know I need to focus on the good that is present in my life. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Deborah Dietzler February 2, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    There’s a wonderful expression — Comparison is the thief of joy. It is so true. Glad you are focusing on all the wonderful things in your life. You are an amazing person and incredibly courageous in sharing so many aspects of your personal journey.

  3. Melissa February 2, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    Such a beautiful and vulnerable post. Preparing for the birth of your daughter, and readjusting your priorities sounds like a great adventure and the most unique training plan ever. Please continue to share and know that as your blog grows and evolves, it is likely that some of your readers are going through similar phases or are soon to embark on new journeys relatable to yourself.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Beth February 2, 2017 / 1:01 pm

    I have such emotions on this post. I miscarried my first baby this week. So comparing myself to you isn’t the thief of my joy, something else is, but this causes me a lot of pain. Like you, I desperately want a baby and I have gone through so much to get here (nearly 3 years, two surgeries, hormone therapy). Please focus on how fortunate you are. I think you are doing that.

  5. Molly L. February 2, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    This is so true for all of us, regardless of what we’ve been working on, or what we have/don’t have. I’m sort of in the inverse situation – after an early miscarriage last month, my mind often compares where I am now to where I thought I would be or where my friends are in their lives. As I strive to turn inward, I am working to not compare myself to where I thought I would be right now and instead focus on new personal and professional and CrossFit goals in this moment and do things that I can only achieve right now.

    It’s easier said than done but hearing that other people are working through their own version of this makes me feel less alone. All the best over these next few months <3

  6. Nessa February 2, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    Wonderful post! Just what I needed to read this morning! Thanks for always being so open with your readers.

  7. Katie February 2, 2017 / 2:41 pm

    Ahhh! You said this all so well! And I’m so happy you decided to write about it and we got to talk about it on our run this morning because this is definitely something I needed to hear and realize for myself. It’s always nice when you think you’re the only one who is probably feeling a certain way and then you hear from a friend that they’re experiencing something similar. You have SO many great things on right now and you and Bo are going to be amazing parents! I’m so excited for you both!

  8. Sana February 2, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    I think everyone can relate to this post in all aspects of their life. For instance during an injury it must be hard to look on social media and see everyone smiling and running. A suggestion might be to follow more mom+baby accounts? I just wanted to thank you for your kind and supportive comments on all of my weight loss posts. It really helps on the days where I am super tired and just want to relax instead of planning my meals or working out. Happy Thursday!

    • ashleyd February 3, 2017 / 2:12 pm

      Thank you so much Sana! I’ve been trying to find mom accounts but it’s not as easy as you’d think.:)

  9. Rebecca February 2, 2017 / 4:13 pm

    i definitely fell in to this trap when i started following other mom-to-be’s on instagram that were due around the same time…”omg, they are tiny” or “omg, they just ran a half marathon?!” or even lusting after their babymoons. eventually, i had to look inward instead of outward because i realized that was not leading me down the right path. i then became so happy and content with how i was able to stay active throughout pregnancy, that i was gaining appropriate weight, and that we were seeing amazing growth and development at each doctors visit. after M was born, i had to have a conversation with myself about not comparing him to others’ babies and not making judgements of others’ based on M…every mom and every baby is SO different, and we are all on different journeys!

    • ashleyd February 3, 2017 / 2:10 pm

      Thank you Rebecca as this is SO important to remember as we are surrounded by so many different people who all will have different experiences.

  10. Jesica @rUnladylike February 2, 2017 / 10:41 pm

    I totally understand all of this. As I started my pregnancy journey, my best training partner continued to get faster and train harder. I knew I’d be right with her if I’d been able to continue. However, as more time goes on you will see a shift in what feels important to you in the moment. Exercising gets harder and harder after 30 weeks and simply continuing to stay active is such an impressive feat in itself. The break is also kind of nice mentally, while a hunger grows inside you to achieve big things for when you’re back at it. It was hard for me on the writing front because I didn’t have any training or races to write about. I wasn’t sure if people would still be interested in the journey. It’s also easy to look at others who are pregnant and compare yourself in terms of weight and activity level. Just like you write, everyone is different and you just have to focus on your own journey. I’ll be cheering for you all the way. Continue to enjoy this very special time. You will be overwhelmed by how much you will love this girl when she gets here. xo

    • ashleyd February 3, 2017 / 2:09 pm

      Thank you Jesica for your continued support! You are such a source of positive energy and inspiration.

  11. Susan - Nurse on the Run February 3, 2017 / 1:04 am

    Comparing is just human nature, and I find myself doing it as well, and it can certainly make you sad thinking about what others are doing and what you’re not doing. However, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was during an orientation for graduate school. They told us, “No crying on the yacht.” It was mostly about not complaining about a situation that you put yourself in – one that you really wanted to be in, even if it has its ups and downs. Other people probably want to be on that yacht, and hearing someone complain about something they’ve chosen to do seems crazy to them. You were lucky to get pregnant so quickly and have had a healthy pregnancy so far (and I hope that continues to be the case) – not everyone can say that.

    Although looking internally is important, I think it may be vital to look around and see how much you have in your life that others may not. While you may not be chasing a PR, you could still enter a race for fun or travel without doing a race. Running, attending multiple fitness classes, going on vacations, supportive family and friends – you have a lot of positive things going on that others are working really hard to achieve or may not be able to for one reason or another. Sometimes a little perspective really helps.

    • ashleyd February 3, 2017 / 2:08 pm

      Thank you Susan! You are so right and we are very blessed and thankful for all we DO have. Love that saying “no crying on the yacht” as it’s so true and important to remember. Thank you!

  12. Katie @ Live Half Full February 3, 2017 / 3:53 am

    Everyone struggles with this and I’m glad you’re putting it out there. It sounds like you have a good handle on getting yourself out of the trap, keep it up!

    • ashleyd February 3, 2017 / 2:04 pm

      Thank you Katie! Putting my feelings into words helps SO much!

  13. Kara February 3, 2017 / 4:08 pm

    I love your honesty. It makes me so sad that anyone would hint that you’re complaining or that you’re not feeling grateful, as some commenters said…that’s so hurtful! I’m glad you shared your real emotions, because they are valid and meaningful too. Lots of love to you, friend!

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