I am in competition with no one. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone, in any way, shape or form. I just aim to improve, to be better than I was before. That’s me and I am free. – Jenny G. Perry
We are social beings and need to spend time with those who are like minded and supportive. Being a part of social groups can help you achieve your personal goals by providing accountability, encouragement, motivation and comradery. While not everyone wants or needs to be part of a group outside their immediate circle, different social groups can provide you connections with those that have common interests and goals. For example, I love and enjoy running, but it’s not something my significant other shares a passion for. My running group provides that outside support and knowing they will be there at 5am to go on a 20-mile training run keeps me accountable and motivated.
The flip side to the positive benefits of being part of a social group is comparing or becoming overly competitive.
In 1954, the Social Comparison Theory was first put forth by psychologist Leon Festinger, who suggests that we make comparisons with individuals around us as a way of evaluating ourselves. He goes on to theorize to the extent that objective and non-social means are unavailable, people tend to infer a subjective opinion of their abilities.
While comparisons can be informative and positive, they’re almost always discouraging because we tend to conclude being less than or not as good as the other.
Our greatest protection against falling into or pulling yourself out of the comparison trap is to develop your identity and maintain good self-esteem.
Knowing your values and believing in yourself is key.
When you find you’re having a down day, bad run, fight with our significant other, or burnt the cupcakes for the bake sale, and you start comparing yourself to others, try using one of the following tips to help turn those thoughts around.
Limit time or what you post on social media. Seek a genuine connection by sending a private message, text or call a friend for support.
Focus on the good things in your life. What are you grateful for?
Look back at how far you’ve come. Be proud of yourself and know this is just another stop on your path to be the best version of you.
Troubleshoot, what were the obstacles that kept you from doing or acting your best? Ex. Did you struggle on a 3-mile run today, but had an amazing 10-mile last week? What changed, did you not get enough sleep or eat differently?
We all need our social groups, friends, family and our tribe to provide us with motivation and inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves.