How To Break Free From The Comparison Trap


I pirouetted across the gymnastic floor, my blue ruffled leotard flying in the wind as I rounded out my floor routine. I was six years old the first time I ever caught myself in the comparison trap.  When I finished executing my floor routine I discovered my score didn't secure me a spot on the podium. In fact, I was nowhere near close to medaling in the community sponsored event my parents had excitedly signed me up for. And as I watched the girls who did medal, saunter across the stage my six-year-old brain went into comparison overdrive. Every one of the girls standing on the podium that day had names ending in "ny" -Brittany, Courtney, and Tiffany to be exact. They all had expensive custom sequence leotards and perfect little ringlet pigtails tied in ribbons and I sat on the benches in my homemade gymnastic custom my mom had hot glue gunned together with my messy unkempt hair and felt like I wasn't enough.  

arizona blogger, arizona photographer, dark and moody head shots, how to break free from the comparison trap, minneapolis blogger, minneapolis photographer-www.rachelsmak.com3.jpg

I know a lot about the comparison trap, you could say I'm something of an expert in the subject because for the better part of my life I spent my time comparing myself and how I measured up to other people, specifically women, and let me tell you comparison isn't fun. There was always someone prettier, skinnier, more desirable I concluded. It didn't just stop at looks either, I'd compare wits, intelligence, and career success and how I measured up against the sea of seemingly perfectly put together specimens who were flawless and killing it in life, looks, love, and business.

My life completely changed though when I finally broke free from the grips of comparison and started realizing that instead of comparing my success to "hers" I could champion it. Maybe you've found yourself in this ugly little dilemma too so I'm breaking down the 5 mental shifts that helped me end the cycle of comparison. 

Shift 1: There is more than enough to go around. 

There are over 7 billion people on the planet and for me, I know that they're not all photographers but these days it kinda feels like they are. I'm pretty sure I read a statistic somewhere that there are four photographers born every minute. 

Whatever industry your working in whether you're a photographer, a life coach, or a personal chef I promise you that we live in a big expansive universe with more than enough to go around. I'm a firm believer that each and every one of us is born with a unique set of gifts that we are called to express during our time here on earth.  

Shift 2: Embrace the abundance 

Can you imagine if Beyonce decided there were already enough soulful artists who can sing and dance and never even pursued her dream? Music, and specifically my workout playlist just wouldn't be the same.  

The same is also true for you. Even if you feel like your industry is completely saturated and there is no space left for you, I'm here to tell you your wrong. You are truly one of a kind, NO ONE can do life the way you do.

Martha Gram has a fabulous quote on this, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” 

Shift 3: Stop doing shots of "compardison" 

What exactly is a "comparidison" shot? It's a lot like its counterpart Bacardi only instead of alcohol, it contains 75.5% feeling like ass. It's checking up on her website, it's stalking her social media handles and going on completely asinine benders of thinking about, obsessing over, and googling your competition. What does this leave you with? Nursing one very nasty comparison hangover.  

STOP! It's time to go cold turkey boo so put down that bottle of "comparidison" and get out of that ugly never-ending rabbit hole. 

Shift 4: Be the seedling

When I first started off in wedding photography, I was constantly comparing my work to every other photographer out there. Most of the ones I followed had one thing I didn't have-experience. But in order to overcome the comparison trap, you gotta know that every single pro starts off as an amateur. Even big beautiful oak trees start off as tiny little acorns in the beginning. Just cause you’re not the most experienced right now doesn’t mean you won’t be and all the people that you’re looking at that have more experience than you did not start off that way, so get comfortable with being the seedling to start off and know that you will gain all the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to pursue your passion if you don't shortchange yourself with doubt and fear. 

Shift 5: Choose love over fear

In any given moment throughout the day, we all have a choice of what we are going to align our thoughts words and actions with. We can either align them with love or we can align them with fear. 

When we align ourselves with fear we feel pretty damn shitty. Clinging tightly to the mindset of fear leads us to worry about things like the money running dry, that we have to compete for a spot at the podium, or that our talents aren't enough in a saturated industry.  It separates us, makes us feel alone and unworthy and we waste a lot of time in that headspace of fear and miss out on this precious gift called life. 

Clinging tightly to the mindset of love, however, allows you to worry less, genuinely cheer others on and actually *attract* the things you want in an organic, natural way. When we align ourselves with love, everything shifts instantly. Instead of feeling crappy we feel awesome. Instead of feeling separate we feel connected to both ourselves and other people and we realize that there is a whole lot of genius living inside each one of us that we're all here to contribute while we're on this planet. 

arizona blogger, arizona photographer, dark and moody head shots, how to break free from the comparison trap, minneapolis blogger, minneapolis photographer-www.rachelsmak.com4.jpg

When I learned that life isn't a gymnastics meet, and there are not limited spots on the podium, I was able to celebrate other people's success without questioning my own and finally break free from the comparison trap.