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Coaches, Don't let Comparison be the Thief of Joy.

Who you are vs. Who you want to be.

It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. We see someone with qualities we admire or desire and of course we start seeing the contrasts. This is just one way we can see the gap between where we want to be and where we actually are.



For CLCI Live we discussed what is known as the comparison trap and how we as coaches can use comparison in our sessions with Brooke Adair Walters (MCPC), Jerome LeDuff Jr (MCLC), Anthony Lopez (MCPC), Lisa Finck (ACC), Kyle Rodriguez (MCPC) and Jen Long (MCPC), As we delve deeper into comparison we also debate what it means to be content and whether feeling content and having desires are fundamentally incompatible.

How does comparison serve you?

When we compare ourselves to others, we allow that other person influence over us. Their choices and paths can suddenly become more significant to us than our own. While this can lead to getting stuck in the comparison, if you don’t linger, it can reveal the goals that you want to achieve for yourself.


Once we’ve recognized the goal, we can map out the steps to reach that goal, creating several smaller goals in the process. This is where comparison can be beneficial in the coaching space.


On the other hand, getting lost in the comparison can stop our clients from growth. Especially in the modern age with social media, we face opportunities for unproductive comparison with every single post we scroll through. It’s important for us to take a step back and recognize that our perception of others isn’t the same as their real experiences. Social media especially is an example of cultivated life, skipping the bad hair days, toe stubs, and emergency trips to the bathroom. How could anyone realistically live up to that standard?


Comparison can only be a useful tool when we consciously utilize it to map out our own goals and don’t get lost aspiring to be someone else's image.


Aspiration vs. Admiration

Aspiration sounds good on paper but in reality it often leads to unrealistic expectations.


If we’re hoping to become another person, we’re trying to grasp onto a thing that doesn’t exist, ultimately chasing a ghost instead of a goal.



Where aspiration proves unproductive, admiration realizes our goals.


When we admire others, we appreciate and respect them. Understanding this allows us to figure out what we want for ourselves and what is good to leave behind.


How might comparison present itself for our clients?

Some clients hire life coaches based on how they compare themselves to the coach. They pick their coach because they admire them and want something that they have or to be like them. This is where niche coaching is beneficial to the client—you’ve been through the same thing, you have the wisdom and knowledge for your client to assist them on their own journey.


Other clients will make comparisons to things that aren’t in their control. The grass looks greener to our client and they make assumptions without all the information. Our job as coaches is to pull our clients out of this idea of perfection and remind them that everyone experiences struggles. We guide them back to focusing on themselves instead of others.


In the couples coaching realm, clients will get stuck comparing significant others to each other, comparing their relationship to other relationships, comparing themselves to their partner’s past relationships, etc. These comparisons have to be brought back to the current couple in the session. What’s the common factor among all these relationships? The current couple. Bringing these comparisons back to them can help identify places to work on in their relationship without bringing all of these outside relationships into it.


When we’re comparing, what aren’t we doing?

  • Not being content.

  • Not being in the moment.

  • Not looking at how to move forward.

We’re trying to live up to a perceived ideal person. Something that doesn’t exist. We’re often not even considering if we really want to be that person.


Ask yourself why you are comparing? What’s keeping you entrenched in the comparison?


Part of comparison is learning that when we are recognizing a trait in others we’re attracted to, it can be educational. Be aware of the comparison but don’t allow it to absorb your client and their focus and energy. Help them take the information and synthesize it into something new, learning something from the comparison.


Comparing Ourselves

We’re not limited to comparing ourselves to other people. One coaching tool is to have your client compare their current self to their past or future self. Comparison to their past self reveals a client’s growth while comparing to their future self helps identify the gap from where they are and where they want to be.


Comparison between selves is the best comparison we can make. It’s the only authentic and fully-formed comparison because our client knows every aspect of themselves.


As coaches, you might be tempted to praise your client for improving from their past self. This is making an assumption of progress and as coaches we need to let our clients lead. Help them reach their own conclusions by asking your client to observe their past and their current selves.


As clients come to their own realizations, we want to avoid the word progress. Focus on deviation from past selves instead. Progress implies a straight line when in reality coaching is curvy and windy.


Using the client’s comparison to a future version of themselves will help set the client’s goals to move forward. Ask them to envision this future self and question, “How does it feel to be there?” Let your client describe their emotional state and build an emotional connection to the potential future.


Once the emotional connection is built, the client is more attached to the outcome and more likely to achieve it.


Comparison can be good or bad. If you’re going to use it, do it productively and don’t linger in that space. Give your client a moment to identify what they want and then move into living. We can all get stuck in the moment of comparison and let our lives pass us by.


Our job is to get our client to be mindful and move to a place where they don’t feel the need to compare.

 

Thank you,


Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr, Anthony Lopez, Kyle Rodriguez, and Jen Long!


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1 Comment


Hilda Gonzalez
Hilda Gonzalez
May 18, 2022

I am a licensed life coach. I am not sure how to market my services and how to drive clients to my web page. I am ready to go.

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