Hey, this is Dr. Priyanka Venugopal, and you're listening to the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast. Today, we're talking all about overcoming comparison shame. I have been wanting to record this podcast episode for a long time, sharing a story from my own experiences with comparison shame and how it has, in general, anytime it's ever come up for me, impacted my personal life before I learned how to recognize it and overcome it.
This episode is for you if you ever felt a flavor of embarrassment or shame or self-judgment about yourself because you're comparing yourself to someone else or to a group of people. I would say that a touch of shame or embarrassment can be enough to stop you in your tracks. It'll be the reason that you ever hide from yourself that you're not willing to be honest with where you are in terms of results that you are trying to create. It will be the reason that you stop taking simple needle moving [00:01:00] action towards your dreams, and it will keep your weight loss results waiting. I'm here on a mission to help women and working moms feel more unstoppable in their real life.
And that means knowing how to handle normal thoughts, like comparison when you put yourself in a group, let's get into today's episode. Let me get this right off the bat, that comparison, if you ever find yourself having comparison thoughts to people in your life, colleagues, friends, peers, even people that you don't actually know, is completely normal.
I like to think about our comparison thoughts as a very reflexive way that we have evolved to answer one question. Am I doing okay? I think that this is one of those things where we can't just look at our own metrics because our brain very naturally thinks, how do I know if I'm doing okay? If I'm doing good enough, if I have nothing to compare it to, this has literally been programmed into you since the age of two to compare yourself to peers and friends and colleagues as a success metric.
Over the years, that question, am I doing okay or am I doing good enough, gets really tied up in am I doing okay in comparison to others. Have you ever had that feeling where if everybody else was failing, if everybody else was struggling, somehow you don't feel so bad? Actually, in fact, if everybody else is failing, then it's like a bonding moment.
You get to feel more connected, you can commiserate over how hard a specific experience is, and somehow the terribleness of failing, Failure feels better together, right? But what happens when everyone else is winning or when everyone else appears to be winning and you aren't, this is the moment that the crap storm enters the room.
This is that natural moment that happens for anyone that has been in that place where you look around at either your friends, your peers, your colleagues. Even people that you don't know and you see them supposedly thriving or succeeding and you feel really alone. And the trouble with this is it will further drive you to isolate yourself.
Shame expert, Brené Brown defines shame as an intensely painful feeling or experience. Of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. We feel like something we've experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. When you find yourself in that setting that drives you to compare yourself to other people and their results, when someone else is hitting their goals and celebrating their wins and you feel crappy, here is what is actually happening.
You think that something is wrong with you. Let's really think about how this actually makes no logical sense and yet is a huge driver for ambitious women that keeps us feeling fairly terrible and it drives us to quit on our dream body goals. I want you to imagine that scenario, that scenario that you last found yourself in comparison embarrassment or a comparison shame.
Someone else is winning at something. Someone else is hitting their goals right in front of you. Someone else is celebrating their successes. Literally, this person's success or supposed success has nothing to do with you. But here's what happens. Your very normal brain is trying to solve a problem when that other person is succeeding and you're not.
Your very normal human brain, rather than figuring out the real reason thinks, it must be me. There is something wrong with me that I haven't cracked the code on this. Enter shame. Shame is this hidden, unspoken, dark place that I think of hiding in plain sight. You can put this face on for the world, but feel shame and embarrassment on the inside.
Ask me how I know. I would say that comparison shame has come up for me many, many, [00:05:00] many times over the years. It came up for me as a young child, when I felt like I didn't really belong in groups of people. When I felt different from other people, I found myself comparing myself to my friends, who seemed to naturally be social and make friends easily.
And then comparison shame, again, reared its head in college and then in medical school, where it seemed like everyone else was just a little bit smarter than me. And then comparison shame absolutely touched me in my weight loss journey. It somehow seemed like other people were just more disciplined or more capable of hitting their weight loss goals.
And somehow I was the one that uniquely struggled. Most recently over the past few years, I've put myself in group coaching experiences around my work and my business. Now, before I get into the comparison shame that I have felt being in group coaching programs and what I've done around that, I want to first share, why did I ever put myself into a group coaching experience and why was it worth it for [00:06:00] me to overcome this comparison embarrassment that I have struggled with in some way, shape or form for years?
The reason that I ever put myself into a group coaching experience was because I wanted to put myself in a room with other women who had similar dreams and ambitions to me. I wanted to be in their company. I wanted to learn from them and be inspired by them. And I'm a really firm believer that the people that you surround yourself with, Really matter.
I wanted to experience the coaching that they got. I wanted to learn from their successes and absolutely learn from their mistakes. Mostly I really wanted to grow and push myself to be bigger and better than where I already was. But what I didn't account for in my desires and dreams of putting myself in these really amazing coaching experiences was that I was also putting myself in a group of other high achievers who had thriving businesses and sometimes I would feel like crap about it. I have been in groups where my friends and peers have businesses that are 5x, five times ahead of where my business is. I distinctly remember this one moment some months ago where I was at dinner with some of my coaching friends and we were discussing all of our businesses, which by the way, we love doing and all I could think of during that dinner was, they must think I am so stupid. It feels fairly vulnerable for me to share this on a podcast like this, which is widely available to the whole world. But since part of the solution to overcoming shame and comparison shame is being vulnerable, I am here to do it.
I had many thoughts during this dinner with these amazing friends of mine who had thriving businesses. These are the thoughts that I had. They must think I'm stupid. They probably think that I can't hack it because my business is not as far along as theirs is because they seem to be succeeding more than me.
I thought, maybe they won't want to be friends with me. I thought, what if they don't respect me? Maybe because I was just looking at their wins and my lack of wins. I thought, maybe I will never figure this out. Why bother? Literally, I had a deluge of these types of thoughts, and honestly, it took a really, really long time for me to pick up on it, because my shame, especially my flavor of shame and comparison shame, comes in whispers.
I really thought these thoughts, they must think I'm stupid, they think I can't hack it, I should be farther along. It just felt like I was speaking the truth. I wasn't able to recognize for so long. I mean, I'm saying months, months and months that I stayed with this subconscious inner monologue in my mind, because these thoughts really felt true.
And the trouble with comparison, shame and embarrassment is these thoughts as, [00:09:00] as quiet and subtle as they come, they really stick because you believe them. And not to be dramatic, but really, this one thought that I'm about to share sabotaged my life in a way that made me feel small and weak for days and weeks.
I found myself wanting to hide, wanting to disconnect from these friends, wanting to drop out of the friend circle completely. And also, it led me to show up less powerfully as... The person that I have wanted to be worse yet, it drove me to not be honest with myself along why I didn't have the results that I had wanted.
The thought that sabotaged my life for so long was I should be further along and there must be something wrong with me that I'm not now. When we have a thought like this, I should be further along and there must be something wrong with me. Our brain very naturally goes into confirmation bias mode. The whole purpose of the way our brain works is true.
It's trying to prove us right. It's trying to make sense of the world as we see it. And so the more that I thought I should be further along, there must be something wrong with me that I'm not. I started looking even more at my friends and my peers. I started to look at all of my past attempts.
I started to see everything through the lens of I should be further along and there must be something uniquely wrong with me. While I did this, while I kept this fairly insidious shame thought, I sat in a soup of muck, embarrassment, and shame. No wonder I wanted to quit. Here's the thing that I talk about from the rooftops time and time again.
Failure on its own is never the reason that you ever feel embarrassment or shame. It's you judging your failure that creates your shame. Let me just say that again. Failure on its own is never the reason that you feel embarrassed or ashamed. It's your judgment of your failure that creates your shame. So here's the thing that we need to know while you're in comparison, shame and embarrassment in the muck of believing that something is uniquely wrong with you.
You aren't solving the problem. Your brain is so occupied with, like, let's just call it nonsense. Your brain is so occupied with nonsense, it will not get to work on the real reasons that you're not further along. It will not get to work taking the small, simple, needle moving actions, and it will keep your dream results waiting.
While your brain is occupied with comparison, shame, and embarrassment, believing that there's something wrong with you, your brain doesn't have the space or the capacity to actually figure out why you are where you are. It's not going to be able to solve the problem powerfully, and you will not be able to take small, simple needle moving actions to create the results you want, which is the real reason that most high achievers stay behind on the scale.
Here's the crazy thing that really took me a long time to see, and sometimes I still need reminding of this from my own coach, and that is that comparison shame and embarrassment feels more comfortable than sometimes putting it down. What? I know this is crazy talk, but really hear me out. The idea of having some shame or embarrassment, especially created by comparison to your peers, your friends, your colleagues, even the person you don't know is a very practiced whob-nobby.
There's something that feels really familiar about holding onto your embarrassment and shame. So even though it feels like crap, even though logically you know you don't love feeling embarrassment and you don't love feeling shame, that crappy feeling is more familiar and so you might feel more comfortable holding [00:13:00] onto thoughts that create it.
Now, the important thing to understand is I don't ever want you to mistake the feeling of familiarity for being. The familiarity of embarrassment, the familiarity of shame, the familiarity of a harsh inner critic as truth. Your brain might be more comfortable feeling crappy, but also know that taking a step into unfamiliar territory where you drop the embarrassment and you drop the shame doesn't have to be scary when you know what to replace it with.
In my opinion, shame is an act of abandonment. You feel more alone. So what do we replace that with? In my opinion, I think the best way to overcome comparison shame is to promise that you will always have your own back. Fiercely advocating for yourself the way that you would fiercely advocate for your child.
Listen, if you have ever been in comparison shame or embarrassment, I want you to know [00:14:00] that I see you and I get you. I have been there. Comparison shame is seriously the worst, but I'm not here to cheerleader you out of it. I'm here to fiercely advocate for you to know that having your own back and really taking steps to put the shame away is absolutely possible for you.
I want you to see the truth of what is actually happening when you keep your comparison shame or embarrassment. I want you to see the impact of what it creates in your real day to day life versus taking an unfamiliar new step and letting it go. If you want to feel ready to drop the shame and drop the comparison, there is a way to do it.
Now, you know, I love a good step by steps. I want to walk you through my four step process for how to overcome your comparison shame so that you can feel better living your real life. Catch the thoughts that create a lot of the crap feelings and giving yourself permission to move forward. Step one is to be aware that failure is not what's creating your shame.
You have a shame thought in your mind, and that shame thought is judging you. Just becoming aware of what that sentence is, what that inner monologue is, is going to create some space between you and your shame thought, bringing it to light is how you stop hiding from it. Because remember, as Brene Brown says, shame loves to hide.
So step one is stop letting your shame thoughts hide in the dark, bring it to light and see it for what it actually is a thought. Step two is to challenge your own expectations and judgment. If you have had certain expectations for how far along you think you should be, or how much you think you should have accomplished challenged the lie, who says that you should be [00:16:00] further along than you actually are. Who says that you should have lost more weight than you actually have? Seriously, when you see that you have just made up some rules in your mind, or you look at somebody else who has a totally different life and a totally different body that's losing weight at a totally different rate.
When you use somebody else as your metric, I want you to know that you're depriving yourself of figuring out what's actually going to work for you. Step two is all about challenging these made up rules you have made because they are creating judgment and shame, which by the way, is the reason that you quit because it feels so bad when you think you're not hitting the mark, give yourself permission to challenge the whole paradigm, challenge your rules, challenge your expectations and challenge your timeline. Step three is to ask the question, what emotion have I been avoiding? If you didn't hit a goal, if you made a mistake, you became complacent, maybe you forgot yourself for a day, week, months.
So what? All that happens when you step on the scale and maybe you see that you're not as far along as you want it to be is you're going to have an emotion, disappointed, discouraged, frustrated. So what? I want to invite you to take a moment. And remember that that emotion is just a vibration in your body.
And if you give yourself permission to feel it, you can also give yourself permission to move forward from it. Instead of kicking yourself while you're in the muck of your disappointment or your discouragement or your frustration, which is what the judgment and shame really are doing, give yourself permission to pick yourself up from the muck powerfully.
Now, I don't want you to mistake this idea of having your own back for complacency. Having your own back isn't complacent. It's really an act of self-love, loving yourself in that moment, that disappointing, crappy feeling and reminding yourself. Oh yeah, this is the time that we feel like crap. I didn't hit my goal the way that I wanted.
I really wanted this and I forgot myself or I made a mistake or I went off track. Of course, I feel this disappointment, this discouragement, this despair. Nothing is going wrong. I've got you. We're going to figure this out together. Let's Go. Not only will you stop quitting on yourself, not only will you stop abandoning yourself when you feel disappointed and discouraged, you will start lifting yourself out of your own shame so much more powerfully.
And you'll get back to taking that simple needle moving action. Step four. is to know how to be honest and get coaching and support while you're auditing your results. This is why it is so helpful to have a coach because when you want to be honest in your assessment of your results, when you want to really have a clear view of why you have the results you have without going to shame or judgment, working with the coach helps you bring a lens of objectivity that is near impossible to do on your own.
I think that coaching keeps you honest without being mean. When you stay alone and you don't get coaching or support in being honest with yourself and auditing your results, you just stay alone in your own problem. And remember staying on your own island and staying alone or lonely in your failure or mistake is what breeds shame, putting a label on it and shedding light on it is how you overcome it. Just getting off your lone island will empower you to take one step in practicing your skills again. And I'm here to tell you that just practicing skills is how you lose the weight you want. You don't need perfection, but when you have the right strategy and you practice consistently, you will 100 percent get there.
So to recap, the four steps to overcoming your comparison shame is number one, you want to make sure that you shed light on it, recognize it in the moment and call out the thought that is creating shame. Step two was challenging your expectations and judgment. If you thought you should be further along or have more results than you actually do, be willing to challenge the made up rules that you came up with.
Step three is to ask yourself what emotion you've been avoiding and just be willing to feel any emotion. Step four is to be honest by getting coaching and support so you have an objective lens to really understand why you have the results that you currently have. I think that this is a practice that we can all incorporate as busy working moms, both on the scale as moms in our work.
I think of it as something that can apply to any corner and crevice of our busy working mom lives. I know for me, I have found myself comparing myself to other moms on the school playground, in the workplace with my peers and colleagues. And I absolutely used to feel like this about weight loss. I hope you all enjoyed this episode.
This topic has been on my mind for quite a while, and I love pulling from my own experiences and things that I know my clients really experience. So if you have ever felt behind, just remember you aren't alone. Don't isolate yourself. Loving yourself and having your own back in that moment is everything.
I love you all, and I hope you have an amazing week. I hope you're all loving the podcast as much as I am. If you are, it would be so amazing if you could just take 10 seconds and share this episode with a friend and read and review this podcast on your favorite podcast platform. Not only does it let me know that this podcast is resonating with you, it helps make this podcast more discoverable for women who would benefit from the work that we are doing here together.
My mission is for working moms to know that feeling calm and confident at your ideal weight isn't only possible, but it is something that you deserve. You deserve to feel comfortable in your body. And the only way there is equal parts strategy and equal parts mindset coaching. I have some amazing resources for you.
If you resonate with this podcast that I want in the hands of every woman. The first one is to make sure that you get on the waitlist for my next Unstoppable group. You can get all of the details and join the waitlist over at theunstoppablemombrain.com/group. And when you're on the waitlist for the next enrollment, then you're going to get early access to enroll. The second thing that I have for you is a free five day mini course. You can go and grab that over at theunstoppablemombrain.com. And you will see a link that says free resources. I hope you guys all have an amazing week. I love you all. Bye.