Falling into the comparison trap is easy. That’s because you’ve got a lot of material to work with everywhere you look. Between social media, your relationships in your day-to-day life and yes, even on the Peloton Leaderboard, it’s impossible to completely avoid comparing yourself to someone else. But you can use comparison in a healthy way; you just have to retrain the way you think about it.
Read on for a glimpse at this week’s episodes to learn how to do just that. Peloton instructor and podcast host Tunde Oyeneyin chats with guests Susan Fiske, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University and author of Envy Up, Scorn Down: How Status Divides Us; Peloton instructor Emma Lovewell; and Peloton Member Shirley Beard.
Change a Comparison Mindset to One That’s Collaborative
Instead of constantly looking at friends or family and thinking about what they’ve accomplished or have that you don’t, think of yourself as a team. “Teamwork means you’re dependent on others to get to a goal you care about,” says Fiske. “Part of being on a team means that people are going to be better at certain things than other people. Place your own strengths and weaknesses in this context. You’ll then have this whole network of enmeshed people on a team. When it goes well, you can feel it humming along, and it leads to everybody's feelings of success. It’s shared success in a way that's bigger than any one individual.”
Fiske also explains how comparison works both up and down, and how downward comparison can be just as dangerous and unhealthy as comparing yourself to someone who’s succeeding.
Compare Yourself to You
In addition, “It can be useful to view yourself as a benchmark,” Fiske says. “It’s more constructive than using somebody else as a benchmark, because they're different from you. They have different strengths and weaknesses, and it pits you against them.”
Seeing your own progress (or even setbacks) from where you started will give you a more accurate comparison. You’re able to see what you’re doing—or what you could be doing more of—that will help you reach your personal goals.
Shirley learned how to do this when she got her Peloton Bike during the height of the pandemic. At 70 years old, she shifted her brain to focus on internal comparison, looking at her progress and how physical activity made her feel. Her insight will inspire you to try something new and give yourself a learning curve while doing it, understanding that we’re all coming from different starting points.
Tips to Get Out of the Comparison Trap
It’s inevitable and human: Some days you’re going to get caught in an Instagram hole, comparing your life, your house and/or your relationships to others. Emma learned this early on as she tried to make a name for herself as a professional dancer. The problem? She and her group of friends were all competing for the same roles, ones she often lost out on. On the podcast, Emma shares her strategies that still help her today when she finds herself feeling down from comparison. (Spoiler: Her top tip is putting that phone down.)
One of her biggest takeaways she’s learned thus far? “You can appreciate someone else’s beauty without questioning your own,” she says. “If you can look at a flower and think, ‘How beautiful is this flower?’ It doesn't mean that you're ugly.”
Listen to the full episode for more and don’t forget to participate in Tunde’s weekly Fitness Flipped challenge, a two-parter that will help you recognize when you start comparing and the fast trick you can do to stop it. Try it after you listen, tag @tunde2tunde and @OnePeloton and use #FitnessFlipped to participate.