There are things our human brains have done for so long that we decide at some point that’s just the way it has to be.
We learn to live with the brain’s negative bias.
We think fear has power over us.
And we compare ourselves in the harshest way to other people and to other versions of ourselves.
In this episode I’ll share three ways that thoughts of comparison stunt us in our lives.
I’ll offer mindset shifts that lead to self-acceptance and create opportunities to find peace and move forward in lives that are better than before breast cancer.
Listen now and take the next step to loving who you are in this moment.
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Read the full transcript
You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started.
Hello, friends, welcome to episode 262 of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And I'm back this week with life lesson number three, after 12 years of managing breast cancer, my first diagnosis of breast cancer was in July of 2011. And this month, the anniversary month, I just wanted to share some of the biggest lessons I've learned not only from my own personal experience, but also it's just a culmination of experiences from coaching other women shared experiences that we have. And I think the important thing about mentioning that this is not just my experience, but shared experiences with dozens and dozens and dozens of other survivors. I think the importance in that is to help you know that you're not alone in this struggle to help you know that you're not alone, that the thoughts you have aren't crazy, aren't weird, aren't things that nobody else goes through. Because we have a tendency to go that route. When we're in a place where we're struggling emotionally, we have a tendency to think that somehow other people have figured it out, and we haven't, and we beat ourselves up. And we wind up being even less of a support to ourselves, not even just less of a support but actually undermining ourselves. So I think it's important to understand that there are many shared experiences in the human experience in the breast cancer experience, and the different traumas that people go through as human beings with human brains. We have some shared experiences. And I think that in that understanding and accepting offers us a connection. And for me, and for what I've seen a sense of grounding, a sense of peace, a sense of, you're not isolated, and you're not alone. And it's absolutely okay to feel what you're feeling and normal to go through what you're going through. All right. If you are a new listener, no, again, this is life lesson number three, episode number three. So I encourage you to go back and listen to one in two. And if you are a repeat listener, and you love listening to the podcast, I would appreciate so much if you would take a moment to leave a rating and review for the breast cancer recovery coach podcast, it is so helpful to the podcast, it means the world to me. And it helps other people who might benefit by hearing it to find the podcast more easily. So you can leave a review, go right down wherever you listen to your podcast. It's easy on Apple, if you're listening through Apple podcasts. And I think through Google, you can just scroll down and hit like or follow or something like that. But be sure to follow follow the podcast on whatever platform you're listening to. So you never miss an episode because I put out two episodes a week. One really focusing more on our mental emotional health and our thoughts and how they impact us. And the second one focusing on techniques and skills and information to support the terrain of your body as you work to have the healthiest body that you can possibly have. So check them out, leave a review. And let's get into this show. All right, so life lesson number three, comparison does not support forward momentum. Let's talk about what that means. I see I would say three big categories of comparison. And those are comparing ourselves to ourself to past versions of ourselves to what we think future versions of ourselves should be. I see comparison towards others. And I see comparison towards this imaginary idea. And I want to talk about each of them and what comes of them and what steps you can do to avoid this pitfall of comparison why that's important. So let's talk about comparing ourselves to ourselves. We go through a cancer experience. We come out of it. And oftentimes, you know, we're just we're drowning in fear. We feel unsafe. We feel uncertain about life. We may be questioning many things about life. It's a very tentative space with lots of emotions and law. have thoughts. And when we're in a space like that it's difficult to feel everything. It's difficult to process everything because who has the tools for that? If you haven't been through something as traumatic as breast cancer or another life threatening experience? How do you have the tools to know what steps to do to support yourself? You don't. So you're kind of swimming in all of this unfamiliar emotions, this unfamiliar body that has been changed through cancer surgeries and treatments. And you're in this space of figuring out, who am I? What am I doing here? What has just happened to me? And then you're also trying to figure out how do I support myself? What are the tools, what do I do? So what we tend to do in that situation is go to what is familiar, what feels safe, because it's familiar. And that is the past. And we look to the past. And we look to what our bodies were like, six months ago, a year ago, however long it is that you go through treatment, and you come out of it. And we look right back to saying I want to get back to that I want to be the way that I was I want to do the things that I did. And I've talked about so many times on this podcast, we can we just own an embrace that that's not gonna happen. Right? That is not possible. We cannot undo a traumatic experience. We can't undo what we've been through. And even to be in that space and want to undo it want to act like it didn't happen want to go back to the way that it was before. That is an important space to just explore on your own, like, why not spend some time processing what you've been through. This is that part of really supporting healing, allowing yourself to be in that discomfort. So we compare ourselves to who we used to be. And what happens as a result of that. Without fail when we compare ourselves to who we used to be, we end up inside this in frustration, in disappointment. Now, I want to point out here very carefully before I talk to comparing ourselves to future version, because it takes a bit of work, what I have seen and what I have experienced to really focus on the future version of ourselves. When we're in comparison, we might even think that we're focusing on the future version of ourselves. But we're actually still focusing on the past. So what I mean by that is, we might have been a runner before we went through cancer treatment. And as a result of chemotherapy or ongoing aromatase inhibitor therapy, hormone therapies, your joints hurt. And so it's not possible to run or at least not possible to do it in the same way you used to it's not as comfortable may be painful. And the impact may be detrimental to you, depending on what's happening in your body. And so you say to yourself, Okay, in the future, I want to be like this, I want to figure out how to run again. And can you see the subtle dynamic there is that you're still focusing on the past rather than just accepting where the body is. So we tell ourselves, this is what I want to be. But where we want to be is something that's embracing what we used to be, instead of just really centering on where we are at now, what we're experiencing now, what our body need now, and how to support our bodies in moving forward and just step by step, reevaluating continuously, what do I need to move forward, what's working for me, and opening ourselves to what may help you feel the way you really want to feel because that's what this is all about. When we say we want to go back to a way something used to be if we say I want to go back to running, I want to go back to being naive, I want to go back to feeling innocent about disease and life threatening experiences, then what we're saying essentially, is I want to feel the way that that used to feel this is a really important distinction, friends, because it isn't the activity necessarily, that created that you want so bad that you're craving so bad that you think you want to recreate, but it's the feeling that came from it, we are motivated to do things in life because we want to feel a certain way. We want to feel happy, or we want to feel joyful, or we want to feel excited, or we want to feel calm or at peace, whatever that is. And sometimes we confuse that with the action we used to take. We remember Oh, at that time, I felt like this. And this is how I want to feel again. So I need to go back and do those things, or I need to unlearn what I've learned so that I can feel that way again. And that's just gets you into this mucky mess of regret, right of really trying to grab on and hold on to the past and regretting what has been changed rather than realizing opening space by being in the moment, opening space for yourself by saying okay, if I want to feel exhilarated again. What can I do now? My life that might bring about exhilaration. I know in the past, I used to do this thing. But maybe now my physical body or my emotional body isn't there isn't ready to do that. But what else might bring exhilaration. And then we create space to really start to build that new future life. And I want to point out here that there's a big difference between comparison and goal setting. So if we're thinking about the future version of us, and let's say that I'm thinking, Okay, here's my own personal example, I gained 45 pounds during chemotherapy and hormone treatments. And I see this future version of myself as someone who's able to work out again, because after chemo, I wasn't had severe neuropathy, severe fatigue, a lot of issues going on. So I saw myself as someone who wanted to be able to exercise again, the way that I used to miss relented, and because that's what my thoughts were at the time. And I saw myself as someone who would get back to the weight that I was before I had gone through those experiences. Now, here's the difference. When I have a goal of getting somewhere, then I have space to create a strategy, then I can accept where I'm at now, I can see what I need now. And I can start taking small steps toward the change I want to create. When I'm in comparison to where I used to be, then I'm looking where I'm at now. And I'm judging, and I'm beating myself up. And I'm condemning myself, for what I am not that I used to be, and somehow lost or somehow had taken away from me. And that creates the feelings that I talked about a minute ago. Frustration, anger, resentment, bitterness, sadness, when we're in comparison. So even if I want to be like I was before, if I reframe that, and say, I want to feel good, when I work out, I want to be at a weight that I felt good in my clothes that that I felt good in my physical outward experience as just reframing that slight shift from this is a goal of mine. And here are some strategies and steps I can take to get there to that's where I want to go back to is a really subtle, but powerful shift, and a powerful change in the way that you treat yourself. I hope that makes sense. So when we're in comparison with ourselves, that's two ways to look at it. 1am, I holding on to the past and saying want to go backwards, or 2am, I saying I'm open to going forward. Because even though I have a vision or a goal, even though I might have said I want to get back there, if I'm forward focused. And if I'm implementing a strategy to move forward. If I'm holding space for myself, then in that process, I'm also open to change. I'm also open to being flexible. I also realize that as I'm working towards a goal, things might go this way things might go that way. And I might be open to accepting something different along that route along that path. But I'm open to saying, let's see what happens. versus saying, I'm gonna get back there no matter what, and I'm not going to be happy until that's done. That creates a lot of roadblocks and a lot of opportunity for emotional suffering. Okay, let's talk about the second comparison, comparing ourselves to others. Now, there are several different ways that I see this manifest. We look at others, oftentimes. And this is so interesting, because I wanted to give you comparing ourselves first, because even as we compare ourselves to others, it comes back and gets tangled into comparing ourselves to ourselves. So let me give you examples. When we are talking about comparison to others, I see people say I went through this in my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. But I shouldn't feel the way I'm feeling because she went through that. And that was so much worse. I feel this way. But she didn't even live. I have no right to feel the way I feel. So you see where we slide back into self comparison. We start judging ourselves again, instead of saying, I feel this way, allowing that feeling, exploring that feeling, exploring the thoughts that are creating that feeling and whether or not they're true and whether or not they serve you whether or not you can consciously choose something else that does serve you, we slipped down into this pit of self comparison and self judgment again. So this is one way by looking at others and telling ourselves we don't have the right to feel the way we do because somebody else had it worse. The second way is by looking at someone else who has been into something similar where we perceive as similar some kind of similar treatment surgery diagnosis, we see that they've been through something similar, and yet they seem to be doing so much better. Now we look at them and say, Well, hell, I don't get it. She didn't gain an ounce I gained 45 pounds. She doesn't have any joint pain, I can barely get out of my car if I sit still for 20 minutes. Now, where are we going? Again, we slip right back into self comparison, self judgment, beating ourselves up. We look at someone else and we say I should be as good as they are. I must be a failure. I must be doing something wrong. The universe is against me, life is out to get a cancer ruined my life. But the truth is that, in that thinking process, we are belittling ourselves. We are judging ourselves, and we're comparing ourselves to something else where we are not at and then telling ourselves, we're not good enough because of it. Now, what do you do when you find yourself in that situation? What do you do when you find yourself, not allowing yourself to feel be present with yourself, understand and love yourself, treat yourself with compassion, because you're telling yourself a story about another person. It's so important to realize that just as we recognize bio individuality when we speak of medicine, and nutrition, sleep exercise, we recognize that every human being is very different, when it comes to what works for their body, and what doesn't work for their body, how their body responds to food, how their body responds to medicine, sleep, anything at all, we are so different. So we share a lot of common things as human beings, but just little genetic snips, little variants, little changes in our family history, different exposures to toxins or lifestyles in our life, it changes us. So that we have to be very specific when we're treating a human body and human brain, to that person, to yourself, to get to know yourself. Now, we may look at other people with compassion and empathy. When we are comparing ourselves to others, we're saying, but I only had to do this. And she had to do that. And that's so much worse. That doesn't help that other person. Guilt does not help someone else's life be less painful. So what do you do in that moment? How do you process that without turning to self judgment and comparison, and I would offer this, you hold space for that person. Meaning, if you recognize that someone has had an experience that you judged to be worse than your own, then we send that person love. If you pray, you send that person prayers, you send that person good thoughts. If you know the person and you're capable of doing something to support them, by all means reach out and support them. But know that the way that the mind works by turning it back on you is not only not helpful to them, but it's not helpful to you. And so now we're hurting two people at the same time by saying I should just be grateful, I don't have it as bad as she does. Now everybody is screwed in that picture. So recognizing when you're doing that, and at the end here, I'm going to tie this up with a really interesting commonality between all of these comparisons. So keep that in mind. Then the second one of looking at someone and comparing where they are to where you are, and you're thinking you're not far along enough, is again, where I say we have to consider bio individuality, individuality. Every person is different emotionally, biologically, physically. And here's where that does not help you. You don't get to know your own body by judging it against somebody else's. If someone else is 45 years old, when they go through cancer, and you're 55 years old, you cannot possibly compare where they end up after treatment. If they have different allergies, they have different genetics, you cannot possibly compare the two. You don't know someone else's lifestyle. You don't know their family history. You don't know what genetic pool they came from, or what they've been exposed to from birth till the time when cancer manifested in their body. So it's completely unrealistic to look at someone else and say, I should be that way because they are that way. And what it does is it just takes away from you being present with yourself and saying, Oh, if I aspire to be like that, if I see that someone else is in a position that I find desirable. If I look at them and say I like what she has been able to achieve. I'd like to work towards that. Again we go From comparison to goal setting, right? I see her, let me borrow hope from this person. Right? I see that this person has gone through something similar to what I've been through. And I like where she's at now. So instead of beating myself up, comparing myself telling myself, I'm not as good as she is, I can't figure things out. We just look at them, and again, come from a place of compassion for ourselves. And for that person, by saying, I'm going to borrow hope from her inspiration. I love what I see there. And I want to work towards that, not become that. But I see that as a goal. What strategies can I implement? What steps can I take to move towards that meaning, as I move towards it, I get to know myself each step of the way, I get to understand what's working for me, what isn't working for me. And I get to modify my goal and my vision as I go along, and figure out where it is that I find myself content, happy, satisfied. And it's not going to probably be exactly where that other person was. But along that way of working towards what inspires you and what you borrow hope from, you get to know yourself better. And the more you know yourself, and the more you allow yourself to accept and love yourself, then the more satisfied you seem to get, and the less harsh you are in driving yourself to be something that perhaps is not realistic.
All right. Now we come to the third type of comparison, comparing yourself against your imagination. This imagined what should be the stories, so many stories? Where do they come from? Why are they even there? I don't know. We saw him on a movie. We saw it, read it in a book, right? We read some fictional account of a human being and the way they are, what they've achieved at their life at the same age we are in our life. And then we held on to that. And we said, Yes, I should be like that. That's where I want to be. That's what I should be doing. When in fact, it's not even real. It's a story of maybe even a combination of other people you've seen throughout your life. And you say, I want to be like that person. But that person isn't even a real person. And the way that we perceive and look and judge the story of where we should be, isn't even realistic in itself. We don't even give space for our own humanity in it. We want perfection. We want to be you know, the golden girl, the Goddess. And it just isn't real. But so many times we hold ourselves against this unrealistic expectation based on a fictional story or character in our mind, that has just been, I don't know, create it over years and years and years. And where do we end up? When we do that? We end up suffering. What do I mean by that? We have a fictional idea of where we should be, it's completely unrealistic. You don't even know anybody who's attained it, who's done it who lives this way. And yet, you've got a story about it. So you know, you're never gonna get there, because it's not real to begin with. So what do you do, you throw up your hands, and you say, I'm never going to be able to accomplish that, I'm never going to be able to do that. So I might as well not try. And we turn to our buffers or alcohol or overeating or under exercising our judging ourselves are telling ourselves that we're not good enough, we're not capable, we don't have the capacity, we don't have the time. So again, we end up back in self judgment. Again, and again, this is where comparison leads us over and over and over into self judgment. And when we are in self judgment, think about it right now, when I judge myself, when I have thoughts of how I am not good enough either to come in compared to me and compared to her and compared to some fictional idea of a human being. How do you feel when you have the thought, I should be better. I shouldn't be where I am. Now. I shouldn't feel the way I feel now. What emotion Do you experience? How do you feel that in your body? Notice it? Think about it, realize how it leads you to certain actions. And I guarantee you that those actions are going to be somehow over this right. overspending, overeating, over sleeping, over drinking, or under moving under feeling under expressing, right they're going to lead to these extreme behaviors because there's no love in it. There's no self love. There's no self compassion, there's no space for you to be exactly where you are now, exactly how you are now, which is exactly where you need to be when we can drop comparison. And we can just look at ourselves, and be honest with ourselves, and just say, this is where I'm at now. And this is all there is. This is how I think now. And that is all there is. Do I like it? Am I happy with it? Does it serve me? Does it pleases me? Does it fulfill me? If yes, fantastic. If no, cool, what would you like to do differently? How would you like to feel differently? Now, we can start building a strategy to move forward. And forward momentum is all we want little tiny steps forward, not perfection, not from zero to 100. We're not race cars, we don't have to. We don't have 5000 horsepower, small changes that come from small awarenesses that come from little tiny openings, we allow ourselves to know ourselves better, and love ourselves more. So life lesson number three, letting go of comparison. Noticing when comparison comes up, noticing when you're stuck in it, looking at where it leads you and looking at how it keeps you stuck. How much comparison stops you from moving forward, and how differently differently comparison feels in your body versus future visions of yourself and your goals. All right, my friends. I hope you find that helpful. I would love to hear from you. You know, you can always come to my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com and join me in the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership. Or you can even find me on Facebook and Instagram as the breast cancer recovery coach Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach and join my free Facebook group, the breast cancer recovery group all these ways. Reach out, support yourself and come together with women like me, people like me people like the people we find in the breast cancer recovery group who are looking for more supportive communities because we have enough pain and enough suffering and enough comparison as time that we let go of that stuff and let ourselves move forward to create lives that are better than before breast cancer. I'll talk to you next week. Until then, Please be good to yourself.