It's human nature to compare ourselves with others. But this can have a detrimental effect on you, your confidence and your self-esteem.
And as a business owner, this can also impact the success of your business.
So what can you do if comparisons are knocking your confidence? How can you stop comparing yourself to other therapists?
In this blog I will share:
- Why most comparisons aren't helpful
- A situation when they are
- And a practical exercise for you to boost your self-esteem
So take a look at why it's not usually helpful, and how to stop comparing yourself to other therapists
The urge to compare yourself with others isn't new. It's something I used to hear time and again in the counselling room. "Why does it seem so easy for others?" or "Why can't I be like them?".
Therapists Aren't Immune
Just like everyone else, therapists also face the challenge of 'comparisonitis'. From branding to client numbers, it's easy to feel like you're lagging behind.
Sometimes we see other therapists that appear to be more successful, get more clients, seem more popular, more confident and it can feel like a slap in the face when you’re struggling to get your practice established.
On a head level, you know you shouldn't compare. But on a heart level you're screaming 'why not me - what's wrong with me?!?'
So I wanted to share with you a few thoughts I have about comparisons, and something practical to do if you find comparisons are holding you back.
Because you have absolutely no idea about the person you are comparing yourself to!
The Reality Behind Comparisons
Here are some things that make a difference:
- Connections Matter: Maybe they have a supportive network spreading the word about their practice. A network of friends sharing your social media posts, putting up posters and talking about you makes a significant difference when getting known. For instance, having a friend who's a hairdresser means potentially reaching numerous clients.
- Origin Stories: Someone might get into counselling because of their professional background, giving them an established network right from the start.
- Resources: Not everyone starts on a level playing field. Some have the funds for a professional website, branding, or even a business coach. Maybe they have someone in their life that can help with websites etc
- Time & Knowledge: Perhaps they have more time to invest in their marketing than you. Or maybe they aren't new to marketing, and can use their knowledge to get off to a strong start.
- Personality: Maybe they are a very confident person and find promoting their practice fun. Or they might be an extrovert and love getting out there and networking. Let's not underestimate the difference this can make to getting known.
- Geographical Benefits: Location will have an impact too. If they live in a central position, they will appear higher up in searches on Google and directories. This made an impact on my business as I live 6 miles from the centre of Lincoln. With so many new counsellors setting up, I no longer appeared on the first page in searches.
- Demographics: The area you serve makes a difference. Affluent regions might have more people seeking private therapy.
You have absolutely no idea of their personal circumstances. So when you see them, you aren't comparing like for like. You are being unfair to yourself.
Comparisons get you nowhere. All that happens is you start feeling bad about yourself.
Can comparisons ever be helpful?
Yes! Seeing people being successful can be very inspiring and drive you forward. After all, if they can do it, you can. Allow yourself to be inspired when you see success.
But for many, comparisons don't help and ultimately cause resentment and bad feeling.
What to do instead
Comparisons strip us of our individuality, so I recommend really getting in touch with you, your skills and your qualities. here's how.
Finding your unique talents
Grab a pen and paper, or a blank doc and if you do nothing else, do this:
Make a list of:
- The hours of training you have had, from your introduction course until qualified. You learned something new in every one of those lessons
- The courses you’ve taken
- The time spent getting qualifications & certifications
- The CDP you've attended
- The books you’ve read
- The clients you’ve seen. You have learned something with every single client, every hour you've spent in their company. You have also learned something more about yourself, and the world in general
- The placement hours you worked. You will have learned so much, and that's something you can't learn from books.
- The workshops you’ve attended
- The supervision hours you’ve amassed. I used to learn so much in supervision, and often it was about myself.
- The YouTube videos you’ve watched
- The documentaries you've watched
- The discussions you’ve had on Facebook groups and in real life which have encourages a deeper understanding of ethics, and a knowledge of self
Don't forget your own life learning:
- The friendships, the relationships, the family politics you’ve experienced. The upsets, disappointments, frustrations, pain and anger. But also the love, joy and happiness.
- The previous jobs you've had, hobbies you've had, places you've lived, holidays. All the little nuances and expertise and experience that you bring to the table.
- And finally, any awards or successes you’ve had.
Write as much as you can. Fill the page.
When you've finished, allow yourself to see and appreciate all that knowledge and experience. That's yours, unique to you. No one else has this exact mix of knowledge, experience and passion.
This is what you bring to the table and because of this, you are in a position to help transform peoples lives AND run a successful practice.
What I've learned
I'm no stranger to the comparison trap. Sadly, it's all part of having a low self esteem. It's something I prefer not to talk about because it doesn't feel nice. I think because sometimes, jealousy can get a bit caught up in the mix too, and thats not deemed to be a very nice emotion.
But as with all emotions, they serve a purpose, and if we can acknowledge them and understand them, they can leave us feeling stronger
Now, I've learned to stay in my own lane. I don't look at what others are doing, and if i catch myself checking out what others are doing and comparing myself, it's a sign that my self esteem is low and I need to focus on my own needs for a while. Practice some robust self care
One form of comparison that I encourage
One comparison that can be useful is comparing yourself to a previous version of yourself.
For example, when you reflect on yourself a year ago and appreciate the progress you've made.
Or that 6 months ago, you were fearful of something - being visible for example, but now you can do it no problem.
This is why I highly recommend keeping track of all your successes, every tiny thing, every small step forward. Consistency is key, so small things done regularly add up.
If you’re no stranger to comparisons, I do hope this has given you some food for thought and that you make that list
And please, do yourself a favour and stop comparing yourself to other counsellors, it’ll only make you feel bad. So congratulate them on their success, and use it as motivation, because they have proved that success is possible.
Keep going, keep the faith - you can totally do this!
And remember, if you need more help, check out the Grow Your Private Practice membership and see how much easier marketing is with some direction and support