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Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Teachers or Homeschool Parents [episode 105]

Click below to hear how to stop comparing yourself:

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Teachers have a ton of responsibilities that pull them in a million different directions. Planning lessons, differentiation, grading papers, collaboration, classroom management, behavior management, IEPs, parent teacher conference, just to name a FEW.

It makes sense that you’re feeling overwhelmed. And you may be tired and exhausted… like, ALL the time. You may feel like you CANNOT do it all. But you know what? That is NOT the biggest mistake teachers make.

The biggest mistake that you could make- as a teacher trying to do it all- is comparing yourself to other teachers who seem to have it all together. That is what we are talking about on today’s podcast – how to stop comparing yourself to other teachers or homeschool parents.

Many of us compare ourselves to the teacher next door. Her classroom is always neat and tidy. Her students always seem to be well behaved. She is happy and cheerful all the time and maybe even leaves school at a decent hour. It always leaves you wondering- how does she do it all?! And why do I seem to be such a hot mess compared to her? We’re sharing tips on how to stop these thought patterns.

Did you know that there is psychology behind why we compare ourselves? Humans have evolved to compare themselves to others as a way to gauge their own abilities and social standing within their communities. This behavior likely evolved as a survival mechanism to assess one’s fitness for resources and protection within a group.

The social comparison theory suggests that people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves against others in order to reduce uncertainty and improve self-evaluation. This process can influence self-esteem, motivation, and emotional well-being.

Those are just two ideas we dive into in this episode which is full of methods and ideas to help you understand why we compare ourselves to others and how you can stop comparing yourself to other teachers or homeschool parents. Whether you’re a confident teacher or need a boost, you won’t want to miss this episode that is sure to help you understand and stop comparing yourself.

Key points about how to stop comparing yourself:

  • Why you should stop comparing yourself to other teachers and homeschool parents
  • How comparing yourself leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem
  • How you can reframe your mindset can help combat the comparison trap.
  • The urge to compare ourselves to others is a natural survival mechanism, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit our self-esteem or well-being
  • How social media amplifies the tendency to compare ourselves
  • The importance of focusing on your own strengths and achievements instead of comparing yourself to others

Resources mentioned:

Related episodes and blog posts:

Connect with Kelsey:

Read the transcript for episode 105, “Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Teachers or Homeschool Parents”:

Kelsey Sorenson [00:00:00]:

 

You are listening to episode 105 of wife, teacher, mommy, the podcast. Stop comparing yourself to other teachers and homeschool parents. If you find yourself falling into the comparison trap time and time again, let this episode serve as a reminder to you, and feel free to come back to it whenever you need. Welcome to wife teacher mommy, the podcast. I’m Kelsey Sorensen, a former elementary teacher and current homeschool mom. And even though I’ve been a resource creator since 2014, I’ve realized that printables alone aren’t all you need in order to thrive as a teacher or homeschool parent. That’s why I also created this show and got certified as a life coach to help You finally kick burnout to the curb and feel confident with whatever challenges come your way. With the right mindset strategies and new teaching You’re going to be well on your way to your best teacher life.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:01:33]:

 

Now let’s go. Okay. Today, we are talking about comparison, and I feel like this is a huge, huge topic in the teacher world, and I’m so excited to talk about it. Now one thing I also want to mention, if you missed it, we’ve been doing these mindset master classes throughout member. I intend to continue doing those as well. You probably heard about it in our new podcast outro and everything if you’ve been around on the podcast. If you haven’t, Then this is my telling you, if you feel like you need more support with your mindset, which comparing yourself is a huge part of doing it. Comparison comes from our thoughts.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:02:11]:

 

Right? If you need help reframing that mindset, that comparison mindset, or really anything, come to one of my free mindset master classes. I will put the link to that in the show notes, but also if you go to wife teacher mommy.com/masterclass, it’ll take you to where you can sign up for the next One. We would love to see you there. It’s free. You even get bonuses for signing up for showing up. I would love to see you there. Okay. But let’s dive Dive into this on the podcast today.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:02:37]:

 

I want you to be able to walk away from this episode with actionable steps that you can take to kind of stop the comparison trap in its tracks, so that’s what we’re talking about today. Now as you know, as a teacher, there are so many responsibilities that Might feel like they’re pulling you in lots of different directions. You’re planning lessons, differentiating, grading papers, collaboration, classroom management, Behavior management, IEPs, parent teacher conferences, just to name a few. Now and this is like circumstantial. You could list all these things that are on your list. And if you’re a homeschool parent, there’s a lot too. Like, you even need to figure out all your own curriculum and get your kids to all their activities and everything. So no matter what type of teacher you are here, you’ve got some things going on, and you will definitely have different thoughts and feelings about it depending on how you Approach the situation, how you’re thinking about it, all the things we talk about on the podcast.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:03:27]:

 

But a lot of times, teachers and parents that come to us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. They might feel tired and exhausted. They feel like they can’t do it all, but you know what? The biggest mistake I think that teachers make when, you know, doing all these things is because they are comparing themselves to others around them. Them. When you are trying to do all these things and you’re looking at other people and being like, they’re doing it so much better than me, maybe you’re comparing yourself to the teacher next door whose classroom It’s always neat and tidy. Her students always seem to be well behaved. She’s happy and cheerful all the time, and maybe she even leaves school at a decent hour and at the time you’re not. You might wonder, how does she do it all? And then why do I seem to be such a hot mess? Now you’re not alone in that thought is one thing I want you to realize.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:04:13]:

 

The most popular Quote, that to this day at wife teach your mommy we’ve ever posted on social media. We posted this a few years ago, and I know it was a while ago because it was even with our old Branding and fonts, which we changed those 2 years ago. So this was a while back, and yet it’s still, like, making the rounds to this day. And what it says is whatever you do, stop comparing yourself to other teachers. The truth is we are all a hot mess. Some of us just hide it better than others. And I created this quote image on a whim because I was thinking about how often I compare myself with others as well. And I’ve seen kind of similar quotes.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:04:47]:

 

I’m like, you know what? This is like I want a teacher geared one because this is like what we do as teachers. We, like, look at the other teachers and compare ourselves. Oftentimes, we can do that, And, personally, a lot of times, I think things about other people. Like, I think they have it all together, but I also think things that make me feel like I’m a hot mess. And sharing quotes on social media is a great way for me to connect with other educators too because we realize we have a lot in the same thoughts, a lot of the same feelings. And this quote in particular resonated with so many teachers when I posted it on my Facebook page, and we’ve never had a post liked, shared, and commented on as much as this post. It went more viral than anything we’ve experienced on our Facebook page yet. And I don’t say this to be braggy or anything because if you know me, you know I’m not that type of person.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:05:31]:

 

I’m simply telling you this because this alone shows how many teachers relate to the comparison chart. And, likely, even that teacher you’re comparing yourself to is doing the Same thing maybe even to you. Like, it’s wild. Now I wanna talk a little bit about the psychology behind why we compare ourselves and how it’s really, like, the evolutionary basis of comparison as a survival mechanism. We have always compared ourselves to others as a way to gauge our own abilities and social standings within our communities. And it’s really been to assess one’s fitness or for resources or protection within a group. Now one other theory that has been proposed by Leon Festinger, is called the social comparison theory, And this states that people evaluate themselves by comparing themselves to other people. It’s like what we use as a benchmark.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:06:25]:

 

Now social comparison theory suggests that people have an innate desire to evaluate themselves against others in order to reduce uncertainty and improve self evaluation. This process could include self esteem, motivation, and emotional well-being. And there are 2 types of social comparison that he talks about. The first is upward social comparison. So this is comparing ourselves to somebody who we perceive as better, And the second 1 is downward social comparison, which is when we compare ourselves to those who we perceive is worse off. Now each of these affect our self esteem differently. So upward social comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem because we, as individuals, focus on our shortcomings. Downward social comparison, on the other hand, can boost our self esteem and positive emotions as we think about our strengths and achievements in comparison to others who appear to be struggling.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:07:18]:

 

But we might kinda get on, like, a high horse and think we’re better than other people, so that one might not necessarily be helpful as well. Festinger study the theory of social comparison processes, which was back in 1954, laid the groundwork for the social comparison theory, Highlighting this role of comparison and influencing self evaluation and psychological well-being. So this really shows this has been happening for so long, But I feel like it’s happening even more nowadays with the impact of social media. Social media really amplifies the tendency to compare ourselves due to, like, Curated online personas and highlight reels. You might be comparing yourself to people you see on social media. You might even compare yourself to me As you listen to this podcast and watch the feed, which let me tell you, like, I don’t have it all together. Nobody does. But social media platforms often present carefully curated and idealized versions of people’s lives, and it really leads to unfair comparisons when we compare ourselves to that.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:08:14]:

 

It can trigger feelings of inadequacy and contribute to that comparison trap that we often find ourselves in. I wanna share another study. So research by Chua and Chang from 2016 Found that teenage girls who engage in a self presentation and peer comparison on social media experienced negative impacts on self esteem due to exposure to idealized images and lifestyles. And this doesn’t just happen to teenagers. It happens to us grown ups too as we compare ourself to Pinterest and Instagram and TikTok of the perfect classrooms or, like, all the perfect things and everything. And it happens in professional circles as well. You might find yourselves, you know, where comparison is prevalent, like where you see in faculty meetings or workshops or online forums where you just feel like other teachers within the profession, You’re comparing yourself, having interactions with colleagues in various settings. You might feel like, oh, man.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:09:03]:

 

They’re ahead of me in this or in that. They can fuel that tendency to compare yourself with others in terms of teaching methods, Outcome students are having professional achievements, ways that they’re teaching, maybe even how they dress, their outfits, anything really that you might find to compare yourself to. And teachers may even feel pressure to measure up to their colleagues achievements, inadvertently leading to feelings of those self doubt and inadequacy, And this can detract from your focus on personal growth and development. So you’re comparing yourself might actually lead you to there being a discrepancy between where you could be and where you are because you’re spending your energy focusing on what you lack versus what you have. And this is something we may talk about a lot. And even, like, in my recent episode, I recorded about vision boards where I shared about killer activating system. What we focus on grows. If we’re focusing on what we lack about how others are doing better than us, we’re gonna continue to see that.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:09:55]:

 

We’re gonna continue to focus on what we lack rather than, oh, I can do this. This is how we can grow. So that is where this comparison game really doesn’t help us. But we so often find ourselves doing this. We see another teacher who seems like they have it all together, but it’s important to remember that you are only seeing things through your perspective. They have struggles that you don’t know about. Somebody at school is probably looking at you and saying the exact same thing or saying that about something else. Like, maybe you’re jealous of Their, like, achievement like, they got teacher of the year or something, but maybe they’re looking at you and be like, man, her outfit is on point.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:10:29]:

 

Why can’t I ever show up like that? Like, there are just different things, and they don’t know your struggles. They look at you and they see, like, all these incredible things. When you’re comparing yourself to others, it causes you to focus on those negative things And the positive things about the other person, which is really damaging to your own self esteem. Now what I want you to do, like, Again, I’ve kinda painted this picture of what comparison does, shared some research, shared how it impacts, how we’re gonna continue, like, focusing on that, and We’re gonna continue to see that. We get in this comparison trap. It’s really like a cycle because, again, that’s what we’re focusing on, and so it grows. Right? But what I want you to do is think about what is this comparison. Like, if you were to look at our self coaching model, circumstances are neutral, then it’s our thoughts that drive our feelings, Create our actions and our results.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:11:13]:

 

Where does comparison fall in there? Or where does it start, I should say, because comparison can also be an action. But it starts with a thought, is where it starts. And that is where you think, she’s doing this better than me. That is where it starts. Or I can’t do it that well, or just different thoughts that you might have, which cause you to feel a certain way, maybe self conscious, maybe sad. There are so many different things that can make you feel depending on what you’re thinking. And then they cause you to do certain things, like, again, continuing the comparison, causing you to feel bad about yourself, causing you to not Think about ways that you are doing well, not thinking of things you’re grateful for, like lots of inactions and also actions of, like, ruminating in this and Just doing different things that you might do a different way if you weren’t feeling that way. So what I want you to do is notice when you’re comparing, and you can notice At any part, you can notice when you think certain things.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:12:06]:

 

You can notice when you feel a certain way, but, oh, wait. I’m feeling self conscious right now. Why is that? What am I thinking? What comparison trap am I in? Kind of Try to stop that trap in its tracks. Be like, okay. I notice it. I’m comparing myself. Or I realize, oh, I’m ruminating in this, or, oh, I am not Taking time to realize where I’m doing well, like, wherever you notice it, we need to work on because we’re always, like, naturally. Like, again, it’s like something that’s Hardwired into us.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:12:33]:

 

We’re going to compare at times. But what we want to try to do is decrease our recovery time. Notice that we are doing the comparison to noticing that we’re doing it. So the subconscious I am comparing myself to, oh, wait. I’m noticing. I’m doing it. What we want to do is decrease the amount of time it takes to get there, to be like, okay, to notice that you were doing it. Because as it starts, it might be, like, after the fact, like, later they’d be like, oh, yeah.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:12:55]:

 

I was totally comparing myself. Then it might be get to where you realize you’re doing things. You’re like, oh, yeah. Oh, wait. I do this when I’m comparing myself. Like, I realize I’m scrolling right now, and I’m comparing myself, or I realize I’m feeling so conscious, or, oh, I just noticed that thought of I’m not doing well enough. Wherever you catch it, we wanna decrease that amount of time that it takes for you to redirect. And then once you redirect, you can focus instead on your unique journey because you are an incredible, unique individual.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:13:23]:

 

And it’s also important to remember that, yes, that person you’re comparing to does have their strengths, but realizing that their Streights are they’re light. They’re you know, what is wonderful about them does not detract from what’s wonderful about you. Like, they can be wonderful, and you can be wonderful. It’s not either or. Like, I feel like this is very important to remember. So think you can still keep the gracious thoughts about them and be like, yeah. I think they’re amazing, but also, I’m amazing too. And maybe maybe they are better at this.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:13:53]:

 

Maybe I think that. Maybe I keep that thought. But also, what are my unique strengths in my unique journey? Because we all have different teaching styles, strengths, and different challenges, different weaknesses, but that is the beauty of life, that we are all different, and that’s how we can help and support each other. So that is where we just kinda think, what is my unique journey? How does mine differ from this person, and how is that okay? Just thinking about that and realizing that this is how it should be and accepting that that okay. And, also, if there’s something that they do that you want to be better at instead of using it as something to beat yourself up about, you can use it as inspiration. Like, maybe the teacher Down the hall is doing a great job at implementing the science of reading into her classroom, and you just don’t even know where to start with that. Maybe you could be, okay. Well, this is something I can do.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:14:42]:

 

This is something I can learn. You can even talk to them and, you know, build a relationship with them and learn how they do what they do. You can, You know, check out a book about it. I love Malia Halliwell’s book The Science of Reading in Action if that’s the thing you wanna learn about. But, I mean, again, it could be anything. That was just a random example Pulled out as I was talking. But just think about how instead of using that comparison against yourself, use it for yourself. Like, oh, if she can do it, I can too.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:15:08]:

 

So just realizing, again, that somebody’s strength doesn’t mean that you don’t have it too or that you can’t grow it as well. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have strengths, but that person does not have. So it’s really just accepting the beauty, the diversity in which teachers contribute positively to their students and to our communities together. Now I want you to notice if you, again, fall into this comparison trap. If you’re feeling burnout, imposter syndrome, and decreased self esteem, That is where we want to, again, validate ourselves. Like, I see why you’re feeling that way because we’re thinking this way, and that isn’t serving us and just have so much compassion. And by us, like, I really sometimes talk to myself because if I’m talking to another person, which is why I say it that way because It could just be helpful to be, like, hey. That is we’re thinking this right now, but maybe we could redirect that.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:15:54]:

 

Maybe we could think about this another way, but, But, also, I can see why you were doing that and, you know, have so much compassion for ourselves as if you’re, like, talking to yourself. You know? It really It’s so important to keep that self compassion, and that is really part of overcoming this comparison trap is having compassion for the part of you that is comparing because that part of you is always going to be there. And it’s just kind of again, seeing how we can decrease that part of us and increase the part that leaves room for ourselves to thrive and other people to thrive. Because, as the amazing Moira Rose says, when one of us shines, all of us shine. And I truly believe that. That just because somebody’s light shines doesn’t mean ours can’t shine too. So just remembering that, remembering our unique perspectives, having compassion for the part of ourselves that is in that comparison, but Also, you know, redirecting, sharing that love. And when you’re feeling love, you’re not feeling comparison.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:16:49]:

 

Right? When you’re feeling love for yourself, feeling love for the people you’re comparing yourself to. And, also, again, engaging in healthy comparison. So if there’s something that somebody is doing that you feel like you’re lacking, using that as inspiration. The next thing is to build a supportive teaching community. Now when you foster a sense of camaraderie among teachers instead of, like, unhealthy competition, when You put your strengths together, it can build the whole. And when you can think about what part of it is that you bring to the table, Then you no longer need to compare your weaknesses to their strengths because you’ll realize where your strengths lie and how you can all help each other. And this is where you can have mentorship, collaboration, and peer support together to help all of your students. So this can be on your teacher team.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:17:35]:

 

It can be other teachers in your building, whether or not they teach you the same grade level. Or if you’re a homeschool mom, it can again be like a homeschool co op or whatever. We would also love to be a community for you too. You can have communities you can have more than 1 community. You can have your physical community. Then you can also have a virtual community, like inside our free wife teacher mommies unite Facebook group, we have weekly discussion threads for this podcast. Or if you want even more support with me, like, wanna join Zoom calls with me each week, me are the incredible coaches on my team. Like, right now as you’re listening, I’m actually out of town, so I don’t have calls this week.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:18:04]:

 

But, again, there’s always coaching with somebody, and our other coaches are incredible. But, anyways, if you want that, like, you can have that support community too. You can always create that community that you want. And if it’s not in your building, you can find it in another way. So creating that community and forming those positive networks within your teacher communities will help you to feel less Self conscious will make you realize, oh, yeah, I have something to bring to the table. Like, helping others, serving others really helps us to overcome comparison because we’re seeing how we Can bring something to the table too. So I hope these steps have helped you learn some ways that we can kinda break free from the comparison trap. And, again, we’re never going to not compare each other again, but, again, our goal and the real way to sum up this episode is that we want to just decrease our reaction time from where we compare ourselves to when we notice we’re doing it and redirect ourselves.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:18:55]:

 

If we decrease the amount of time, that is when we can redirect and, you know, realize, again, when When one of us shines, all of us shine. And another thing I want you to remember, and this is a quote that I heard a while back that I just loved, it says, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. You literally can’t do everything. So if you’re comparing yourself in, like, every single aspect, man, this person’s better at this, this person’s better at that. Maybe they are, and maybe that’s okay because you literally can’t do everything, but neither can she. You may think that she is doing it all, but she’s not. She might be thinking the exact same thing about you. So what I want you to do is prioritize your life, what’s most important, and let everything else go.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:19:32]:

 

Take a deep breath. Decrease that time like, notice when you’re comparing yourself and redirect, but it’s okay to leave school before everything is done. It’s okay to have other priorities outside of school that come first, especially if that priority is your family. We want to do everything we can for our students, but at the end of the day, we don’t want it to come at the expense of our own health or our families. And certainly not to keep up with the teacher down the hall. So when you find yourself comparing yourself to another teacher, just notice it and say, nope. Stop it. Because remember, as we learned in that quote the very beginning of this episode, they’re a hot mess just like you.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:20:09]:

 

So head on over to the discussion thread inside the Wife Teaching Mommies Unite free Facebook group. We would love to discuss comparison with you. Let us know how you find yourself doing it, and let us know if you’re able to notice it sometime this week. That would be my challenge to you. Notice when you’re comparing yourself to somebody and see if you can decrease that reaction time and tell us about it. Would love to hear about it, and we will talk next week. Thank you for listening to Your mommy, the podcast. If you enjoyed our time together, be sure to hit subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

 

Kelsey Sorenson [00:20:46]:

 

And if you’re ready to take the next step, I’d love for you to join Meet face to face of my next free virtual mindset masterclass. In this masterclass, I’ll share my full story of how it Born by teacher overwhelm and anxiety into balance, authenticity, and a true understanding of myself. And the best news, It’ll work for you too. I’ll break down my 5 step framework, share inspiring stories that will help shift your mindset, and you’ll even get to see A life coaching in action. You’ll get a free resource and a special opportunity just for joining us, and you won’t be able to get this anywhere else. Did I mention this masterclass is free? You’ve got nothing to lose. All you need to do is sign up, add it to your calendar, and commit to showing up live. Go to white teach mommy.com/masterclass to sign up or head to the link in the show notes.

Kelsey Sorenson [00:21:35]:

I will see you at the masterclass.

More about Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast

Being an educator is beyond a full-time job. Whether you’re a teacher or a homeschool parent, the everyday to-do list is endless. Between lesson planning, grading, meetings, and actually teaching, it probably feels impossible to show up for your students without dropping the ball in other areas of your life.

Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast is the show that will bring you the teacher tips, practical strategies, and inspiration that you need to relieve the stress and overwhelm of your day-to-day. Your host, Kelsey Sorenson, is a former teacher and substitute turned homeschool mom. Tune in weekly to hear Kelsey and her guests cheer you on and help you thrive as a wife, teacher, and mommy. Because with a little support and community, you can do it all. For access to every single Wife Teacher Mommy resource, join the club at www.wifeteachermommy.com/club.

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Hey there, new teacher bestie! I’m Kelsey, and I created Wife Teacher Mommy just for YOU! I blog about teaching and create elementary school and homeschooling resources to make your life easier. Be sure to sign up for my FREE email newsletter!

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