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Conveying Unique Competencies and Passions

Conveying Career Competencies and Passions

Written by Hannah Chism

"Conveying Career Competencies and Passions" has been published on The Marketing Alliance's website. On January 14, 2021 @ 1 PM MST we, Peripateo Consulting and The Marketing Alliance, are facilitating a webinar, where I discuss how to both identify and convey your strengths and skills to increase your employment opportunities.


"Conveying Career Competencies and Passions" is Part 2 to "Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions." This article unfolds how you convey your strengths and passions in order to secure a satisfying, congruent career.

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Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions

Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions

Written by Hannah Chism


What is the importance of knowing who we are? And how does it relate to your career?

Most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. Thus, this drives a central need for having a career one actually enjoys. Part of that enjoyment involves competency, as most people are success-oriented and derive gratification from self-efficacy. The other part of enjoying one’s career is passion or interest, as this fosters investment. For many, it seems one or the other is generally the situation either due to life circumstances (albeit education, physical or mental limitations, resources, life roles, etc.), limited self-awareness, low motivation, fear or intimidation, or other inhibiting factors. Often the default is to secure a job one is skilled at, rather than one that is enjoyable, as both may feel/be unattainable. When this occurs, it is crucial to create space for one’s passions and interests outside of one’s occupation (see Self-Care as An Essential Practice).

Thus, it is something to be celebrated when one is able to marry competency with passion in a job, as it is a rare occasion to find both. The most rewarding part of being a career coach and career counselor is helping individuals identify careers that encompass both their passions and competencies. In order to secure a career that embodies one’s strengths and passions requires two primary components: 1) identification of these areas 2) ability to convey one’s transferrable skills, competency, and investment. This article discusses the first component.

So, how do we figure out who the heck we are, as it relates to our careers?

In order to figure out who we are, involves reflecting on one’s identity. This can feel like a massive and overwhelming undertaking, as there is a daunting amount of data (contact a career coach or career counselor for assistance). One’s identity primarily encompasses values, passions, beliefs, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality. For the sake of consistent language, I have categorized these components into two groupings. The first grouping is competency, which consists of skills, strengths, and background experiences. The second grouping is passion, which includes intrinsic motivation, interest, values, and beliefs. One must also consider personality, which can best be understood through reflecting on the roles one plays in various environments. This is important data for determining the type of company culture you would like to join. In order to gain self-awareness within each of these areas one must create space for reflection and take inventory of their life.

Process of Identification

There are several ways of acquiring data about who you are as it relates to your career. One avenue is through formal assessments, albeit personality, skills, or interest inventories. With formal assessments it is important to evaluate their reliability (consistency across time*), validity (accuracy of measurement tool*), and cultural relevance. Moreover, it is imperative to reflect on the results and determine if they feel congruent.

Another route of gathering relevant career data is through informal assessments, such as interviews, lists, or journaling. Again, the purpose of this process is to gather data about your areas of competency and passion. As aforementioned, competency involves strengths, skills, and background experience, while passion includes intrinsic motivation, interest, values, and beliefs. Two strategies for collecting such information can be accomplished through a reflective inventory or a career narrative.

Reflective Inventory

The inventory involves a close reflection of one’s life by asking oneself a series of questions. Some of these questions might include:

Passions, interests, values, and beliefs. Where do you spend your time? What breaks your heart most? When do you feel most alive?

Strengths. What have previous/current supervisors said about you? What have others said they like about you?

Background experiences. Which positive and negative experiences have stood out to you? What have you enjoyed in your previous jobs? What did you dislike in your previous jobs?

Skill sets. What skills have you developed in your professional experience? Which skills are transferrable from personal experiences?

Personality. What role do I play in the office? What role do I play at home? What role do I play in my friend group? Describe yourself in three words.

Career Narrative

A career narrative highlights your career goals by reflecting on how your experiences have informed your career aspirations. The practice of creating a career narrative can inform your career quest. Here is a link with information about creating a narrative. This narrative can be as long or short as it needs to be.

An Abbreviated Career Narrative While I do not often like to discuss myself nor my personal experiences professionally (much less in a blog), it feels pertinent for this article. Thus, below is my career narrative:

I am skilled at working with people. My strengths lie in intentional presence with others and asking insightful questions. I am passionate about people’s stories and communicating verbally and nonverbally that each life matters. I love working with repairing individuals’ stories, as each of us have our bruises. These bruises often impact our present life and inhibit us from living wholeheartedly. My personal background has given me the ability to empathize well with others. I received professional training in counseling in order to become a skilled counselor. I have a professional background in human resources, which has prepared me to guide others well in the career process. I have always played the role in social settings of being an insightful, intentional question-asker and encourager. I embody being a coach and therapist.

I am one of the fortunate few who has found a career that I am both passionate and competent at. I would love to walk alongside you in finding the same.

The End Goal

The point of these exercises is to identify your unique competencies and passions as they relate to your career. The next step involves conveying these areas in order to secure a job that embodies your passions and competencies. As you must know yourself in order to ‘sell’ yourself.

Finding Support Through the Process

Career decisions are often overwhelming. The process of reflecting on one’s competencies and passions is exhausting. It can be daunting to embark on an authentic reflective process as it relates to your career and is often set aside due to competing priorities and limited margin. However, a dissatisfying career greatly impacts one’s mental health and relationships; thus, increasing the importance of finding a satisfying, congruent career. Moreover, often when one does reflect on questions similar to the ones mentioned in the reflective inventory section or drafts a career narrative it can stir unresolved wounds or additional questions. If this occurs, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a mental health professional to help you process through such emotions or questions. A career coach or career counselor can be helpful at gathering and guiding important data and channeling it into a summative, practical outcome with tangible career options.


*Houser, R. A. (2015). Counseling and educational research: Evaluation and Application, 3rd

A Satisfying and Congruent Career


Written by Hannah Chism

Demystifying the Idea of a Perfect Career

Have you ever gotten really excited about something (e.g.: upcoming trip, date, or event), only to find yourself disappointed by the actual outcome? Is the anticipation better than the reality? This is exactly how it is with careers. It seems we can be prone to the illusion that ‘perfect’ exists in the career world.

For example, if one desires to achieve complete autonomy and steps into entrepreneurship by launching their own business… Then yes, they may gain autonomy, however, they may lose camaraderie, gain administrative tasks, and exponentially increase fiscal responsibility. This may result in increased anxiety and isolation. Thus, it is important to assess the rewards versus the losses and weigh them accordingly. Do the downsides of one’s frustration of being managed by another outweigh one’s sense of isolation and anxiety?

The reality is there is no such thing as a perfect career or job, as there will be weaknesses or downsides to any job. When one has the mindset of searching for the perfect job, this can result in a sense of restlessness occupationally, where one may jump from job to job. This can leave a feeling of confusion, frustration, and discouragement. Thus, it is important to measure one’s expectations and find the best option available. Reality or perspective involves establishing a set of priorities and getting past the illusion that a perfect career exists. Instead one’s expectations can be measured by finding a congruent career.

Congruence Without Compromise

In order to secure a satisfying career, it must be a congruent one. This means a career that does not compromise one’s values, beliefs, passions, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality. It means finding one that aligns with these areas to the extent possible. The most important part of determining best career fit is self-awareness. One must have insight into their values, beliefs, passions, interests, experiences, strengths, skills, and personality, in order to determine what type of career suits them best (see "Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions"). Within these areas, it is important to decide which hold the greatest importance and how this impacts one’s overall quality of life. Often one’s quality of life is determined by one’s lifestyle. One’s lifestyle is determined by one’s set of values. These values may shift in each season of life; thus, it is important to pay attention to what each season beckons for and adapt accordingly.

Adapting to Priorities

One must be adaptive to life’s ever-changing priorities. Most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. This is why it is important to consider both personal and professional ramifications when undergoing career exploration. In one season, it may make the most sense to work 60-hour weeks as you are establishing yourself as a professional. But that may only last while you are single or without kids. The next season, could require working a normal 40-hour week and setting aside climbing the ladder for a short time in order to take care of a sick family member or a newborn. Each season calls for something different and sometimes our priorities must shift and adapt. This is why it is crucial to identify the present season’s priorities and have a willingness to be flexible.

Within this, know that there is more to you than your career. There is more to life than a career. Moreover, certain seasons call for sacrificing relationships at the expense of one’s career, while others call for the reverse. Both take a certain amount of courage and sacrifice. Sometimes the greatest courage one can demonstrate is an honest reflection on whether one is living congruently with one’s values, beliefs, and self.

Lifestyle Considerations

There are various facets of a job that contribute to one’s lifestyle, thus impacting one’s overall quality of life. As aforementioned, these components may hold various weights in different seasons of life. Some of these aspects include: finances, flexibility, health benefits, paid time off, schedule (evening/day/weekends), geographic location, clock-in/clock-out, growth potential, or company culture. One’s personality should also be factored into the equation; however, this primarily impacts one’s consideration of company culture in job seeking. The weight given to each of these components is often dictated by one’s family structure, roles, and set of priorities.

Career Considerations

There are various motivating factors when selecting a career, aside from lifestyle considerations. Here are two primary motivating factors in career selection. The first is competency, which includes one’s strengths, skills, and background experiences. The second is passion, which includes intrinsic motivation, values, beliefs, and interests. Each person assigns a different value to each of these motivating factors; thus, it is important to assess your primary motivations in selecting a career.

Strategies for Identifying Priorities

So how does one go about establishing a set of priorities in their career quest? First, one must determine their priorities. This can be accomplished by reflecting on how one spends one’s time (actual) versus how one would like to spend their time (hoped for). Creating a pie chart is often a nice visual representation of this. Next, create a list or mind-map these priorities. Second, one must assign a weight to each priority. This can be accomplished by simply rank ordering each category to determine its priority level. Another option is to create a pie chart of one’s priorities in life and assign a certain percentage to each area. Creating a spreadsheet is also a viable option.


Again, most individuals spend more waking hours working than anything else. One’s career touches everything. Extensive stress at work, a highly demanding job, or job dissatisfaction greatly impacts one’s mental health and relationships. For example, anxiety and depression can arise from a dissatisfying or stressful job. This is why one’s career cannot be everything. If it is, then one will not be a whole, well-rounded person. It is imperative to incorporate elements of self-care into one’s daily life. Self-care can also be an avenue of incorporating the deficit areas of one’s career (e.g.: if one’s career aligns with competency yet lacks alignment with passions or interests).

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

This has been a difficult article to construct as it nearly feels like a cynical perspective. It shakes off beautiful innocence. The question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” starts as soon as we are born (e.g.: parents wondering what their child will be when they grow up, children playing with certain toys, etc..). And, as the years go by the answer becomes more and more pragmatic based on societal roles (see Linda Gottfredson’s work), expectations, and other inhibiting factors. So, in an effort to not undo everything I have written above, I implore this: Yet do not forget to DREAM. Part of securing a satisfying, congruent career, involves dreaming. The pragmatic work occurs after the dreaming. The nuts and bolts get worked out after we have dreamed and takes shape into the best suited career.

Do Not Be Afraid of Shifting Gears

Intentionally changing jobs, may be an avenue for acquiring intel… It is just as important to know what we do not want versus what we desire. This often requires experiencing what we do not enjoy first. The key is to not chase something illusive. Do not let the shame of changing jobs, hold you back from seeking a congruent career. Though embarrassment may be had, do not let this rule your career quest. Seek and search for a satisfying, congruent career not a perfect one.


My conceptual understanding of job and career theory has primarily been derived from theorists/theories mentioned in the text below. These theorists include John Holland (person-environment), Duane Brown (Values Based), Linda Gottfredson (Circumscription and Compromise), Frank Parsons (Trait N Factor), and Donald Super (Career Development Theory).
Niles, S., & Harriw-Bowlsbey, J. (2017). Career Development Interventions, 5th Ed. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Developing a Hiring Criteria

It is pertinent to develop a set of criteria for hiring personnel. Within this, it is important to have this system in place prior to even posting the vacancy. This safeguards you as a company by putting a framework in place to minimize bias by creating a more equitable hiring process. Once a set of criteria has been created, it is then important to consider how much weight to give each criterion.


Here are some ideas for criterion:

  • Cultural fit (e.g.: how will this individual mesh with the rest of the team?)
  • Performance fit
  • Diversification (e.g.: seeking to diversify one’s teams through skills, personality, background, etc.)
  • Background/experience
  • Technical Skills
  • Attitude
  • Adaptability
  • Personality
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Collaboration
  • Communication skills
  • Integrity
  • Investment
  • Trustworthiness


It is important for your organization to consider the following questions when determining human capital vacancies:

By what criteria does your organization gage if a potential candidate is the appropriate fit?

How much weight do you give each criterion?

What systems do you have in place for making hiring decisions?

Self-Care as an Essential Practice

Learning the Selflessness of Self-Care

Written by Hannah Chism


“Self-Care” is a buzz word within our culture. But what does it really mean anyway? The title in and of itself connotes a sense of individualism. The term often holds a negative stigma, as it is frequently correlated to other similar sounding words, such as, “self-centered” or “selfish.” However, self-care enables us to be more selfless. By taking care of oneself, one is able to give back to others. By stepping away and recharging one’s battery, one is able to steward the resources and relationships one has been entrusted with. Consider it this way, if all we do is work harder and harder, then we become flatter, hardened, bitter, burnt out, and moody individuals. Whereas, if we incorporate healthy doses of self-care into the menu, we become a little lighter and more refreshing to be around. Part of being a well-rounded individual is knowing when to step away and recharge.


            Self-care does not just happen or appear out of thin air. Self-care requires intentionality. So often we are caught up in the busyness and minutiae of life. It becomes increasingly more difficult to step away. However, for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones, we must find a balance between hard-work and self-care. The reality is this will look different for everyone. Within this, some do not find self-care difficult, as they overindulge in this practice and find it difficult to consider others. While others turn their nose up at the concept of self-care as they associate it with frivolous and self-centered living. Again, there is a balance between the two.


In order to strike that balance, one must plan times to recharge and recenter. I know, some gawk at the irony and idea of planning self-care as it sounds counter-intuitive; those individuals likely do not struggle with incorporating self-care into their lives as it is interwoven into the fabric of their lifestyle. However, most of us, must intentionally carve out time to rejuvenate our souls.


As has been made evident thus far, self-care does not look the same for everyone. As such, self-care requires knowing what personal practices are life-giving and rejuvenating. This requires trial and error, self-awareness, and reflective processing. One must discover what feeds one’s soul. Within this, activities that are life-giving may change season to season, as we are dynamic people. It is frustrating and discouraging when one’s previous forms of adored activities, no longer hold that place in their hearts. But just as life circumstances change, so do we. Thus, if jogging was a favorite past-time activity when one was younger yet loses its luster as one ages due to physical limitations, margin in one’s schedule, or other life circumstances, this can be disorienting and depleting on so many levels. Thus, it is necessary to re-access and essential to recalibrate in order to find a new outlet that refreshes one’s soul.


Self-care requires planning and self-awareness. There are many ways to approach incorporating self-care into your lifestyle; your approach depends on your personality.

  • Discover the actual practices that feed your soul.
    • If the practice of self-care is completely new to you and you have no idea what is rejuvenating, then:
      • Google “self-care activities” (visit this link for some ideas).
      • Select activities that sound appealing.
      • Practice these ideas and see what fits!
  • Compile all of the congruent self-care practices into a list, journal, mind-map (watch this video to find out more), menu, or spreadsheet.
  • Put an estimated duration next to each activity (e.g.: running = 1 hour; 5 minutes to get changed, 5-minute drive to path, 45 minutes running, and 5-minute drive home).
    • This step is essential. Due to busy schedules, longer self-care activities may not fit into one’s daily practices; thus, it is important to have options that require less time. A few examples of smaller self-care practices include: drinking a cup of coffee, eating a nutritious meal, a moment of sunshine, or brushing one’s teeth. These small acts can make a huge difference in one’s day – offering one a chance to feel human again and less stifled or stagnant.
  • The next, and likely the most important step, is to create a self-care plan. This plan is the intentional part of incorporating self-care practices into one’s lifestyle; this plan serves as a measure of accountability in striking a balance in one’s life. This plan must be personal, measurable, and attainable (visit this link for information on developing SMART goals).
    • Create a table.
      • The headers in the columns titled as follows: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.
      • Reflect on the list, menu, spreadsheet, etc. that you created in step 2.
        • Consider how frequently you need each activity in your life. For example, if you are the healthiest version of yourself when you journal daily; this likely needs to be included in your “daily” column. However, if driving to the mountains is an activity that you only need a few times a year, then this may be a “quarterly” activity.
      • Input each self-care activity into the appropriate column, based on the amount you need/desire the activity in your lifestyle.
      • Example:
Daily Weekly Monthly Quarterly Annually
Coffee Yoga Date night Weekend mountain trip Christmas at home
Sunshine Dining out Happy hour w/girlfriends Cook dinner for friends Attend a hockey game
Walk Movie Bike ride Day of solitude Weeklong vacation

If you desire to be extra detailed, you could add a column under each frequency of duration (e.g.: 10 minutes) and/or quantity (e.g.: x2).

  • Accountability
    • It may be necessary to put these activities into your calendar with reminders for each.
    • If you are a parent or partner, you may also need to coordinate childcare/domestic responsibilities in order to integrate self-care practices into your family’s lifestyle. This will likely require sacrifice in some areas, which can often be the make it or break it point of integrating self-care practices. However, it is important to keep in mind that the outcome likely outweighs the cost – that you are likely the best version of yourself when you are recharged rather than burnt out. This means that you cannot be perfect at everything, but that you can be more well-rounded. Within this, you may find that you are more intentional and present in relationships and work, when you are practicing the balance between hard work and self-care; thus, making you a more productive individual.
    • Share your self-care plan with a close friend and invite them to keep you accountable in a way that feels supportive for you.

If you care for those around you, want to excel in your career, and desire to live a more well-rounded life, then integrate self-care into your lifestyle. You will be a more productive member of society and more personable individual. You will be happier too! Self-care is an excellent way to manage stress and anxiety by increasing coping skills. It can also decrease one’s depressive feelings, by providing hope, perspective, and enjoyment! While the sacrifices may be difficult initially, it will be worth it in the end. This is why it is so important to have a menu of self-care practices to choose from that range from 5 minutes to 60 minutes to week-long ventures. Refueling your soul, refuels the souls of others! This life is far too short and difficult to not intentionally take moments to step away and recenter.

Tips for Virtual Interviews

The Season of Virtual Interviews

COVID-19 Pandemic


Anticipating an upcoming virtual interview? Check out this article for virtual interviewing tips. I especially appreciate the recommendation to have a bullet-pointed list of reminders on your screen/closeby, as this is not something we generally get the liberty of during in-person interviews.

Chosen: Acceptable As Is





There is something profoundly important about knowing we are chosen and acceptable just as we are. But how many of us actually believe we are chosen and acceptable as we are? Imagine the strength our relationships and society would hold if we each held these beliefs? This would remove insecurity, jealousy, low self-esteem, arrogance, and so forth. Instead of constantly trying to prove ourselves as worthy, we would be able to relax into our relationships and trust that we are loved and sufficient just as we are. If we hold the belief that we are chosen, then our relationships are healthy, secure and lasting.

Some fortunate individuals in our society carry themselves and conduct their affairs with this knowledge and core belief. Others, struggle to believe they are chosen and acceptable just as they are. For many, this likely started at an early age based on the type of parenting one received, circumstances within one’s childhood home, peer relationships, or otherwise. For some, it may have arisen later in life from a ruptured relationship. Either explicitly or implicitly, a message was internalized by these individuals that they are insufficient, unworthy to be loved, and unacceptable as they are. This message unfortunately took root in their hearts and colors/taints/overshadows every relationship, interaction, accomplishment, failure, decision, and so forth in their life; rendering them incapable of truly relaxing and settling into relationships and life. In therapy, we call this message a “cognitive distortion” or “distorted belief.” To learn more about this concept, click on this LINK.



If you have even one person in your life, then you are chosen. This means we are not alone. It means that someone sees us, knows us, and chooses us. While this may all be the reality, many of us struggle to walk confidently in it; yet it is something that we should each strive towards believing as our lives will be that much richer and fuller. If we walk with the belief that we are indeed chosen, then our capacity to love others expands; thus, enabling us to give of ourselves more freely and authentically engage in life.



It means that you are just who you need to be, exactly as you are in this moment. Yes, you are likely flawed and imperfect – just as we all are! But you are still acceptable as you are in spite of your shortcomings. Holding the belief that we are acceptable as we are also entails accepting our shortcomings! Being acceptable as we are, does not negate our striving for growth as individuals.

There is no other mold for you to fit, as you are a unique individual with a unique background, personality, and set of values and beliefs. This means that a certain body weight, title, connection, size home, etc. will not make you any more acceptable. Yes, it may change your ‘status,’ and mask parts of yourself that you are ashamed of, but it does not truly change your core. Believing that we are acceptable just as we are right now, enables us to love others more fully and live a more congruent life.



You are chosen and acceptable as you are. You are loved. This is the take-home message for today. Period. From the children’s book Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You written by Nancy Tillman, “You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.” Let those words sink into your heart today. Meditate on them when you are feeling otherwise. See how it transforms your perspective of self and others.



They can be changed! You are not stuck with faulty beliefs/lies/cognitive distortions (whichever language rings most true for you) forever. Whatever negative messages you may have internalized up to this point in your life, can be altered! If this is something you battle, I highly recommend finding a therapist you trust who can walk through this life-altering process. For some, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) may be sufficient. For others, who have deeply rooted negative beliefs, perhaps due to trauma or attachment wounds, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) or Ego State Therapy may be more appropriate. While I incorporate each of these types of modalities into my approach with clients and would be honored to work with you, I encourage you to find the right therapist for you, which may or may not be me! I am happy to discuss these concepts with you further through a free CONSULTATION!



Staff, GoodTherapy. “20 Cognitive Distortions and How They Affect Your Life.” Therapy Blog, 11 July 2019,

*Tillman, Nancy. Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You. Feiwel and Friends, 2010.

Cover Letter Advice

A Simple Strategy to Tailor Your Cover Letter

By Hannah Chism

Demonstrate your investment in the company’s mission and vision, by either paraphrasing or citing the company’s mission statement in your closing paragraph of how you will personally contribute to their mission.


*For additional cover letter insights, contact me today to schedule a free consultation!

Fertility Treatment

Article from Psychotherapy Networker

Excellent interview with Lori Gottlieb regarding undergoing fertility treatment. She discusses the "ambiguous" loss individuals/partners undergo while battling infertility. Moreover, she shares her personal experience of fertility treatment as a single woman.

You can read the article by accessing the following link:

As a psychotherapist, I specialize in reproductive/fertility counseling. If you know of someone in a similar spot, I would love to connect with them! Undergoing infertility and fertility treatment can be a lonely process that accentuates our insecurities and elicits mourning.

The Poison of Comparison

The Importance of Knowing Our Core Values, Beliefs, and Goals

Written by Hannah Chism

August 11, 2020



I was having a discussion the other day with a family member about the poison of comparison. Our culture largely operates driven by comparison and competition. While this is essential for the capitalistic economy of the United States, how does this impact each of us? It often creates anxiety, low self-esteem, poor work/life balance, mistrust, and isolation.

We are constantly bombarded by messages of ‘what’s best.’ These messages come via social media, especially Facebook, advertisements, grocery stores, work, conversations, and so on. It is difficult to escape or ignore opinions of ‘what’s best.’ But who really decides ‘what’s best?’ Who has the authority in our personal lives to dictate what is best for each of our unique life circumstances? The reality is that you are the only person who can decide what is best for your unique life circumstances, personality, background, and so forth. While for some, the best decision may be sending their kids to school, for others, it may be best to homeschool. The reality is there is no absolute right or wrong way to live or do things (unless morality is brought into the conversation…). We make decisions in the moment based on the resources and information available to us.


What would life look like if we chose what is best for each of us individually (or collectively, depending on your cultural orientation) with each decision we make? If we were able to silence the opinions of others and the ‘but so and so is doing this…?’ If we were able to step away from the mentality of ‘keeping up with the Jones’?’ What would happen to our culture if we opened our minds to being more accepting to differences of opinions and lifestyles? This season of life, between the pandemic of COVID-19 and social justice movements, would likely be much lighter if we could each respect what others are doing. Now, to respect others, does not mean you have to agree with their choices. However, it does require loosening the reigns of judgment and moving towards acceptance of differences. Imagine how much stronger our culture would be if we empowered each other by esteeming one another in spite of disagreeing others’ choices? What would it look like to stand together in spite of a difference of opinion?


What do we lose when we compare? A sense of individuality. A sense of our unique selves. Compromising our core beliefs. Inauthenticity. The feeling of being stifled. A disconnected self. Inauthentic relationships. Discontentment and dissatisfaction. A sense of being lost and confused. The erosion of self. Time. Self-confidence. Most distinctly, comparison poisons and erodes our sense of self. Meaning, we lose our unique identities, purposes, goals, values, and motivations. We can very easily get caught up in the rat race of life, causing us to become disillusioned and disoriented. We slip into following what others are doing or trying to compete with others’ agendas or accomplishments. We lose sight of our core values, beliefs, and goals.


It is critical that we each gain confidence in our personal decisions. If not, we sacrifice what is ultimately best for ourselves/families. We also can become bitter and hardened. So, how to block out the noise of others’ opinions and choices? How do we separate what’s best for others from what is essential for us? This is where knowing your core values, beliefs, goals, and identity comes into play.


Being aware of what makes you tick and how your unique self/family operates best is the key here. Abiding in what you know and what feels absolutely true and congruent with your soul. Being aware of the language you are using in making decisions. Is there a “should” in there? Sometimes obligation is important because it is not all about us. However, how often is this language creeping in? Also, being aware of your motivations in decisions. Is your motivation for increased status? Is it so you are not the only ones who did not attend the party? Again, go back to your core values and beliefs.


Be honest with yourself of what truly feels congruent for you and your family. Sometimes this means sacrificing status or pride or something else. However, will you be able to rest better at night knowing you chose what was authentic to your true self? Will you be a happier person because of it? It offers more breathing room and likely adds more years onto your life (not scientifically proven!).  If we are able to walk in this confidence, it can be contagious. It extends the freedom others to also choose what is best for their family.


What is driving your comparison with others?

  • Is it social media?
  • Is it magazines?
  • Is it comparing your body image to others?
  • Is it weighing yourself constantly? Comparison can occur not only in the company of others, but can also be found in comparing oneself to a disillusioned/idealistic self… E.g.: “If only I weighed - - -, then I would be content.” When the reality is you have never been that weight or it was in your teenage years.
  • Is it unhealthy conversations with your friends? Sometimes in the company of friends or family there are certain topics that trigger insecurities in us.
  • Is it comparing your personality with that of another? If only I were funny like them… Reflect on what your strengths may be in the context of relationships. You may not be the funniest person, but are you thoughtful?
  • Is it comparing the nature of your relationship with one of your parents to how your siblings interact with that same parent? Where you desire the kind of connection they appear to have yet your personality does not afford such connection? A perspective check may be necessary to realize the reality of the dynamics occurring in your relationships. This will likely need to be followed by an attitude shift in how you respond to others.

There are several layers of comparison and surprising ways it can creep into our lives and steal our joy, seemingly without our awareness. Are there areas in your life that you can avoid in order to gain confidence in your sense of self? Bottom line, it is important to take an inventory of the sources in your life that are causing negative beliefs about your sense of self and driving incongruent choices in your life.


Now, as I mentioned previously, our economy is driven by comparison and competition. Without it, our country would not be as economically viable as it presently is. Thus, our workplaces are often driven by performance and production; which frequently involves comparison and competition. We innately seek to survive, and part of survival is contingent on our skills, abilities, knowledge, and so forth. Thus, drive, work ethic, and striving for excellence are essential for success in the workplace. However, there is a fine line between striving for excellence and compromising our core beliefs, values, and goals. Thus, be cognizant of what is fueling your soul versus poisoning your sense of self.

Be realistic about your gifts and personality, rather than assigning someone else’s gifts and personality to your life. The reality is you have been gifted with a unique set of gifts, skills, and knowledge. This requires you to stay within your lane of achievable and attainable goals based on who you truly are. Thus, strive, but strive within realistic goals; otherwise, you will become exhausted by never reaching an idealistic set of goals.


A word of caution: choosing what’s best for you personally can sometimes feel lonely. Sometimes when we deter from the norm, it can feel isolating.

Thus, it is important to ask yourself what truly feels congruent? Then, standing by that conviction. It is also important to distinguish between compromise and congruence. There may be times we compromise for the sake of others because we love them. However, if our choices are incongruent with our core beliefs, then the sacrifice may be too great.

This also highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with relationships that are uplifting and supportive of your choices. Does your support system empower and encourage you to live your best and most wholehearted life? A necessary shift in minimizing the poison of comparison from your life may be developing a stronger community who encourages the best kind of growth in you.


Another word of caution: making congruent choices can result in you questioning yourself or others questioning you. Neither is necessarily a bad thing, as we each need an accountability system. However, we make decisions in the moment based on the resources and information available to us. Sometimes we must shake off the anxiety, shame, or million “what if’s?” that come after the decision. Again, this is where the importance of knowing your core values, beliefs, and goals becomes crucial – it serves as part of your accountability system of congruent living. Be open to the feedback of others, but do not let it rule how you conduct your life. Sometimes those other voices must be silenced in order for you to live wholeheartedly.

  • Comparison poisons and erodes our sense of self
  • If we lose sight of our core values, beliefs, and goals we can become disillusioned and disoriented.
  • Take an inventory of the sources in your life that are causing negative beliefs about your sense of self and driving incongruent choices in your life.
  • We make decisions in the moment based on the resources and information available to us.
  • You are the only person who can decide what is best for your unique life circumstances, personality, background, and so forth.


Thank you for reading this lengthy article! Questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to Contact me at (719) 204-1664 or [email protected]. Hannah Chism, MA, UP, NCC, PHR is a mental health therapist and career coach based in Colorado Springs, CO and offers free consultations and telehealth/virtual services.