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You Aren’t Lazy; You Just Have Comparitis

comparison self-worth Mar 11, 2023
A latte in a blue cup and saucer sits on a table next to a journal by Engin Akyurt of Pixabay

To become a Physician, you demonstrated incredible tenacity and resilience. Each step along your path, including college admissions, O-Chem, MCATs, ERAS, Step tests, etc was a winnowing, separating those who “could,” from those who “couldn’t.” And each time we stepped up another step on the mountain, the top got narrower and narrower, and expectations got higher and higher. And the cost? A lot of comparison along the way.

Whether you consider yourself judgmental or not, we have always been compared to others, and we needed to pay attention, at least in some small degree, to that comparison. There were people “above” you, and “below” you, and the goal was always to be “on top.”

(I’m going to pause and acknowledge that this journey has been rife with privilege and disadvantages that contributed to all of these outcomes; medicine is fraught with inequities at all levels. My goal here is not to say that top performers are better or worse than others, simply that the comparisons were ubiquitous all along the path and that these comparisons have consequences).

Your progress in medicine has always been dependent on comparison. And given the current milieu of Press-Ganey and HEDIS metrics, patient reviews, etc, comparison doesn’t stop.

But I’m curious how comparison is showing up in your life?

I learned long ago to tune out metrics that popped up on Epic; the “red” and “green” labels for HEDIS scores bothered me for a long time, until I decided that I didn’t care. But for me, comparison remained in my constant self-judgment that I was lazy.

I have zero proof in my life that I am lazy. Zero. But given that the group of people that I compare myself too is a bunch of high-achieving Physicians, some of whom run marathons, some of whom have 5 kids, some of whom are in leadership, or whatever else they do, I had plenty of fodder to feed my internal messaging that I was lazy.

Which is why, each time I see a title of a book about laziness, “The Lazy Girl’s Guide to…..” etc, I always pick it up. And each time I do, I quickly put it back down because it’s not actually helpful to me. Why? Because my self-judgment, that I am lazy, is a form of personality dysmorphia (making this term up). It’s all about faulty comparison.

This habit of comparison is understandable. The act of comparison is an important human skill that serves us well in many instances from an evolutionary perspective. But when we use it to constantly degrade ourselves, we do ourselves harm, creating a self-image or a perspective that doesn’t serve us. And since our self-image can have an important impact on our actions and habits, it does matter how we see ourselves.

This can go the other way too of course. If I see myself as superior to others, this significantly impairs my ability to relate to others and to feel connected. 

The work here becomes awareness, yes again, and understanding that comparison is not always a helpful or accurate skill to deploy, especially in the middle years of our lives. Developing a feeling of sufficiency, or “enoughness,” embracing that you are an imperfect human and loving yourself is the goal. Does that create laziness? No. An imperfect, but perfectly-good-enough human can always have goals, work on new habits and learn new things. But that imperfect human is coming from a very different place than the person who self-flagellates herself for being lazy, or unworthy.

Time to believe that you are enough. Right now.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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