The Comparer – final (over)achievement archetype

We’ve come the end in our series Achievement patterns and strategies with the Comparer.

The Comparer lives by the words: ‘The grass is always greener… ’.

Comparison is nothing new. In 1954 Festinger came up with the social comparison theory. At the core of his theory is the idea that people come to know about themselves—their own abilities, successes, and personality—by comparing themselves with others. It’s central to our need for acceptance and belonging.

But the Comparer archetype takes this behaviour to the extremes. Comparers have a clear view of what life should be like and constantly compare themselves to others. They make sure their Instagram feeds are perfectly color coded and are at risk of being addicted to social media.

As a Comparer you also want to be perfect IRL and try to say clever things, be helpful and serve the right food at dinner parties. If people around you are unwell you risk missing the signs and often don’t observe your own signals of stress either.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Low self-esteem
      • Fear of being abandoned
      • Fear of rejection
How to overcome:
      1. Do a Social media detox – really! Here are a few tips:
          1. a)    Give your digital devices a bedtime.b)    Start a new morning habit.c)    Delete your social media apps.

            d)    Replace social media time with a new hobby or activity.

            e)    Break the habit of reaching for your phone.

            f)      Use technology for reasons other than scrolling social media.

            g)    Pay attention to the media you consume.

            h)    Spend more time observing the world around you.

            i)      Track your progress.

            j)      Set yourself reminders to not check social media.

      1. 2. Learn to spot the bottom of the iceberg. When you find yourself comparing, turn the tables around and ask yourself what the other person might admire in you. We can never really understand someone else’s reality, struggles and insecurities just as they might not have all your strengths in sight.3. Practice Meditation

 

Ok, so those were the 6 (over)achievement archetypes.

I use this model a lot in my coaching practice and it’s central to the Achievement Detox program. Often clients tell me that they can relate to several archetypes but when looking into the driver and fears it often becomes clear which overachievement strategy they use the most.

And that’s where we focus in with behavioural experiments.

Because as with all behavioural change, we need to work through the 3As:

      1. First we need to be AWARE of our behaviours and cognitions
      2. Then we need to ACCEPT the situation
      3. But nothing will change unless we ACT – we need to try and evaluate new strategies and slowly build new behaviours.

I hope you have enjoyed the series. If you would like more information or would like to work with me as a coach, please Get in touch

The Competitor – 5th (over)achievement archetype

Motto: ‘winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’.

Competitors see life as a race and always try to be just that little bit better than everyone else.

If you identify as a Competitor achievement archetype you often ignore your own basic needs such as sleep and food.

You sometimes come across as judgmental and go to extreme lengths to hide your own failures and shortcomings. You often step on people’s toes.

There is a lot of shame involved in this achievement strategy and the competitor risks ending up a lonely person. If a person hinges all their value on winning, who are they when they lose or cannot even compete anymore?

Drivers and Fears:
      • The belief that the one who is best gets all the rewards
      • Fear of feeling worthless
      • The belief that you are only loved and accepted when you win
How to overcome:
      1. Understand your insecurities. Our insecurities fuel competitive, jealous feelings. These insecurities may have developed in our younger years because of experiences that made us feel unworthy. Reflect on or speak to a therapist about what your family motto was growing up and which events shaped you.
      1. Do a cost /benefit analysis. What is this behaviour costing you in productivity, creativity? What is it costing the people you hurt? How is your lack of vulnerability effecting your leadership?
      1. Define your own success and standards. Instead of using others’ accomplishments as benchmarks for success, get clear on what success means to you, what your goals are and, critically, how you would like to get there? (read how many toes you are willing to step on).

Where do you draw the line between healthy ambition and unhealthy competitiveness?

Final piece in our series of (over)achievement archetypes: The Comparer. (yes, it will mention social media detox)

Ⓒ Vallin 2021. All rights reserved

The Constant Achiever – (over)achievement archetype 4

This is probably the achiever archetype I identify the most with. People who are Constant Achievers (and I at times) live by the motto:

You can rest when you’re dead’.

The constant achiever is a multi-tasker who always juggles several big projects. If you identify as a constant achiever work is always on your mind and you are likely checking emails around the clock.

In your spare time, you renovate your apartment, take a language course or prepare for a marathon (yep, yep and yep)

Everything you do has a purpose and a goal. Your to-do list is your comfort blanket and you likely to most things in life very quickly. As a consequence the constant achiever is rarely in the moment and at high risk of burnout.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Achievement as a safe zone.
      • Addiction to the ‘high’ of achievement.
      • It is uncomfortable to take it easy, laziness is frowned upon.
      • Fear of stopping development.
How to overcome:
    • Get clear on the negative consequences of constantly achieving. List what it does to your health, relationships, and results.
    • Practice self compassion. Start with: Avoid saying and thinking judgmental things about yourself, spend time doing things you enjoy, Letting go of external validation.
    • Behavioral Experiments: This part was central to the ‘achievement detox’ I did a few years ago to limit the damage my achievement addiction. I embarked on a 1 year experiment during which I took on a very junior role at work and banned all achievement focus from my life. It was an eyeopener but also a very painful experience. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy we instead recommend smaller experiments such as:
      • Post on LinkedIn and stop yourself from checking the results for 24 hours 😉.
      • Have a dinner party without meticulously preparing the food.
      • Swim on the slowest lane and allow yourself to be overtaken by everyone

Yep, have tried all three and for a Constant Achiever, it’s hard work and something we need to keep practicing.

Next up: The Competitor

 

 

 

‘Walkflection’ – Last Thursday every month @8:30am, Djurgården, Stockholm

Most of us know which activities keep us healthy and protect us from negative stress. Yet, we so often neglect them:

    • Meaningful conversations
    • Exercise
    • Reflection
    • Nature

Introducing ‘Walkflections’ = Walk + Reflection

As Margaret Wheatley said:

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

We meet on the last Thursday of each month at 8:30 am at Blå Porten by  Djurgårdsbron for one hour of walking, reflection and meaningful conversations.

New dates for autumn 2021: 26 August, 30 September

I will share a model or piece of research on the topic of self leadership, we set off on a walk on Djurgården in pairs or groups of three (at a safe distance from each other). We stop halfway and share our reflections; I might pose a new questions and we switch walking partners.

We are back at 9:30 at Djurgårdsbron so you can get to work or cycle home filled with:

    • New perspectives and insights
    • Energy and inspiration
    • New connections
    • Actions for the coming month

Participation is free but to ensure we limit the group size, please reserve our spot below or let me know on: kontakt@emmavallin.se, 070919534. Maximum 10 people.

We speak both Swedish and English 🙂

Reserve your spot

The Perfectionist – (Over)achiever archetype 1

Motto: ‘Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing’.

This achievement strategy is about doing everything to perfection, keeping your promise and never ever handing anything in half-baked. Perfectionists often respond to emails immediately so no one has to wait and tend to compensate for the shortcomings of others.

These overachievers scan the reactions of others to pick up any signs of irritation or disappointment so they can figure out a way to correct it. They have a clear view of what life should be like and how we should behave as individuals.

Just like their overachiever cousins – the Comparison Junkies – the Perfectionists keep track of everyone on social media and compare themselves all the time. On a bad day they can spend 60 minutes writing and rewriting a two-sentence email. Chronic procrastination could be the result of perfectionism.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Fear of failure
      • Fear others upsetting others
      • If I make a mistake, it will lead to a catastrophe
      • I am the reason others feel bad
      • If I do everything right I am accepted/loved
How to overcome it?
      1. Practice realistic thinking. Because perfectionists are often very critical of themselves, one of the most effective ways to overcome perfectionism is to replace self-critical thoughts with more realistic and helpful statements. Some examples of positive realistic statements: Everyone makes mistakes! Nobody is perfect!, All I can do is my best!
      2. Changing perspective: Perfectionists tend to have a hard time seeing things from another person’s point of view. Start by asking yourself: How might someone else (e.g. a close friend) view this situation? What might I tell a close friend who was having similar thoughts?
      3. Exposure: Having a problem with perfectionism is a lot like having a “phobia” of making mistakes or being imperfect – you get paralyzed by the thought of making mistakes. Exposure is an effective method to overcome your perfectionism, here are some examples of simple exposure practice:
        • Show up for an appointment 15 minutes late.
        • Tell people when you are tired (or other feelings that you consider a weakness).
        • Wear a piece of clothing that has a visible stain on it.
        • Lose your train of thought during a presentation.
        • Try a new restaurant without first researching how good it is.

If your perfectionism or other overachiever strategies hold you back and you would like to develop heathier behaviors and strategies – book a free consultation with me and we’ll take it from there.

PS: My own exposure practice while writing this post was to only read through once before publishing 🙂

Next up on the series of overachiever archetypes: The Controller.

Overachievement Archetypes. © 2021 Emma Vallin. All rights reserved.

The Controller – (Over)achiever archetype 2

Motto: ‘If you want a thing done well, do it yourself’

Achievement by control is about keeping a close eye on everything and everyone around you. If you identify with the Controller archetype you probably know exactly what will happen on Tuesday in 3 weeks and love writing lists and plans.

You prefer to take care of most things yourself and delegation and collaboration could be a challenge for you. The Controller can have a hard time dealing with unexpected events.

Due to their challenge with collaboration and delegation, Controllers risk losing valuable input and inspiration from people around them. In extreme cases they could end up alienating colleagues and friends.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Fear of losing control
      • Fear of uncertainty
      • Will to succeed
How to overcome:
      1. Educate yourself about anxiety and control. Rather than falling back on control as a defense against uncertainty, learn all you can about the fear that is driving you to micromanage. Read books or see a therapist.

2. Ask yourself how effective controlling really is. For example, is asking your teenage son whether he’s brushed his teeth every morning an effective way to make him take responsibility for his dental care? If not, stop and rethink your approach.

3. Ban control-oriented language from your vocabulary. For example, unsolicited advice or criticizing someone’s perspective. Altering your language takes courage, and you must commend yourself for learning how to let go of control.

What advise would you give a Controller? If you identify as one, how do you overcome your need to control?

Next up: The worrying problem solver

Overachievement Archetypes. © 2021 Emma Vallin. All rights reserved.

The Worrying Problem Solver – (Over)achiever archetype 3

‘Spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions’

This achievement strategy is about never leaving anything unresolved. If you identify as worrying problem solver you often experience anxiety and negative stress when facing a challenging problem.

On top of the anxiety the issue with this approach is that it’s very ineffective. When the brain’s threat system is switched on you are unlikely to find constructive solutions.

The result is a behavior that is motivated by getting rid of discomfort. In the short term, it feels better to dwell on the problem than to leave it.

Drivers and Fears:
      • The dopamine kick of solving things.
      • Inability to deal with the discomfort of disappointment.
      • A tendency to catastrophize.
      • Fear of failure.
How to overcome:

1.Recognize the difference between worrying and productive problem solving. Here are some signs that you might be worrying:

      • You dismiss all your solutions as ineffective.
      • You are tense, distressed, and upset.
      • You spend a lot of time focusing on how things could go terribly wrong.

2. To get out of worrying-mode. Try taking some slow breaths from your diaphragm and relax. If that doesn’t help, take a break (go for a run, Clean the toilet). Come back to the problem when you’ve had a chance to settle down.

3. Put negative thoughts into a drawer. If you still find yourself slipping into negative thinking. Let the thoughts come, then mentally put them into a drawer, lock it and tell yourself you can open the draw again in an hour. In the meanwhile focus on positive ways to solve the problem.

Have you experienced periods of worrying and anxiety? What tips would you give to someone who is a worrying problem solver?

Next up: The Constant Achiever