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  • katybateson

Comparison - The death of joy

I’ve heard comparison described as the death of joy. I know that type of comparison and I’m sure you know it too!

I think there are two types of comparison in improv. One is positive comparison, you watch another improviser and you think “I could do that.” You’re inspired, you’re optimistic and you  feel positive.

The other kind is the spiralling comparison. You see another improviser and you feel jealous or inferior or self critical. You think “I could never do that,” or “why aren’t I in an improv group?” And then you start to downward spiral, thinking and believing the negative thoughts.

There are a few things we can do to stop comparison stealing our joy.

One is to recognise that our brains are wired to look for patterns. If you start to think about buying a red ford car, you will suddenly start to see them everywhere! Your brain is on the look out for red fords so you start to spot them. The same is true for negative thinking. If you starting thinking that you are a rubbish improviser and no one likes to improvise with you your brain will start looking for evidence. You will notice every line that falls flat, any time your scene partner looks uncomfortable or you think of what you should have said. And your brain won’t look for all the brilliant things you did.

One way you can start to retrain your brain is to stick a note somewhere that you will see it a lot. Maybe by your mirror or at your desk and write something positive that you want to believe about your improv eg “I am fun to improvise with,” “I am awesome at characterisation.” Your brain will then start to look for the evidence to match this statement. This will help you to start believing it.

It’s also good to be aware of your triggers and see if you can make any changes to avoid it. Think about what makes you spiral into the land of I’m not good enough. Maybe you could hide certain people on social media if you know their posts trigger these feelings or maybe it’s not going to improv classes when you’re tired and run down. Look for ways you can look after yourself.

All these feelings are so normal and are what makes us human so be kind to yourself. Even the best improvisers will suffer from this sometimes.

And remember that social media only shows peoples highlight reels. So try not to judge yourself against other peoples glory moments.

You’ve got this!

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