Me vs. Everybody
I spent so many years of my life comparing myself to others that for a while I couldn’t tell when I was winning or losing. Everything was measured by someone else’s ruler. Recently, I’ve started to realize that my journey can’t be measured in inches or centimeters. It’s too long and too deep for that. My journey is dynamic and unique and, as I am just beginning to embrace, its complicatedly beautiful. Just like me.
I think on some level we all compare ourselves to others. And at certain times, healthy comparison can be a good thing. It can serve as a driving force to push you towards your goals. Healthy comparison can be a motivator. Key word - HEALTHY. I know for sure that for many years the act of me judging myself by others’ “success” was anything but healthy. In many cases, for me, comparision became more like jealousy. I wanted what others had - success, love, confidence, recognition - but because of the way I was feeling about myself at the time, all that comparing got me was depression and broken friendships. Real friendships can’t thrive when jealousy is a part of the equation. I’m grateful that my warped thinking didn’t make me lose friends, but it did damage some of my friendships in multiple ways.
Healthy comparison is about looking to others as a guide or a motivating force to achieve what it is you want. Those you are comparing yourself to can be a living, breathing vision board for you - if that sense of comparison stays in check and outside of the envy range. WARNING - once you start being hard on yourself for not being/doing/having what you think you should be/do/have, that’s a serious clue that the line of healthy comparison has been erased. Beating yourself up, feeling sad or inadequate, or obsessing over your perceived shortcomings is a recipie for disaster.
Here are some things I have learned to do to keep those ill feelings in check:
Write It Out
It can be easy to lose sight of what makes you amazing and what sets you apart from the crowd. When you start to feel lost in your negative self-talk, sit and write. Make a list of every wonderful thing you can think of about yourself. Read the list once you’re done. And then read it again. Post it in a place where the list is in your face. Add to it, read it, look at it…make sure you get how wonderful you are etched into your soul and embedded in your brain.
Talk It Out
Negative self-talk is part of what got you here, right? So use positive self-talk to combat that. Select a few of the things you wrote on your list above and say them to yourself. Treat them like affirmations. Say them over and over again - in your head or outloud - until they become evident in everything you do. Affirmations are a great way to help you ‘fake it until you make it”.
Breathe It Out
Although I don’t have a consistent meditation practice in place yet, I am keenly aware of when the best thing for me to do is take a big step back, settle myself, relax, and breathe. When those dark feelings of self-doubt come creeping in, that is a perfect time to get quiet and tap into your inner light. All you need is a place to sit with minimum distractions. Calm your mind and try to just focus on your breathing. Sometimes when that isn’t easy for me to do, I think of words to focus on for my inhaling and exhaling. For example, inhale peace and exhale love. If you can even sit for just 3-5 minutes, it can usually reset your mind and get you back to thinking positive thoughts.
It’s ok to do some comparison to others as long as it doesn’t make you question your worthiness and unique abilities. If you feel like you’ve gone too far and you’re starting to beat yourself up, there are some things you can do to pull yourself back from the edge.
And if all else fails, remember this quote from Iyanla Vanzant: “Comparison is an act of violence against the self.”
Love yourself. Always.