Wednesday, June 9, 2010
From a young age we have learned to compare ourselves and what we have to others. Little Mary has the prettier doll or Johnny has better snacks in his lunchbox. It's no surprise then that as we get older the comparison progresses further to the level of education and career opportunities, wealth, physical appearance, the size of a home or a shiny, new car. At the root of all comparison is really just fear and jealousy. Fear that you may never be as fit, as successful in a chosen career, as good of a cook or even as pretty as another and often times feelings of jealousy will come about as a result. It also has a lot to do with our innate need for reassurance.
Today's post was inspired by an acquaintance and her husband. In the past they've shared with me that they feel the need to keep up with the Jones' and as a result, it has kept them on a treadmill of performance. Every party they throw, gift they buy one another and home they purchase is trendy, a financial stretch and grand. It has ultimately kept them from being truly content and it has spilled into other areas of their life.
All of this comparing contibutes to a low self esteem which isn't helpful. Often times when people compare themselves to others they end up comparing their own weaknesses to the other person's strengths. This is hardly a fair or accurate comparison.
The truth is that we were all given unique skillsets, relationships, beauty, intelligence, a sense of humor and creativity. We've all been given specific opportunities at different times and choose to make sacrifices which may be different from that of others. For example, some friends and acquaintances have confessed to hubby and I that they would love to travel and visit the countries we step foot on, but the truth is that we save and sacrifice in many areas to make it happen. We traded renovating and giving our home the ultimate design overhaul, along with having just one solid car versus two (it turns out that for nearly 4 years we really haven't needed a second car anyway, just a rental here and there), to see the world at a time when we do not have little ones. It is available to many, but there is a cost.
We would all be wise to learn from some of the most successful people. They keep their eye on the prize, work diligently and don't have time to waste looking in the rearview mirror or out of their side windows at their competition either. The key is to work towards your own goals and dreams and forget about 'what everybody else is doing'. Many women worry that they won't be a good enough mother or wife. Just being there for your spouse and children and loving them wholeheartedly is what matters most. We don't do ourselves any good by worrying about things in advance. All we can do is give life our best effort every single day and know that we are moving forward in new and positive ways.
If we aren't happy with where we're at, a change may be in order. Sometimes a bit of 'healthy' comparison to someone whom we admire is just what we need to catapult ourselves in the right direction. Do learn from them but don't try to become them.
5 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
1. Become Aware- Try to immediately recognize when you start having feelings of comparison. Many people do this unconsciously, but it is important to make yourself aware so that you can change your thought pattern to something productive and positive.
2. Focus on the Good-In these moments tell yourself what you love about yourself or think about what you are thankful for. For example: Maybe it's your wit, smile, beautiful children, amazing husband, etc. Do not spend time dwelling on or beating yourself up about what you don't have. Also, think about your strengths. Take the focus off of your weaknesses or past failures and praise yourself for the things that you do well. Be proud of yourself and move towards your goals with only your strengths in mind.
3. Embrace Imperfection- Acknowledge the fact that nobody in this world is perfect, no matter how others may appear from the exterior. Endeavoring to 'improve' and become your personal best is a valuable use of your time and energy, striving for perfection will only make you feel frustrated. The imperfections make you who you are and in fact make you 'perfect' just the way you are. There will ALWAYS be someone faster, funnier, smarter, more fit, more youthful looking for their age, the list goes on.
4. Compare Yourself Only to YOU- One of the single best methods for measuring success is not by competing with or comparing yourself with others but it is by becoming a little bit better than you were last week, last year or even last decade, etc. Focus on your overall journey of life. Life was never intended to be a competition. We are all on our own journey to learn, love, create and become. That journey doesn't have anything to do with how other people are doing, or what they have. It does, however, have everything to do with what you want to do, and where you want to go. That should be the only focus.
5. Discover Your Purpose-The most important thing you can do for yourself is to find your purpose in this world. If you have not yet found it, you may want to read multiple books on the subject, spend some time alone thinking about what you enjoy most and what you most dream of doing, if money were no object. You may also want to invest in a life coach who can help reveal to you (based on information that you share with them) what your purpose might be. By learning what your unique purpose is, you'll find new meaning and passion in your life that you never knew before. When you have a laser-like focus on what you are called to do, these comparisons and the thoughts about what everyone else is working on (or which direction they're going in) will become unimportant. You'll be so busy fulfilling your own life's calling that you won't have time to dwell on or compare your life and yourself to others.
ONE FINAL NOTE....
Be especially wary of comparing yourself to celebrities, political and public figures or those with extreme advantages. Even though they might serve as inspiration or a role model in your mind, you cannot ignore their priveledges. As it pertains to beauty (because so many women struggle with this area), many female singers, actresses, socialites and political figures have access to pricey personal trainers, makeup artists, publicists to promote their career, hair stylists, clothing designers and stylists and wealth that are not the norm for most. Imitating their fashion on a budget is one thing, but putting yourself down because you don't look just like Heidi Klum after having four kiddos is another. After all, a lot of times fashion editors use a little tool called photoshop. *wink*
I'd love to hear your thoughts or personal stories. As always, anonymous comments are welcome. :)
Have a lovely day!
*images: (1) (2)