In my past I have never measured up. No matter whom I used as a comparison tool, I did not come out on top. I didn’t commit blatant crimes (I’m aware that driving over the speed limit is a crime), I didn’t hurt children or small animals. So why did I never achieve feeling or being better than the person I was comparing myself to? The answer to that question lies in the trap of the comparison game. When ever we compare ourselves to anyone else, we are not comparing accurately. Understand this: I am fully aware of my thoughts, feelings, reactions, and interactions in side of my own head. My interaction with people leads me to believe this is the same foundation that everyone uses to compare others against. Sounds familiar right? Here’s the disconnect. While we are comparing our internal responses to people/places/activities we aren’t comparing them against the same stimuli. The biggest dis-service we do to ourselves is that we trust our perception to be accurate. In this case, nothing could be farther from the truth. The problem is our perceptions in this example, are not balanced in reality. For a moment, think about the most together and competent man, woman, or child you know. The problem is that we do not live inside these other people’s heads. So we can’t know their international responses. Therefore we are not measuring using the same criteria.
When we compare our insides to other people’s outsides we are sure to fall short, every time. In that situation, does comparing ourselves to anyone else make any sense? Below I’m going to give you some suggestions on navigating through the comparison world, and allowing it to completely leave your habits.
- Focus: The key to focus is focusing on your strengths. Focus on what you are doing well, what you have overcome, what you have succeeded at today. Because by doing so you focus on exactly what you want (your success, your accomplishment). Remember the blog about negative thinking? That applies here as well. Focus on what you want, and you will attract more of those situations to you.
- Inspire: Find your source of inspiration. Allow yourself to be inspired, whether it’s by nature, spirituality, music, or animals. You are the expert on you, and therefore you know yourself well enough to know what inspires you. Even if it starts with a little sliver of inspiration, feed that! Feed it until it is exuding through you.
- Gratitude: Gratitude is one of the strongest and most positive emotions and feelings. Have you heard that expression “where light exists, dark cannot?” The same thing is true here. If you are focused on positive and identifying things you have to be grateful for, comparison cannot exist there. There’s an old children’s song that I used to sing, “Are you humbly grateful or grumbly hateful? What’s your attitude?” I encourage you to spend some time being, feeling, and focusing on gratitude.
- Breathing: I encourage people to do some focused breathing. Breathing is the best coping skill for anxiety for a variety of reasons. Focus on the way the breathe feels entering your nose and how it feels exiting your mouth. This process slows down your mind long enough to help you gain clarity and focus on what you want.
- Mantras: Mantras are very powerful. The key to mantras is to make them a normal part of your habits and behaviors. What I mean by this is the more you can say it, feel it, believe it during times of very low stress; the more natural it will feel during times when stress is high. Here are a couple of suggestions for mantras:
- I am enough.
- I am focused on my life and my happiness.
- Decide: Make the decision to give up the comparison trap. Once I made that decision the amount of time I spent comparing myself to others was drastically reduced. In fact, I very rarely engage in the comparison trap anymore. Not because I think that I’m better than anyone else, but rather I do not see the relevance. I have become focused on what my role is here. So, other people’s lives are none of my business.
Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. Jenn holds a clinical certification in hypnosis. To learn more about Jenn please go here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com