Comparing yourself to others is like a death wish—albeit a slow one. You might think I am being dramatic, and of course I am, BUT that does not negate the truth of my statement. Here’s why: Every day we make choices, thousands of little choices, some medium choices and once in a while some real biggies. These decisions and actions have a cumulative effect on our whole being.
The other day, I needed the wisdom of teens to bring me back into balance. Their creativity and willingness to be authentic reminded me of who I used to be as a kid. Sure I had insecurities and self-doubt like any teen, but I also did what I pleased most of the time and didn’t care what most people thought of me.
I was watching Gala Darling’s talk on self-love and was reminded of how important it is to stay away from certain media sources, since society’s message to women about our bodies is not exactly…accepting.
That got me thinking about an area I have always struggled in relation to comparing myself with others (with me being the loser) and that is PROGRESS. Usually, this is in relation to professional aspirations. When I was younger it was academic/intellectual. I wasn’t judging other people. I didn’t look at people that were behind me in any sort of linear way, only those that were ahead.
Common things like, after always having been ahead of many others, I changed my tune and went my own way– yet, kept comparing myself to the “progress” of those who had continued on the predictable linear achievement path.
Nice of me, huh?
This went on for a long time until I became ill with something the doctors could never figure out. I finally had to accept that I was more than my brain (which at that point was foggy and slow due to toxicity) and I might never have my quick mind back if things kept going as they were. I was more than my progress–whatever that may have been.
It was kind of freeing in a way, after I got over the depression of it. I had to look beneath achievement into what really made up my core being—my essence, my self-worth. When I finally came to terms with this and my dreams of getting a Ph.D. seemed impossible, I suddenly got better (after emergency surgery).
I was determined to do something else than run on the track of gathering “tickets” to prove my worth to some unknown person.
Now years later, after a successful career in private practice, time off and adopting our wonderful daughter, I decided to go back into the solo-preneur world and start up my coaching business again.
So how does comparison come in? Well, it’s that media thing that got me again. It’s good to learn from others that are farther along than you, but to be constantly bombarded with messages about being successful, making more money, having more clients, getting over your fears and mastering the latest technology or next best thing…well; it warps your mind a little bit. It becomes hard for a former “performer” to rise to all the challenges thrown her way (and I hold the term “former” very loosely in my hands!).
I have a vision, I have training, I know what I need to do professionally. The constant reminder that I could be better, learn more, make more more more of everything was getting into my psyche. I started to compare myself to other women, younger than me, that had achieved more in their coaching practices.
And the anxiety was building.
I started getting irritable, tense, upset, worried and feeling overwhelmed by all I had not done yet. Sound familiar to anyone?
Then, I listen to these kids and remember what is important. It’s definitely NOT comparing myself to others. I have my own vision, my own path, and don’t need to follow anyone else’s. I want a slower pace. It’s okay to me if I never become a millionaire.
Once I listened to that voice again, the anxiety miraculously lifted. The tension left. I am choosing life; choosing the things that bring me joy, fulfillment and happiness AND this does not involve unconsciously comparing myself to other’s choices.