When you size yourself up against her (notes on the comparing mind)
Today I want to talk about a common trap many of us fall into. When we are in the trap, it leaves us doubting ourselves and thinking that we are doing all of it wrong.
And this past week I found myself right-smack-dab in the middle of the trap myself.
What happened was I woke up on Friday morning, a bit later than expected. Fridays are the days I catch up on paperwork, writing, and emails. But here I was still in bed, and I was already feeling behind.
So I skipped my morning rituals (never a good idea) and went straight to my email. One of the first emails that caught my eye was from a life coach, of whom I’ve been a loyal follower and reader for over a year now. I admire her authentic marketing, her savvy writing style, and her effective and practical tools for living an awesome life. I could see that this particular email was about a new program she was launching. I was curious, so I opened it up.
In a matter of seconds of reading her email, floods of envy and jealously rushed in. The program’s webpage was lovely. The material and writing were rich, deep, and meaningful. The pictures of her were stunning too, and all of it flowed beautifully. I was in awe. I started dreaming up what it would be like to be her, all put together and living – what appeared to be – a perfect life.
And before I had even made myself breakfast or brushed my teeth, I had managed to find myself in a hole of sadness, because I felt like I could never obtain her level of success. The way I saw it, she was better than me – smarter than me – prettier than me – more spiritual than me – a more exceptional writer than me – and on and on.
I entered breakdown mode.
I began to doubt everything I was doing. I questioned owning my own business, the new website, the program that I am currently designing and dreaming up, and my recent decision to take January off and go to New Zealand with Billy (when I “should” be staying at home to work). In those moments, my life became uprooted by insecurity and judgment because I was certain I was doing all of it wrong.
I felt terrible about myself.
So I stopped and I got curious about what was taking me down this road of self-doubt. And eventually I was able to gain a bit more perspective.
I started to see more clearly what had cut me at the knees and dropped me to the ground in what seemed like a matter of seconds. I had fallen into a comparison trap.
So I threw myself a rope and reminded myself (and re-taught myself) the following crash course on what to do when we compare ourselves to other people:
1) If you are going to compare, be sure to do this – If you need to compare, compare yourself to yourself. Do not compare apples to oranges and measure your life to someone else’s life – they are a different person who is on an entirely different journey. The nature of comparison means you are measuring your worst attributes against her very best – not good. Instead of wasting emotional and mental energy playing the unfair comparison game between you and her, stay home and spend your energy evaluating the one and only life you actually have control over – yours. Work everyday at being the best version of you, NOT being more like her.
2) Know comparisons are about smaller pursuits – Comparisons will have us thinking that sizing ourselves up is a way to achieve success and what we want in life. Yet, what we want is to live a joy-filled life, one of connection and ease, and where we feel powerful, confident, and aligned. That’s what I want anyway. And these higher pursuits are not measurable. They are not a metric that can be calculated by a prettier than or smarter than, or by a waistline and the size of our thighs. Comparisons will have you thinking that those higher pursuits can be measured, yet that belief will have you barking up the wrong tree again and again.
3) Your comparing mind lacks all logic–When I opened that email I thought: since she is successful, it means I am not. And since she is put together, it means I am a mess. But that black and white, either/or thinking has little to no logic behind it. This week, I had to see that there’s plenty of room for my success AND her success, and that she and I could BOTH be powerful women. So I spent the rest of the day genuinely repeating to myself: Good for her. May her success show me that my success is possible too.
4) Choose to cleanse the comparisons –You cannot compare yourself (then have the inevitable side effect of feeling terrible about yourself) and make real-deal growth and change. Stop digging your hole deeper with comparisons that leave you standing on infertile ground. Instead, eliminate and cleanse those comparison triggers. Stop following blogs or facebook pages that send you into comparison mode and take space from particular people in your life that happen to trigger you in this way.
This week I’ve committed to a comparison cleanse by not opening emails from that particular coach, and there’s already more space for me to focus on me. It feels great. Being my very best self this week means resisting the urge to open those emails, and sticking to my plan, my knowledge, and my work.
To not fall into the trap.
Now it’s your turn – what comparison trap are you currently in? Who or what have you been comparing yourself to lately? What comparisons cleanse will you take on this week?