Have you ever noticed the tendency to compare yourself to others? To make decisions about how you are doing based on how others are doing? And have you noticed that when you do this, you may find yourself feeling like “not enough”?
Comparing is often so habitual, we don’t even notice we’re doing it. But the effect of this type of comparison is something to take a look at.
Can you remember the last time you felt unhappy with your situation? It may have been the direct result of a comparison to others’ life situations. Or, it may have been the result of comparison to the person you think you “should” be, or to the circumstances you think you “should” be experiencing – to an imagined future, or a long ago past. Have you felt discouraged with your progress on the path to success when you compare it to where you want to be?
It’s always important to strive to live your best life. It’s important to reflect and see if you are headed where you want to go. It’s important to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t and adjust your course accordingly. But beware when you compare to others, or to an imaginary self!
This type of comparison often results in negative emotions. Some people attempt to resolve those feelings by surrounding themselves with people who are not doing as well as they are, people who are “non-threatening” to their self confidence, and people who make them feel good “in comparison”. Although this may result in some good feelings, it is short lived and tenuous because it depends on the continual comparison to external circumstances. More importantly, it limits one’s capacity to be mentored and inspired by those further along the path.
Leaving the Comparison Game
A better solution is to get out of the comparison game altogether. You can begin to stop using imaginary measuring sticks with which you evaluate your life – the measuring sticks that have “more” at one end and “less” at the other, “rich” or “poor”, “good” or “bad”.
Here are some personal life coach tools for leaving the comparison game:
1) Be keenly aware of how it feels when you think that you, or your circumstances, are not enough. Know what it feels like when you have low self confidence and feel discouraged.
2) When you notice that you have these feelings, also notice your specific thoughts of “less than” or “not enough”.
3) Identify the imaginary measuring stick that you are using. See if you can see the arbitrary points along the stick.
4) Answer these questions: What if your situation is not better or worse, good or bad, but rather, IT JUST IS? How might you live if you could only see your present moment and had no reference to better or worse? Can you just live your life NOW and not worry about measuring up?
5) Seek to learn about yourself and what motivates you. Do you really want those particular circumstances or do you want something different for your life? What do you see in others’ circumstances that you can learn from?
6) Practice gratitude. What do you appreciate about your life right now?
There is a whole world of imaginary measuring sticks. The people that you compare yourself to have their own imaginary measuring sticks that create the same feelings for themselves that you create when you compare. If you see others’ circumstances as better than yours, you will think that they are very happy and satisfied. But quite possibly, they are not happy and satisfied, because they are playing the comparison game, too!
Without so much comparing, we free ourselves to grow and learn from all situations.
Mindful Life Coaching is support for mindful living and letting go of comparing and judging.
(Image by Suvro Datta)