The other day I instant messaged with a young man who said he struggled with sadness and depression. When I asked why, he told me he had just attended a school reunion. Prior to the get together he’d been feeling great. Post-reunion was another story. After hearing the tales his mates told about what was happening in their lives, he began to attack himself. “Why is everyone farther along than I am? Something must be wrong with me. I’m behind in life!” He felt tremendous anxiety-he thought he had to push himself to stay in “the race” with his peers.
Continually comparing ourselves with others consumes valuable life energy. It is easy to get snared in this subtle mental trap. When we encounter someone, we tend not to see the actual human being: instead, we notice what labels they’re wearing, what possessions they’ve accumulated, what titles they’ve acquired. We scrutinize others to determine whether they are “ahead” of us or whether we are “beating” them.
Does your heart sink into your stomach when you hear other people talk about their successes-academic, professional or financial? Do you berate yourself, thinking, “Why does everyone seem to be doing so much better than I am?” Of course you smile and offer a grudging, “Congratulations.” Yet, you silently hope, that somehow, they’ll stop doing so well.
Imagine a life in which you let go of competitive comparisons and instead focused solely on being YOUR best. This concept may seem foreign. After all, since childhood, we’ve always been measured against others. At school we were rated by our grades. At home our appearance, behavior and friends were contrasted with those of our siblings. We’ve been taught to “keep score” so we know “where we stand” in the group.
All of this judgment robs us of the fun of growing into our own uniqueness. Inner stress builds as we strive to prove to others that we are special and important too, that we meet The Standard. To stay in the game, we spend money we don’t really have on the newest fashions, fanciest jewelry, latest high-tech gadgets, fastest cars and biggest houses. Then we suffer inner misery worrying about how we will pay for all that we’ve acquired to keep up the illusion of success.
What if it is possible to change this perspective?
There is no pressure to compete unless we put it on ourselves. Standards we decide to meet are self-imposed. We need not continue to evaluate ourselves against artificial yardsticks society assures are important.
To those devices for comparison, I say, “No. Thank you. I’ll take this information under advisement and choose what feels right for me.” With this decision, I am saying “Yes” to myself. I remained trapped far too long in an unhappy life because I believed I had to prove to everyone else that I could measure up. Externally imposed guidelines no longer interest me. I listen to my inner Guidance. Being MY best is the only way for me to be truly happy.
If you are exhausted from continually competing to be as “successful” as others, then here are a few suggestions to help you look at yourself and your life with fresh eyes.
- Observe how often you compare yourself with others. Change starts with awareness. When we watch our thoughts closely, we begin to see the mindsets we’ve adopted. Each belief has a corresponding emotional reaction. What beliefs about yourself are causing you distress, dissatisfaction, frustration, sadness or depression? For at least one day notice how often you look at someone and then criticize yourself based on the way they look or what they have. What do you think of yourself? How do these thoughts make you feel? Notice how often you measure your worth by what you don’t have or what you haven’t done.
- Release the inner pressure. Stop judging yourself. Ask God to help you see yourself in a positive way. You are an exquisite expression of Life, valuable by virtue of your creation apart from any external having or doing. Life is not a race it’s an adventure. Allow yourself to be who you are and where you are. Why not accept yourself? Each moment is meant to be enjoyed not judged, grieved, avoided, endured or rushed through. Don’t try to be a palm tree if you are a bird of paradise. Don’t down yourself if you enjoy the marketplace rather than an office or if you desire to create with your hands rather than on a computer. The only way to happiness is to be yourself and do what you love.
- Celebrate your uniqueness. Regain your energy by dancing to your own beat. Take time to explore the REAL you, the one who longs to express yourself to the world. It may feel strange at first. You might not even remember who you are…but that’s all right. Now is your chance to declare yourself free. When you let go of society’s rigid guidelines and allow yourself to follow your passions, moving toward what brings you joy, you will be amazed at the relief, enthusiasm and serendipities that begin to flow into your life.
- Realize there will be naysayers. In general people want us to remain with them-trapped in the comparison cycle. After all, those who stop playing the game become unpredictable. They think independently. Their free spirits stir things up. Let others do as they please. It’s okay if they still feel the need to compare themselves with each other. Simply wish them well and free yourself to try a new approach.
- Be happy for the achievements of others. Celebrate when others are THEIR best! There is plenty of opportunity, abundance and success for all of us. If you can’t see this as true right now, ask the Universe to help you open your mind. Affirm, “I choose to see new possibilities all around me.”
Each of us brings unique viewpoints, insights, aptitudes, and ingenuity to the planet. The world needs you to be the best YOU possible. Why not break free?
Food For Thought
“To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.” E. E. Cummings, American Poet
Patricia Omoqui, The Thought Dr.TM, is an executive coach and business consultant, the author
Keynote Speaker, Corporate Trainer, Life Coach and
Author of Clarify Your Purpose & Live It
(Now available on Amazon)
Patricia Omoqui Enterprises