Have you ever noticed how crappy you feel when you start comparing yourself to other people? Have you noticed how it makes you feel like you aren’t good enough? I fell into this trap a couple of times recently and I want to share my experiences with you. I’m going to share with you and we are going to talk about a better way.
I want to start by talking about my work. I can’t even begin to tell you all the amazing women that I am meeting on my podcast journey. I get to talk to like minded women and interview them about marriage and family. These are marital and family experts who have so much knowledge to share. I eat it up with a spoon. I have really connected with some of these women, and I continue to follow them on social media and listen to their podcasts. I learn so much from these women. They have all done so much. They are doing individual counseling, group counseling, text counseling, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, memberships, summits, courses and so many other things. My husband Seth has brought up all these things to me and he has even more ideas.
As I sat there thinking about counseling, groups, classes, memberships, courses, doing a summit, I began to spiral in my head and begin to not feel good enough. I noticed this pattern for a few days in a row and I put a stop to it. This was not serving me, and this wasn’t how I wanted to feel.
I started to think about the people who had an idea and hadn’t even started. I started to think about how far I have come. I started to think about everything I have accomplished over the last year. This was not about comparing myself to others. This was about comparing myself to myself, and giving myself some credit for how far I have come. What about the people who keep talking about writing a book or starting a podcast? I did both of those things. I’m on my own journey. All these women I follow are on their own journeys.
I decided to shift myself. I will continue to learn from all of these ladies, but I am going to stop comparing myself to them. I will take notes on all the great ideas, but I won’t feel pressure to do them all tomorrow. I will grow at my own speed, in my own time. The fact that any of us women accomplished anything this year is a high five in itself.
I walk into my friend’s house and my jaw drops to the floor. Her house was absolutely spotless. She told me no papers were allowed in the kitchen and I laughed out loud. She was serious. I told my husband the next day how clean my friend’s house was and that our house will just never be like that. He told me I was only allowed to compare myself to a family who has three kids our children’s ages, who also have a golden retriever and two cats. At least he made me laugh, and he was absolutely correct. The playing field for comparison wasn’t even. The families with no pets are already at a huge advantage. Do you know how much hair I clean up every day?
I continuously frustrate Seth as I compare our house to other people’s homes. It drives him crazy. I have come so far, and I still have so far to go. I was the lady who couldn’t go to sleep until I thought my house was spotless. That lady has left the building. She is tired! I am about to go to sleep, and I guarantee you I left dishes in the sink. I forgot to vacuum again today. In my defense I was barely home today, and I drove my children all over the place. Driving my children to their activities is more important to me than vacuuming.
The way that my house looks does not define my worth. I want you to please read that again and let it soak in. I do not believe my house dictates my worth. I feel calmer and more organized when everything is in its place. I feel better about myself when my house is clean. I also remind myself that one day my house will be spotless, and I will miss my kids running around it. The house will be quiet and clean, and I will miss the chaos and the clutter.
My friend told me to look up hoarders every time I get upset about my house and it will make me feel so much better. I actually had looked up messy houses for a post I did and couldn’t believe how much better it made me feel. Do you notice we always compare ourselves to things that we think are better? How come we don’t even think about the houses that are messier than ours? How come we don’t think about the family that never takes a vacation? Why do we compare ourselves to the people who are in Hawaii right now?
We need to pay attention to what makes us jealous. If I am jealous of the family that is on vacation right now, then I need to go plan a vacation. If I can’t afford it, then I need to take steps to save for a vacation. If I am jealous of the woman who is running a summit, then I need to go start building one. Whatever is making you jealous is just a nudge to go for something that you want. Jealousy is a great way to figure out what goals you need to make. If you are jealous of the marathon your friend is running, then go start training for one.
Ironically while I was in the middle of taking notes on this topic, I noticed that Kelly Hutcheson was doing a podcast on comparison. She says there are areas that we tend to compare ourselves to including the 7 F’s:
field (work), fun, family, friends, faith, fitness, finance.
What area do you tend to compare yourself to the most? For me lately it has been field. That is a nudge for me to make some plans, and goals to help me move in directions that I want to take. I am going to be real and honest like I always am and tell you that I already feel busy. Don’t we always feel busy? This means that I am not going to get insanely busy with work. My mom tells me work will always be there. She couldn’t be more right. My kids are only young for so long. I want to be present for my kids. That is number one to me. Work goes underneath my kids. I know that I am privileged to be able to declare that. I am making a good income to help support my family. I don’t feel any pressure that I need to make more money. It isn’t about the money for me. It is about helping people. It is about purpose. If we focus on our purpose and not on comparison, then we will be so much happier.
What do we need to do instead of comparing ourselves to other people and feeling bad about ourselves?
- Remember that you are on your own journey. Focus on yourself. Compare yourself to yourself. How far have you come from last year or last month? Where do you want to head?
- What makes you jealous? Be aware of that and use that to guide your goals. If you are jealous of something that is a nudge to start working on a goal in that direction.
- Let’s put things in perspective. What about the family who actually has a really messy house? What about the family who can never go on vacation? What about the family I counseled with 13 children in a one bedroom apartment? They played with the hose!
- Remember that you are only seeing the highlight reel that people have chosen to share with you. You don’t see a lot of the not so great stuff. That is the challenge with social media. There are a lot of people who are not authentic and real. They show the smiling family picture, but they don’t tell you everyone was screaming seconds before. They may put on a smile and yet be battling major depression. We don’t know people’s stories behind closed doors.
- Focus on your own strengths. Everyone doesn’t have the same strengths. I just told my daughter Lillie that one person finds math to be easy but finds reading to be difficult. The next person loves to draw but struggles with math. I love to dance, but don’t have a good voice to sing.
- Start each day with gratitude. I wake up and instantly start thinking about everything that I am thankful for. It is a great way to start the day and put yourself in a great state.
- There is room for us all to succeed. I am the woman who wants to lift all of us up. I want you to succeed. I want to cheerlead for you. Celebrate everyone’s successes. Be that person.
I hope that this will help prevent you from falling into the comparison trap and will take you to a better place. We all have plenty to be thankful for and we all have goals to work on. Look for the themes of what you tend to compare yourself to and use that as fuel to build some new goals.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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