I had a moment recently where I needed to stop and check-in with myself.
Amidst new and exciting opportunities, pursuing personal projects, work and living life, I found myself unconsciously being caught up in comparison.
As something I actively work on reformatting my brain to steer clear from, I’m met with mixed emotions; how did I not realize sooner that it was comparison at the root of my discomfort and anxiety? How can I be more gentle with myself when I slip into this old habit that we are conditioned to believe is a necessary part of life? How can I set myself up for success so it doesn’t happen again? And what immediate action do I need to do now?
I started where I always feel called when I have an idea spinning endlessly in my brain– to my words. I began to write. I opened a page, wrote the super non-glamorous title ‘brain dump’ at the top of the page and let it flow like a rickety old dam was bursting forth with the strength of the sea held back for years too long. It was like water entering a drought-filled land and my words were releasing life back into the place that was once left hollow.
Words have been my go-to for as long as I can remember. I used to write stories as a child and to let my imagination run wild, to give space to my anticipation of upcoming events, to bring magic to my summers at home and to write angsty song lyrics to piano melodies that fell to an audience of my own heart.
Turning once again to words came as no surprise to be the outlet I needed to work out what I was feeling. It was a tight-chest, watery-eyed, release the anger and frustration and every other emotion all in one brief moment of beautiful exhale of words on the page. In this moment, it became clear that comparison was the nasty root causing me to feel unsuccessful, a lack of momentum, not good enough, and like I should be ‘doing more’.
In this moment, it became clear that comparison was the nasty root causing me to feel unsuccessful, a lack of momentum, not good enough, and like I should be ‘doing more’.
Don’t we all feel that way from time to time?
We ingest social media where we applaud others for their gains while silently or subconsciously thinking every clap of applause removes one applaud we’ve ever received until we feel we were only worthy of the applause given out of force from our siblings at our childhood dance recitals.
We allow seeing others do incredibly well feel like they’ve taken all the good and left us the ‘just okay’.
And no matter how many times we tell ourselves ‘this is not the truth’ and no matter how many times we repeat to ourselves that we are all created to shine to light up the world and live out a unique purpose that only each of us can do, it’s the one second you don’t remind yourself of those truths that comparison can creep in and set you awry.
So how did I work through all the emotions? How did I answer those initial questions that came flooding in?
How did I not realize sooner that it was comparison at the root of my discomfort and anxiety?
Comparison is like a fruit fly. You don’t know where it came from or how it got there and suddenly they are EVERYWHERE and you’re setting up traps with rotting fruit and syrup in a jar with a paper funnel hoping you’ll wake up in the morning and they’ll all be gone. Comparison just creeps in and slowly starts eating away and you often don’t realize it. I was focused on other things that I wasn’t being conscious of what I was ingesting through social media and online. Being preoccupied and less mindful is how I didn’t realize it sooner.
How can I be more gentle with myself when I slip into this old habit that we are conditioned to believe is a necessary part of life?
Well, it’s as simple as doing that brain dump, taking a few deep breaths, and realizing life happens. I’m not perfect. I never claim to be. I can just as easily get caught up in old habits if I’m not making mindful decisions each and every single day with each and every action.
How can I set myself up for success so it doesn’t happen again?
Right now, for myself, I can honestly say that I need to be more conscious of my every day. Less Netflix, more inspiring podcasts. Less screen time and more reading. There are some days you just need a brain-off day and that form of self-care can mean Netflix binge and naps. But it’s important to remember the power of being conscious in what you are doing… those things we do ‘mindlessly’ still go in our brain so we need to be aware of what those are. While consciously ingesting social and all other media, and even the music we listen to, I am set up better to cheer others on while remaining true to my unique path.
And what immediate action do I need to do now?
After the brain dump (what a whimsical term, I know), I reminded myself of MY OWN TRUTHS. My journey is my own. I am doing my best and what I believe to be the path set before me by God. I’m listening to the Holy Spirit guiding me. I reminded myself of my own goals and timelines over the next 6 months. I reminded myself that the unique traits I have mean I don’t jump before I calculate the risk, I won’t execute if I can’t do it well, and I need to pray before making any and every decision. I am called as a daughter of the King to understand my path and my journey won’t look traditional– that it will be different and that comparing to others only does me damage– no one else. I don’t need that. I decided to write more consistently to get these thoughts out of my head so I can more easily make sense of them and notice when I’m beginning down a path I’d rather not be on, muted a few social media accounts, and pulled out books I want to read.
I am called as a daughter of the King to understand my path and my journey won’t look traditional– that it will be different and that comparing [my path] to others only does me damage– no one else. I don’t need that.
This is the work.
This is what is so rewarding.
Often the difference between the people you see crushing it without comparison are those who have done this hard work. They’ve worked through when it comes up and why and how to release comparison and stand in the truth of who they are. They spend less time consuming media and more time reading books, listening to podcasts, and focusing on the points that matter in the long haul (like, forever long haul) so they radiate from the outside in.
My theme for 2018 was Radiate.
I feel this recent comparison attack was a reminder to continue on with the work I set out to do. To continue to focus on Jesus and the unique path laid before me.
To do the inner work so it radiates from the outside in.
And, to be more vulnerable, because doing the work is hard. It requires getting messy with your past. It requires asking yourself ‘why?’ again and again and again until you get to the root so you can reform those subconscious beliefs into new truths rooted in something sweet, and safe and strong.
… doing the work is hard. It requires getting messy with your past. It requires asking yourself ‘why?’ again and again and again until you get to the root so you can reform those subconscious beliefs into new truths rooted in something sweet, and safe and strong.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Today I choose joy.
I choose to radiate.
I choose to continue doing the work.
I choose to refocus my attention on forever and how I can help others find their focus, their purpose, their passion, their faith, and live a life where they, too, can do the work to release themselves from what has been holding them back.