There is no quicker way to make yourself feel like a bag of shit than to compare your life with someone else’s. I think the Buddha said that. Or Mariah Carey. Whatever. The point is, I do not believe truer words have ever been spoken.
We know we shouldn’t compare our lives to others, but sometimes, we just do.
Like when the whole world seems to be screaming ‘FIND YOUR PURPOSE’ and you quietly don’t feel like you’ve found yours, or you even have a purpose, and it’s making you feel kind of average.
Or when it seems everybody around you is falling in wild, crazy passionate love with each other while for you, sexual human contact is nothing but a far off memory of the yesteryears.
Sometimes we pick up the phone for an innocent browse of the social medias and wake up from a trance half an hour later, 5 years deep in a strangers Instagram and feeling like more of a failure with each new picture. Because we do not, like this-person-we-have-never-even-met-before, have a consistent morning yoga ritual and a successful business before we’re 25 or have a whole bunch of fun candid photos in cool edgy places an invisible human always seems to be able to snap at the right moment (where are these friends? Can I have one?)
So what do we do when we’ve fallen down the rabbit-hole of comparison? How do we claw our way out of it and remember how freaking magnificent we are?
1. Stop punishing yourself.
Sometimes after a comparison binge you can feel some residual guilt like, why did I do that to myself? What’s wrong with me? Firstly it’s important to remember that everyone does it at some stage or another. It’s a primal thing. We are hard-wired to want to know where we stand within a community, how we stack up against others. So blame your ancestors. You’re not inherently broken. Put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, and forgive yourself. Onward!
2.Get the f off social media… for a while
For a lot of us social media is how we connect and express ourselves and even promote our business. It is a world many of us now operate in daily and honestly, I’m grateful for it. But just like your after-work wine or even yoga or meditation- too much of something can become escapism or skewer your perception of reality, fast.
It is important to remind ourselves that even though social media is a world we operate in, it is a world that is usually highly distorted to make someone’s life appear cooler, happier, and more successful than it actually is. And I get it. Of course people want to post about the times their boyfriends and girlfriends are being magical and adventurous and romantic… and don’t want to post the times they low-key want to suffocate them with a pillow. Of course people want to share the nice big sparkly moments of their career, and not the times they don’t get the job, their project doesn’t work out, or a business partnership dissolves. Repeat after me: observing the lives of others through social media must always be taken with a grain of salt. And regular digital breaks.
3. Look at what you already have in your life. No, really look at it.
I regularly get cold sores on my lip after they get sunburnt. And each time I get the dreaded tingle that announces their arrival, like an air-siren in those old-school war movies, I think ‘damn, I really wish I’d appreciated my lips when they didn’t have this pimply, herpe-fied mess crawling across them like a plague.’ But when my lips return to normal, and people have stopped staring at me on the street like aliens have invaded my face, I forget all about it. I never stop to appreciate my non-cold sore lips.
I feel like we kind of treat a lot of things in our life like post-cold sore lips. We just take them for granted, like they were always like that. We can work so hard to get a job, but then when we get it, we’ve got it, the desire disappears, so our focus drifts to the next thing we feel like we need to make our lives better. But what if we routinely stopped to look at the things we already have? What have you already got now? Chances are, you have a whole bunch of cool experiences, relationships, projects, achievements, stories, things you’ve created in your life that others would kill for.
You’ll quickly find you have, and have done, a lot more than you think you had. That actually your own life is pretty rad, and you wouldn’t trade it up for anyone else’s.
4. Remind yourself: what you have to give to the world is unique to you, and it carries it’s own vibration.
My job requires me to be fairly dialed-in to the online community of writers, creatives, mentors, entrepreneurs and changemakers. And what I tend to see is a whole lot of people copying, imitating, and repurposing stuff from others. True, nothing is truly ‘original’ and many experiences are universal (as in, if you feel some certain way you can guarantee millions have felt that way before you). But I feel like a lot of people just want to follow what they’ve seen work for someone else, and follow it to a tee. Which kind of sucks, because the person doing this is just selling themselves short. They’re pushing away their own creativity, ideas, experiences and resources to model their lives after someone else. And this never works.
You can tell when someone is working with their own creativity, inspiration and divine collaboration… and when someone is just repurposing from someone else. There’s a vibration to it. One is delivered to the world alive, pulsing, breathing, raising the hair on the back of people’s arms. The other one kind of flops into the world, still breathing but recycled, kind of grey, kind of tired, lacking that certain life-force vitality. People can pick up on that. Even if they don’t know they’re picking up on it, they are.
This will happen if you just follow the crowd in your creative work, your life choices, or what you have seen to work with others. This is why it is useless comparing yourself to what someone else in your field has done, and the way their work was received.
Think about what you have to offer the world that is uniquely you. An accumulation of where you grew up, who your parents are, what life experiences you’ve had, what you feel your purpose is on this earth, what things keep you up at night. And exist from that place.
What do you have to give the world? If you had to paint your own life from the contents of your inner world, your deeper knowing, your soul, what would it look like? Go from there.
So whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, please remember the following:
- The world needs what you’ve got, not just another person recycling the work or lifestyle of someone else.
- Schedule regular social media breaks
- From time to time to view everything in your life like a post-cold sore lip.
Feature Image: Genevieve LeSieur