It is said that the hardest prison to break out of is one that you don’t even know exists. How can we break the ties that bind if we don’t even know they are there?
This week, I am going to help shed some light on one of those prisons many find themselves living in: The prison that is our view of ourselves.
Why are we SO DAMN HARD ON OURSELVES? Why do we relentlessly beat ourselves up, tell ourselves lies and keep ourselves down? The favorite weapon of choice here is usually in comparing ourselves unrealistically to others.
It’s known as “COMPARISONITIS”. And it’s eating away at the level of fulfillment and contentment in your life.
Social media feeds into our perceptions of other’s seemingly “easier” lives. We use it as ammunition to beat ourselves up for not creating a more perfect world for our children, our spouses or ourselves. We become victims of the things we should very much be proud of….our own unique identities. Comparisonitis is a prison all to familiar to most women.
We have a horrible tendency to look at other women and, instead of celebrating our differences, we say things like “Oh I wish I had her legs” or “I’m so poor compared to my friends” or “my vacations are lame compared to everyone else” or “I should be moving faster in my business by now.” We then tell ourselves that we are less-that in some way because we don’t match up perfectly to what we think is ideal or “normal.”
Another way we compare ourselves is by assuming we “just aren’t like that”. For example, you might be hesitant to join the “fancy” gym because you’ve told yourself that you aren’t elitist and don’t need the “fancy” things in life. Since you and your circle of friends make it a habit to judge or pity people who feel the need for such things, you feel you can’t check it out. What you’re really doing here…deep down…is comparing yourself to who you assume you would have to be to go to that gym. Your defense mechanism because snarky-ness, judgmental thinking and negativity.
Really imagine yourself in that situation for a moment….can you feel those negative vibes?
Here is what makes the act of comparing ourselves even more of a lose-lose situation: You will never win at comparing yourself. You have hardwired yourself to always look at yourself as less than, to only see your flaws and -conversely- see the beauty in everyone around you. It’s a rigged system that works really well to keep you from ever finding really joy and fulfillment in your life.
And what’s more is that comparison will always lead you to needing more and chasing something better. This further robs you of any enjoyment you could be getting from what you have right in front of you.
“I’ll be happier when I’m thinner.”
“I need to find a boyfriend/get married so I can be happy like my friends.”
“If I can just make $20,000 a year, I’ll finally have what I need to be happy.”
….and so on. This type of subtle comparison will gnaw away at you with it’s lies. Because the brutal truth is that getting those things won’t bring you happiness at all.
You will always find someone who’s life seems more interesting, who always looks better than you or who seems to be a better parent or more successful. Every time you’ll run down the rabbit hole of victimhood, and tell yourself your life is harder, that you are fatter, less exciting, less successful, less fashionable, less funny, etc. You’ll tell yourself that what you want just isn’t in the cards for you…and never even try! Those voices in your head will tap you on the shoulder and tell you to obsess over what makes you different. They will lead you to make life decisions -big and small- based on this skewed perception of yourself and everyone around you. You’ll miss out and feel bitter without knowing why.
To make it even more of an impossible game, we often compare our weaker traits to the things others have as strengths. “My friend is so tall and slender. She looks better, which makes me look worse.” Of course these aren’t conscious thoughts in our brains, but rather fleeting ideas that bubble up in the form of emotion, resulting in sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety and a shortened temper.
If your children talked to themselves and filled themselves with self doubt the way you do, what would you say? If your sweet, innocent little daughter came to you and said “Mommy, I don’t want to go to dance class anymore because my body doesn’t look like the other girls. I wish I had their bodies so I could fit in. I will never be a good dancer because I don’t look like other ballerinas.” What would you say? Knowing, as mothers do, that dance fills her heart with joy…how would you help her to love herself the way she is?
Your kids are watching you and much of that self-shaming behavior is learned from YOU! How can you help them through these self-torturing thoughts if you yourself aren’t willing to work through the issue of comparison yourself?
Today, I’m giving you a free downloadable worksheet on the Plowing Forward Facebook page. It’s got some questions that might be difficult for you to answer, but they are going to pull something out of you that you need to see; something you need to recognize and respect about yourself. Get yourself added to our Facebook community so you can get these worksheets every week.
Make sure to follow me on Facebook, too! I’m LIVE every Monday morning launching our topic of the week. Check out this week’s right here!
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Thanks for stopping by and until next time, keep Plowing Forward!