Comparison is the thief of joy.
I went to the gym last night. I’ve been out of that world for the last 6 years. I quit as soon as we said “I do”, after working out like a fiend for the year leading up to the wedding.
I get so anxious during the drive to the gym.
The gym is usually completely empty when my hubby goes by himself, but when I go everyone decides to show up. *sigh* I like to hang out by myself in the small room and take virtual classes. There's no one in there to watch me.
So... I was in my little room workin’ my bicep curls, struggling with my 5-pound weights, and She walks in. Miss California 2016. Her body was bangin’ and instantly my shoulders slumped and my heart sunk to my stomach. Oh great! She proceeded to do squats with 40-pound weights on a Bosu ball… a move that would surely land me flat on my face.
I wanted to sit in the car until the hubby finished his workout.
I even did that self-deprecating move where I told her how I could never do what she was doing, to which she replied, "We all have to start somewhere." She was right, but somehow I didn't feel any better.
I was so close to leaving!! Instead, I conjured up a little bit of confidence and continued on with my workout. After my abs and arms were sufficiently weak, I headed to the treadmill for a little cardio. After about 5 minutes working my way up to a fast walk (I don’t run), guess who saunters up to the elliptical next to me? Oh yes… it was her. Son of a!!! While I was holding onto the treadmill for dear life, she was practically doing acrobatics going from the elliptical to the Stairmaster. What the hell?! Quit showing me up, Woman!
But it wasn’t about her, it was about me… she didn't care about what I was doing. I was too in my own head.
So I began to wonder why we constantly compare ourselves to other people? Will we ever be happy just being ourselves in our own little package? More importantly... How do we change our inner dialogue so our kids aren't plagued with the same thoughts?
There's nothing like having kids to make you take a serious look at yourself.
So how do we change this negative self talk? How do we begin to value ourselves, irrespective of other people? First, we have to address where these feelings come from.
I had a conversation with one of my best friends, who just happens to be an amazing therapist, about why we compare ourselves to others. He said it is an "internal approval seeking since we don't pursue it from our parents as adults." Ironically, he says, "It's a shitty pursuit of validation since we're not supposed to all be the same."
Comparing yourself to others can take form in all areas of life... health and fitness, business, starting a family, school accolades, and don't forget about motherhood. We addressed that monster last time. The list is endless. So many areas we use to calculate our value. It has to stop!
As my friend says, "It's hard to excavate the internal parent." Let's try, shall we?
1. Everyone has their own journey. I know that sounds like a roll-your-eyes quote on an Oprah special, but stay with me. Once you start judging one aspect of your life, what's to stop you from taking apart every other piece of your life and putting it side by side with someone else's?
At the end of that downward spiral is an endless pit of need and disappointment. What an awful life!
But I've been there many times. When I started painting I compared my art with artists I followed, and would get so discouraged when I couldn't produce their talent. Many of these women had practiced their craft EVERY DAY FOR OVER 20 YEARS!! I had only begun months earlier... why would I be anywhere near them?! I didn't see it that way. I wanted instant gratification.
I find myself doing it now in business. I follow an amazing group of mommy entrepreneurs, and often feel envious of their striving businesses. Many of these women have been doing business for years, and after many failed attempts are finally climbing out of the muck to find some real success.
I want all of the good after putting in little work. Not exactly realistic, right?
2. You have no idea what their life looks life behind their accomplishments. Miss America 2016 could be struggling to keep a job, filing for bankruptcy, and sleeping on her mother's sofa. The gym could be her only solace. You can't ever know someone's entire story, so don't judge yourself on the little snippet you see.
The reason why we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else's highlight reel.
- Steven Furtick
3. Make a conscious effort to take notice when these feelings arise and then change your inner monologue. When Miss America sauntered up to the elliptical (after I thought I shook her), my shoulders slumped and I felt like a failure. Instead of staying in that "woe is me" mode, I told myself "your journey has only begun, and she's probably been on hers for years." I turned up my headphones (which was playing old school rap, of course), pulled my shoulders back, and kept on walking.
Those negative feelings WILL come up, but don't let them fester!
4. Role models have their place, but don't turn them into frenemies. I have many role models... in business, fitness, and life in general. Role Models can give you something to strive for, someone to confide in, and can guide you in your journey. Just don't let admiration turn into jealousy. Celebrate their success, let them push you to do better, but don't let their lives be a constant barometer for your own.
Your wins deserve the spotlight, so show them some love no matter how small you think they are.
5. Be realistic with your goals and how long it will take to achieve them. I took a business class from one of my mentors, and at the end of the class I had a long list of "to do's". I couldn't get to them all during the 8 week course. In fact, it took me a full year to get through my "to do's" for the 1st lesson. This class was intense! The instructor warned it might take YEARS to complete, even if I wasn't a mother of two with a full time job, selling a house, and buying a new one.
6. Track your progress. That long to do list from my business class is hanging on my wall in my studio. You better believe I get a huge boost when I cross something off with a big black sharpie.
Do you have fit goals? Track your measurements, lifting milestones, and pictures. (Notice I didn't say weight?) Check them out every month or two (not every week!!) for a realistic view of your progress.
7. Don't complain about your progress if you're not willing to follow through. It might be hard to hear, but it needs to be said. I couldn't be disappointed about my slow growth because I didn't want to put in the time to speed it up. Notice I said "didn't" and not "couldn't". I could have stayed up until 3am every night building my business, and I probably would have seen a faster increase in sales. We are always willing to put in the effort to things that are most important. At this time, raising two little girls, soaking up family time, and getting some decent sleep is more important than my Etsy sales. When my kids are older, and I have my mornings free, I will devote more time to the biz, but for now I'm content with where I am... finding stitches of time, and having slow organic growth.
8. Be kind to yourself. Above all else, you have to be ok with who you are and where you are in your life. You can strive for more, but don't beat yourself up for not being there, yet. You don't have to have everything all at once. Be content with who you are right now.
Your speed doesn't matter. Forward is forward.
Sending you lots of love and a nap.