What to do instead of comparing yourself to others

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

Many of us have heard Theodore Roosevelt’s quote “comparison is the thief of joy.” But in a land where we are surrounded by perfected images, fear-based narratives and push based marketing strategies it can be easy to fall into habits of comparison.

Last week I joined Fieldtrip faculty and ran a 45-minute session on meeting your edge walker and ally.  I loved it. I got to meet new people and was lucky enough to attend the other sessions. Looking back, I am a little embarrassed to say that I nearly said no to this opportunity. I didn’t know the other faculty and a part of me was anxious – what would I do, would I be as cool as they seemed to be?

Each session was focused on the same topic, The Edge.  The edge is that place where we stand and look into the abyss and have the option to choose to jump to the land of the unknown or stay safe in the land of the known.   Just saying yes and following my initial excitement and urge to jump in without over thinking it was an act of crossing my own edge.

The Edge

My tendency at my edge is to compare myself to others. My edge figure is a prim head teacher who fiercely guards the perimeter of my comfort zone.  She chastens me to wait to be selected rather than lead.  She reminds me that rejection is painful and advises that practice makes perfect.  She encourages me to compare myself to others and see how I stack up before jumping in. I am very familiar with this figure and in the past, I would often succumb to her encouragement to hold back and try and perfect myself. But I know that it’s in this place that my disappointed dreams live.  The ones where I listened to her and couldn’t find my courage, so I held back waiting and holding on, watching those dreams fade.

What I learnt from saying yes was that we all have the capacity to get in our own way, but we do all have our own medicine inside us. What I know to be true on the other side of my edge is that each faculty member had their own rhythm, style and flavour. Even though the topic was the same for all of us, each person’s unique essence made every session poignant in different ways. Some brought depth and wonder, inviting huge questions that took you to a land of imagination.  Others brought humour and play taking you to the edges of your own frontiers. And some brought presence and warmth, inviting you inwards – home inside you.

It was a beautiful reminder to me that fear is natural, but comparisons lead to feelings of superiority or inferiority. When I was first invited to join this round of Fieldtrip my edge figure whispered those fears. She wanted me to check everyone else out first to see if I was up to the challenge. Fortunately, my ally was stronger than my edge figure.  She’s my star guide that reminds me to breathe, lean into my shamanic practices and name the emotion for what it is- fear – plain and simple. She catches me in the act of comparison and soothes me reminding me of my own true essence and enoughness.  She gives me permission to be playful, messy and human.

In this place I am reminded that we all have beauty and magic within us.  We all have our own unique ways of being and that if we do dare to jump, we can create wonderful experiences.

Top Tips

If you notice when you’re at an edge that you compare yourself to others and either puff yourself up or put yourself down, I highly recommend the following steps:

  1. Simply notice who is talking and be curious what need they are meeting in you. For example, my edge figure thinks she is keeping me safe from rejection.
  2. Observe your edge figure’s persona: how they speak, what they say, how do they move and what they don’t say. Get wildly curious about what kind of character they are.
  3. Remind yourself that your dreams come from your imagination and as such you have every right to pursue them.
  4. Create an internal ally that will support you and take a stance for your courage. Imagine what kind of being this would be and what kind of fresh, positive energy they would bring that would soothe your fear and nurture your courage.
  5. The next time you are at your edge, consciously decide who you will turn towards. Remember, your edge figure will support your status quo; your ally will encourage you to leap, dare, stretch and grow.

PS If Fieldtrip is something that tickles your fancy here’s a link to sign up for their next complimentary event.