“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton
Something struck me today as I was listening to a Canadian woman who had spent years helping out Haitians severely impacted by the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation. She was discussing how upset she was that recovery was taking so long for one family in particular. However, when the mother of the family, who was still living in a small shack with 7 other members spoke, she said, “You forget we are not you. We are happy because, right now, we are together.” It didn’t matter to the Haitian mother that they had no material possessions. What mattered to her was that they had each other.
Our culture is so focused on hierarchy, having more and competition. Most of us are affected by these on so many levels that we aren’t fully aware of the constant impact of it.
However, if you pay very close attention and observe your thought patterns, you will be surprised how often negative comparing statements slip in. It takes practice to not let them be a constant stream of negative chatter. And that practice requires discipline because comparing and judging are actually socially acceptable in many circles—sometimes even encouraged.
How can you begin to break a pattern of negative comparing? Here are some ways to go about it:
- Try doing positive comparing instead of negative comparing. Positive comparing is noting the positive changes you’ve made in your life such as handling a difficult person with much less reactivity, or when you feel a stab of jealousy or envy, turn the focus to the new things in your life that have real meaning for you. Track your growth and increased capacity when you are triggered by life’s circumstances.
- When you are judging, comparing and/or listening to someone else, do the same. Find ways to view everyone concerned with some rationality or acceptance (or in some cases, it might take some radical acceptance!). For example, if someone you know seems to have the “perfect” relationship, remember that no relationship is “perfect,” or perhaps accept your current relationship/relationship status by noticing the positive components of it.
- Here’s a surprising practice: watch your satisfaction or belief in being better than others. Although it’s much more comfortable feeling superior, it’s just the other side of the coin of feeling inferior. As the common sayings go, “pride goeth before a fall” , “what goes up must come down”, and “no man is an island”. All point to our interconnectedness and the up and down nature of life. Strive to remind yourself, you are inherently no worse and no better than any other person.
Here are few great quotes from the website Everyday Power, to keep in mind:
“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” – Unknown * “Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.”- Regina Brett * “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”—Eleanor Roosevelt * “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” – Coco Chanel * “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson * “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde * “You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.”- Oprah * “Don’t compare your beginnings to someone else’s middle.” – Tim Hiller * “Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.”- Fannie Flagg * “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou * “We’re only envious of those already doing what we were made to do. Envy is a giant, flashing arrow pointing us toward our destiny.” – Glennon Doyle Melton * “Focus on your journey, not the destination.” – Greg Anderson * “Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain