Growing through comparisons

Growing through comparisons

We’re empowered when we focus on growing our own strength, rather than being intimidated by the strength of others.

Growing into the habit of loving yourself (pre-requisite for living a fulfilling life) is a life-long experience; and a worthwhile one. One of the main behaviors that holds people back from stepping into their self love is comparing themselves to others – in a negative way.

We all compare, it’s human nature. The brain has a tendency to automatically compare whatever it experiences. “This movie is more interesting than that one.”, “The food was better last time.”, “They’re more attractive than I am.”, “I’m smarter than them because…”, “This view is nicer than the other.” and the list goes on. All day we do this on autopilot, making comparisons between objects, people, experiences, and thoughts. It’s like a program running in the background dictating our emotions and behaviors, and most of it goes unnoticed by us. Until we find ourselves in an unpleasant mood.

That program (driven by our core beliefs) and those moods behave like a feedback loop to our brain, informing our perceived experience of the world, and can leave us feeling unworthy, incompetent, discouraged, and/or ego-centric, big headed, non-empathic. And we can’t simultaneously live an uplifting life, while living in those dark emotions.

So, if we’re wired for comparison, yet comparison tends to make us feel less than great, what do we do about it?

It’s all about being aware of what we’re doing, and then actively choosing to do something different.

For example, you’re in an exercise class you’ve never taken before, and you’re excited about it. You’re saying to yourself “I’ve done yoga, I’m generally pretty coordinated. This looks challenging but I think I can do it!”. Class starts and you’re listening closely to the instructions, you’re eager to give this experience a shot, you’re buzzing with excitement to get going.

And then it gets kind of hard. And you realize that maybe those yoga classes didn’t really prepare your body for the strength needed to do this. And you look around and everyone else seems to be getting the hang of this just fine… and all of a sudden that excitement has turned into tiredness, and your eagerness into defeat.
“Everyone else can do this. That woman doesn’t look as fit as me and she’s doing this so easily. What is wrong with me?”

Does any of that sound familiar? Yeah, I’ve been there too. We all have in some way or another.

It’s pretty wild to recognize how quickly your entire mood can shift based on one comparison, isn’t it?

Now, back to what you can do about it!

Let’s return to our exercise class example:

You’ve just noticed that others are picking up this exercise seemingly with ease, and you start to question yourself internally.
Those negative thoughts start getting loud. 
You remember past experiences when you felt inadequate.
You consider giving up, heading to your nearest donut shop, and burying yourself in an obscure Netflix series. 

But instead (because you’re learning these practical and effective tips for self-love) you choose to notice the THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS, AND SENSATIONS that are happening within you – and you remember that you have the power to change them.

  • Thoughts: Find what it is about that person/behavior/accomplishment that you admire or wish for yourself.
    • Often when we feel lack in comparison to others, it’s because they posses something we want. When we can identify what that is,  we can use it to drive change within us.
  • Emotions: What positive emotions would you feel if you already possessed those qualities in yourself?
    • We’re quick to our feelings of unworthiness, anger, jealousy, fear, but when we focus on what it is we’d like to feel, or imagine we’d feel, we can direct our energy towards that positive emotion.
  • Sensations: What is happening with your body when you think and feel ‘less-than’. What happens with your body when you think and feel ‘as-if’ you already embodied those positive qualities?
    • Notice the actual physical changes in your posture, your facial expression, your breathing, and your gut feelings as you change your thoughts and emotions.

By the end of that internal check-in and change, you might think something like this:
Wow, I really admire that woman’s strength, she’s obviously found something she’s passionate about and practices it regularly. I bet she wasn’t always this strong though, she probably had to build up to it, that took persistence. How would I feel if I found an activity I really loved? Probably really good about myself, and it would feel easy and natural to dedicate time to practicing. Hmmm… I’ll try this exercise class a few times and decide if it’s really aligned with me. If so, I’ve got a great example of how strong I could eventually get. And if not, I can always find something else! 

And just like that you are free to enjoy the present moment.

We’re empowered when we focus on growing our own strength, rather than being intimidated by the strength of others.
The more we practice this skill, the better we reinforce setting new core beliefs that serve us.

Comparisons aren’t inherently bad, you can choose to use them in healthy ways. All that is required of you is to practice being the master of your mind one day at a time.

In health and happiness,

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Leilany has spent over a decade helping hundreds of individuals transform limiting behavioral patterns into purposeful living practices.
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I started working with Leilany when I was struggling with a stressful work situation and seeking more balance. She has a very genuine, caring nature and she gave me practical tools to help me navigate difficult circumstances in my life. I’m so grateful to have found her and highly recommended her work!

Gloria - San Diego