This time of year, it becomes really easy to start comparing our lives to others’. We all have our new goals (or intentions) started for the New Year. And they (especially our health goals) are being tracked and shared with our communities. The common goals are health and fitness. We aspire to look like Jessica Alba (work out 3-5x a week), meal plan like our coworker (learn how to cook), manifest a romantic relationship like Michelle Obama (learn how to be a celebrity), travel more like that one lady we saw on Instagram (make more money), and manage a financial budget like our co-worker in accounting (learn math).
So where do these “goals” come from? Well, they are often derived from our observations of others. We see other people living bright and colorful lives, and we want it. We believe that everyone else around us has their shit together (thanks social media). And we are just a mess. We think we need to get our life together on the outside, or we won’t be seen as successful, worthy, or lovable. What a set-up! If we don’t do the laundry list of things we set out to do, we’re a failure? This negative self-image can lead to seeking validation through comparing our lives and judging others. “Well at least I’m not as big as them.” “At least I have my life together more than him.” “I’m definitely prettier than her.” We compare jobs, bodies, meal plans, kids, accomplishments, and on and on. There is no shame in wanting to be and feel happy. But comparing our lives to others is not how to attain it.
Comparing also does not equate successful goal setting. Instead we become possessed by our “faults” and where we are falling short. We feel like we have to justify ourselves. We blame others. We lead with excuses. We also start using the phrase, “My life would be so much easier/better if (fill in the blank).” This statement assumes that your life is no good as is. You would be happier if you had her physique, or his income, or their lives. And although it seems like this would be the case, the grass is no greener over there than it is right here.
Trying to live in someone else’s shoes prevents growth. We have to start working on getting comfortable with our reality. Out of this comfort comes the ability to manifest achievable and healthy goals. So how do we break the cycle of comparing and move towards comfort?
- We first need to tap into our center, way of being, self (at least in this moment in time). Shifting our awareness inside through meditation, mindfulness exercises, and grounding practices can help make this shift. Therapy can also help with this process.
- Take a break from social media! Just do it.
- Connect with close friends and safe family. Spending time with people who support and love us, allows us to cultivate authenticity and deepen our connection with ourselves.
- Integrate self-care into your daily routine. When we’re taking care of ourselves, we are more at peace with the person we are. We’re not lashing out or self-medicating. This leads to less embarrassment and more self-confidence.
- Declutter. Purge people and things that dim and limit you. That could be a toxic relationship or your “goal jeans.” Doing the first recommendation in this list will help in evaluating who and what those things are.
- Practice active listening. When we are involved in a conversation, there is a tendency to be more focused on what we are going to say next or how their experience compares with our own. But when we practice active listening, and are present with others and their stories, the need to compare diminishes. This is their experience, not ours.
These are just a few options to try out. Some may work, others may fail. Ultimately, we need to discover what works best for us (and that’s with every facet of our lives). And what “works” is most likely going to change as we evolve. And what works for us may not work for some of the people we idolize. So, start your year by decreasing your tendency to compare. Become aware of when you do it the most (usually when we’re feeling the most insecure). And most importantly, breath, live, and eat compassion and self-love. We are all just doing the best we can, including you.