Comparisons – why do it?

So how are you doing?  Are you feeling excited about easing out of lockdown or are you a little worried?  My emotions are telling me that I’m probably in the latter category!!  Although I’m being sensible, I’m worried about a second spike in July and I’m finding myself riding that corona-coaster of emotions.  However, I’m using all my tools and skills to help me be resilient and focused on what I can do rather than worrying about what I can’t.

So a topic I’d like to talk about today is something I’ve noticed in myself during lockdown as well as observing it in some colleagues and clients.  It’s the subject of comparing ourselves to others.  I know it’s a natural thing to do, but when it becomes destructive, triggering a whole host of limiting beliefs, we need tools to manage it more effectively.  I noticed it happening to me when I had a bit more time to surf through social media.  Ah, the curse of having too much time on our hands, doesn’t it allow us to build stories about what we think is happening rather than what is actually happening?!!  I found myself reading what others were doing, layering one post on another about all the successes and then getting worried that I hadn’t even left the starting blocks in the new virtual world!  The more I read the more I became overwhelmed and the funny thing was that instead of spurring me on, it was as if I was stunned like the bunny in the headlights.  With limiting beliefs running wild, I was only able to see why my work wouldn’t translate into an online world rather than how good it could be.

Deep down, I knew I had the tools to manage this, so I started to withdraw from the ‘noise’ that was bringing about these negative thoughts, in much the same way that I’d stopped listening to the news in the early part of the pandemic.  And when I did start to focus on me a bit more, there were two things that helped me out of the rut, both stemming from my work with The Pacific Institute, TPI.  Firstly, my TPI colleagues, for whom I can’t thank enough, started running sessions on our curriculum which were fun and interactive.  If I told you I rode the edge of my comfort zone, it would be an understatement, but it made me realise that technology is just another medium and your knowledge and expertise, personality and empathy will always shine through because we’ll find a fun and innovative way to make it happen.

The second penny dropped when I was facilitating one of my two day workshops for TPI.  We were talking about affirmations which are statements of intentional acts to help you achieve your goals.  I was sharing the guidelines for writing affirmations and suddenly became hooked on one guideline in particular.  That of ‘no comparisons’.  It was like a bolt out of the blue.  In that moment, I realised the reason I’d been finding it so difficult to understand what I was going to do in the new ‘normal’ world was because I was comparing myself to others.  I could suddenly see that it was okay to observe them, even use some of their characteristics as role models but at the end of the day my focus had to be on me and not them.  I was building my future not theirs and what was working for them may not work for me.  So obvious eh?!

You’ll be pleased to know that this story has a happy ending!  Once my awareness had kicked in, it was so much easier to shut off the negative inner voice and get to work on setting my own personal and specific goals for the future.  I created some affirmations and then looked for opportunities to bring them to life.  I’m back in the swing of facilitating my workshops, but this time in a virtual world and the overall feedback has been amazing.  Hand on heart, there have been some really heart stopping technical glitches and huge lessons learned as it’s been a little like learning to facilitate all over again, but emotional intelligence can and does come to life on screen.  I have to say it’s also very nice to finish a two day programme and walk out into the garden at the end of the day instead of hitting the motorway!

So if my lessons resonate with you today, and you have been finding yourself comparing yourself to others, try the following to build up your levels of resilience:

  • Build and nurture your support network, it’s their empathy, kindness and challenge that will keep you buoyed. Remember it’s down to you to ask for help though as they don’t have a crystal ball!
  • Strengthen your positive inner voice by looking to the past and see where you’ve bounced back. Ask yourself, what helped you then and see how it can help you now.
  • Remain optimistic. If something goes wrong, learn from it and remember it’s a one off, it’s not going to affect everything else and it’s not permanent.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Set yourself a goal and then break it down into bitesize chunks.  If you want to make any comparisons, you will be able to compare where you are today in line with where you were yesterday!!
  • Write some affirmations for the new you and then look for the opportunities to make it happen because once you are mindful about what you want to achieve you will see plenty of chances to bring it to life.
  • Make sure you’re doing something you love each day whether that’s exercise, reading etc. We need to be kind to ourselves and have balance in our lives

I’ll leave you with a quote and this time I’ve chosen one from AA Milne as it made me smile and realise that we all have the answers within us if we look hard enough!

I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I have been.”

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