As we get deeper into May, lets all take advantage of Mental Health Awareness Month and commit to making a conscious effort to improving the quality of our lives by exposing and releasing a toxic habit we’re all guilty of: comparison. It is scary how sneaky this habit is and how it weaves through the mind in such a way that we hardly even notice it.
Here are the top three areas that comparison has personally torn me down and how I stopped letting it spoil my happiness and confidence.
I have always had a difficult time feeling beautiful because I never felt like my body met the “standards” of feminine beauty. It’s funny how many compliments get dismissed and the few negative comments:
- “If you weren’t so flat chested you would have a nice body”
- “Your skin gets too dark”
- “Eat more because you are looking too thin”
are given a VIP spot in your brain and they’re all you see when you look in the mirror.
Well, here is some something to consider that will make you realize that comparison is completely pointless.
You are new.
What if everyone realized and accepted we are a brand-new creation of this planet. How can you compare anything about you? You can’t, because you are completely unprecedented. The word “too” is a human construct that does not need to be utilized when discussing the similarities and differences between the physicality of people.
I’m too skinny, too fat, too dark, too pale compared to what?
If you ever hear that phrase being used against you, simply respond, “I’m new… you can’t compare anything to someone who is unprecedented.” And that goes for EVERYONE. If you are living a healthy lifestyle of which you are proud, who gives a damn if anyone sees you as unhealthily skinny or abnormally large.
Allow your body to be a direct representation of the beauty you feel inside. To do that, you must first focus on how you feel internally, or else your external expression will never be enough for you. Let people say and believe what they want. If you believe wholeheartedly you are the definition of beauty just as you are (and I mean genuinely, authentically believe it) then soon everyone else will be wondering how on earth they could have been so wrong. Not that their approval is what you need, because by the time they come around and start buying into your unshakable confidence, you’ll already be so engulfed in incredible opportunities and people who appreciate you, those doubtful people will no longer be offered a place in your life.
We make it far too easy for ourselves to feel inferior to the accomplishments and talents of others. One area where it is difficult for me to not to compare myself to others is in speaking Spanish. It is challenging for me, and I would beat myself up so harshly for not being able to keep up in conversation when I am around people who know Spanish fluently. It led to deeply engrained shame that made it even more difficult for me to learn the language:
It’s a vicious cycle.
I only recently started being more understanding of the fact that, yeah, I did not grow up speaking Spanish at home, so I obviously won’t be on the same level as my friends who spoke Spanish as their primary language in their household. It seems so obvious that would be the case and there’s no need to feel less than or “behind” because there are completely different variables at play in everyone’s lives, but I guess when you feel misunderstood by others it is easy to misunderstand yourself.
This feeling of envy isn’t reserved for people who want to see the downfall of others, even the most well-meaning people who genuinely root for the success of others will feel the sting of comparison when they see people crushing it in life. That’s what we all want for ourselves; to knock this life out of the park and do things that make ourselves and others proud.
Again, YOU ARE NEW.
No one on this earth has the same abilities as you, nor do you replicate the abilities of anyone else. Realize personal and professional growth is not a competition between you and the people who surround you, rather it is a communal journey every person is individually exploring alongside each other. Once you accept that as your new truth, you’ll be free to explore your own interests, skills and weaknesses without the fear you are “falling behind.”
Try to be gentle with the areas you struggle in and try to cultivate them without doing it from a place of insecurity and shame. It took me a long time to stop doing that and I still fall into that awful trap from time to time, but I’m making a conscious effort not to and that is the key. You have your own skill set that offers value to this world, focus on those when you feel the temptation to compare your abilities to those of others.
This one is a KILLER. I look back on countless nights of being simultaneously locked away in my room feeling so inadequate and lonely because I stupidly scrolled through my Instagram and Snapchat feed on a Friday night when I had no plans. All I needed to do was pull my attention away from the accumulation of people’s “highlight reels” and look up to see the value and beauty of what and who was around me.
No matter who you are, you are loved and appreciated even if your current solitude makes you believe otherwise.
Envying the friendships others share only strips your own friendships of nourishment. It is literally the most difficult thing to put in practice because we see other relationships thriving around us and we naturally want that same feeling for ourselves. That’s perfectly fine, just don’t let yourself question your own connections with people just because they may look different than what you see outside of your own bubble. Have fun with who you are around and enjoy the time you have by yourself. We are human and instinctually crave connection with others. That’s a good thing. Just don’t let social media or other outside influences turn that desire for relationship into a fear of loneliness and disconnection.
Make this May the month you expose your own habits of comparison and strip them of their power so you can be free to live as you please. Never accept anything less than the best for your own mental health because our minds are what make up our world, and that is a beautiful thing.
Thanks for reading,