I can’t tell you the number of times since I started blogging that I have written a fantastic post and then literally days or even hours after I hit publish, I find myself reading something else on exactly the same subject, eloquent and engaging. And suddenly my post pales into insignificance.
I don’t have to tell you how rubbish it can feel. But it doesn’t have to.
The crux of the issue is the feelings that are raised; threat, jealousy, inferiority. I know I don’t have to feel like that anymore. I don’t have to succumb to comparison fever and I wanted to share my insights with you.
Even if you are not a writer, I’m sure you know the kind of feelings I speak of. We all have them, they are programmed into us by our childhoods, our society and even our built-in evolutionary survival mechanisms.
It could be choosing the perfect new coat or jacket and then seeing someone walking down the street in one that looks miles better than yours, and with much more style. You can never be the person you believe you should be. It could be not being able to get your child to sleep according to the prevailing social standards; be it in their cot, to a routine or without waking all night? You are failing at what you are supposed to know.
But in reality what has happened, or may happen? Nothing disastrous. Simply the perception that you appear to have failed when held up to other standards.
So what if you chose a coat and really owned it, strutting (well maybe only in your mind, but really you should) down the street regardless of what others wear. What if you parented in the way that felt right and you could think about options without feeling hemmed in by the thought of what others think?
And what if I wrote what I think and feel and felt proud of it for what it was, not what it wasn’t?
We all can do it but we need to let go of a few things along the way to enable us to reach that emotional nirvana.
We set up our lives based on comparisons to others; the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the car we drive, the home we live in, the job we have, the activities we do. In some senses any of the ‘free’ choices we make in our lives are not free at all, they are usually highly related to values that we put on ourselves and others.
But we can call ourselves out on this one. We know how much of a delusion it is that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It doesn’t work like that. Those comparisons are based on partial truths, hidden among the grass. One person’s ok or mediocre, is another’s perfect.
Inspiration and stimulus come from all around us and we can offer it to others. There is no right or wrong. Our light is our own, we can shine brightly. We must lead our own way and truly ‘own’ our lives. We are allowed to be different.
And in doing so we are not diminishing anyone else, we are not saying that other coats, parenting techniques, or posts are not good, just different. We don’t have to put ourselves on a pedestal and put others down, in fact I rather think we simply need to level the playing field in our minds.
We need to live the life that we should rather than pine after something we don’t have. It is about what we do not what we don’t do.
So when the negative thoughts and comparisons arise, we can delete them, these insidious memes that creep into our brains and take root, like ivy – very hard to get rid of.
You just have to use the right poison. These thoughts don’t like to be recognised and admitted to, they are weak when you counteract them. It is possible to do so, call them out and they will shrink away in your mind.
Everything you do, is to the best of your ability at that time. It may or may not exceed what others manage, but it is yours and yours alone. We should want to emulate others rather than copy them. Do you want to be a carbon copy? I didn’t think so.
The truth lies in valuing what do and what we want to achieve in our lives, having a good knowledge of ourselves and our life goals. Make time to set these and chase them, not someone else’s.
Ultimately, if you believe in yourself and your life, then others will too. Not the other way round. Don’t sabotage yourself by comparison.