Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU
(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
Although the song, written by Prince and sung by Sinead O’Connor, was one of my favorites, this article's headline is not in reference to it.
Rather, I am talking about self-comparison.
Since we were young, we have experienced social measurements and the tipping of the scales. I can still remember one of my public school teachers, parading a student’s journal around the room for us all to look at. His printing was not very neat and difficult to read, she had exclaimed to all of us, as she walked by our desks. The student whose work she was shaming, sat defeated and judged. This was followed by the exhibition of another student’s cursive writing expertise, that didn’t even look real it was so perfect. As the teacher displayed the contrasting work, we all internally decided where we fell on the comparison ladder between the one humiliated student and the other, gloating.
We all do it. Some of us, more than others. We look at what others are doing, saying, living and representing and compare it to our own life and wish we had what they had. Or, alternatively, we scoff at what they are doing, saying, living and representing and we judge them, and see ourselves as better.
One makes us feel bad and the other makes us feel superior but neither makes us happy. By comparing ourselves to anything but ourselves in this present moment, we are misguided and we lose ability to live an authentically content life.
The thing about comparison is that there is never a true winner. It creates the illusion of competition with each other, when in reality, we are unique and incomparable. When we use comparing and competing with others, as a measurement of our own happiness, there will always be a perceived winner and a perceived loser.
How often do we compare ourselves with someone less fortunate than us and consider ourselves blessed? More often, we compare ourselves with someone who we perceive as being, having, or doing more. And this just leaves us coming up short.
When we let our minds and thoughts control us, rather that living mindfully and subsequently choosing our thoughts and feelings, we can fall into the trap of walking around the classroom, so to speak. We are left judging where we fit in relationship to the messy printer and the perfect cursive writer.
The unmindful self wants to rank, file and organize information by comparing and competing, even with ourselves. The unleashed mind wants to know where we belong in the scheme of things, leaving an anticipated victor and/or failure.
Oddly, in the joy stealing game of comparison, we often take our weakest recognized trait and match it to another’s strength. Comparing your vulnerability to another’s vitality is a happiness-sucker with no positive outcome. Even if you compare strength to strength, there will always be those who are better, and those who are worse.
If you constantly want what others have, you will never have enough. You will always want more. That’s an endless cycle, and it will never lead to happiness. We can even see this when we take up the task of comparing ourselves, to ourselves.
Perhaps a year ago you were at a certain place. Circumstances have occurred that have led you to be different situation. If you were to compare and judge with a verdict, that you are not as “good” as you used to be, that would leave you with a very defeating affirmation. In fact, it might be followed up with some negative and insulting internal self-dialogue. But if you were mindful and honoring of this moment, exactly as it is, you would be able to observe your current situation without judgement.
When we nurture awareness and acceptance of present realities, we can move with loving observation of the current situation, toward authentic action to where we want to be, leaving comparisons, competition and judgement out of the equation. You cannot live peacefully and contently by judging and shaming yourself into what you want. When we can surrender by fully accepting, we take a step towards peace.
“To love is to stop comparing.” – Bernard Grasset
It is difficult if not impossible to manifest what we want into our world, when we think and feel and visualize what we don’t want. Rather than focusing on the lack of what you don’t have but desire, let go of comparing and judging and start visualizing what you truly desire and how it would feel if it were already manifested. Not only does it feel better to do this, it will create a better result through the law of attraction.
The fact is, that our perceived conclusions of others can be inaccurate. The observed perfection or deficiency of another, can be an illusion. Perhaps the rich person is poor in love. Maybe the assumed unhappy “poor” person is living a state of perfect bliss. You might look at someone that inspires you, not knowing that to get to where they are, they lived through hell. If we knew others’ whole truths (and not just what they tell us or what we assume), we might not feel so inadequate or superior. We don’t know the whole story.
The point is, when we compare ourselves to others and judge them, wishing they would do whatever we think would make their life better (get a job, lose weight, quit smoking, not be with this person, insert your own comparison/judgement), we don’t feel happiness. We can feel pity, frustration or even disgust. These feelings don’t provide joy.
When we compare ourselves to others and judge ourselves, wishing we would do whatever we think would make our life as happy as theirs, we don’t feel joy. We can feel victimized, lack, self-disgust and resentment. These feelings don’t provide us with happiness either.
Instead of comparing, give yourself permission to observe only. When we are witnessing a situation with non-judgment, we let go of conclusions and attached feelings. Imagine it much like a scientist just observing the facts. Bring more consciousness and intention to observing only. If you catch yourself comparing, acknowledge the thought, and gently change focus.
Bring the focus to back to you. Focus on your strengths, bring gratitude to your blessings and love yourself. Be okay with your imperfections and accept your perceived weaknesses. Everyone has weakness and no one is perfect. By mindfully focusing on your thoughts, feelings and desires you manifest more of what makes you happy and joyful.
I am reminded of my high school year book and beside my graduation picture, I had chosen this quote: “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there, except those that sang best.”- Henry Van Dyke
Remember, we are each unique and so we should be. How odd would it be if we all looked and acted the same and had the same abilities, jobs and possessions, families and so on? You are exclusive and no one compares to you. Focus on being the best version you and let other people, do the same.
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