“Comparison is the thief of joy”
I am sure you have heard that infamous one-liner.
We know it’s true… when we compare ourselves, our lives and our relationships to other people’s, we feel the joy inside of us shrink away until it’s all but evaporated.
But how does this work? How exactly does it “steal our joy”... and why does it even matter?
It's all got to do with GRATITUDE.
Brene Brown, in her groundbreaking work called “the gifts of imperfection”, details how practiced gratitude and joy are inexplicably connected. Meaning, if you want more JOY, you need to practice more gratitude…
Comparison on the other hand, is the opposite of gratitude - it’s actually the act of being UNGRATEFUL.
If gratitude nurtures joy and draws it nearer, comparison starves joy and pushes it farther away.
And how does gratitude nurture joy?
Well… think about how it works - gratitude is the art, practice or habit of expressing THANKS for the various gifts in our lives and circumstances.
Perhaps it is the very act of THANKSGIVING that takes a moment, circumstance, or even a material item and makes it possible for us to receive it as a treasure?
That is, until we are prepared to find something to be thankful for, we will not be able to receive the gift hiding beneath the surface of our circumstance.
This means that the opposite of comparison is gratitude.
If you are struggling with comparison, you won’t see any change to that habit (yes - learnt behavior) or change by getting or making yourself or your life better… you will change that habit by adopting a new one - and that habit is called GRATITUDE.
Hit the comments by sharing your own secrets and experiences with gratitude practices… what has helped and healed your comparison habit?
Mary* was gifted, accomplished and compassionate… and if anyone was a picture of someone called to make an impact in the lives of other people… it was her.
There was absolutely NO reason why she couldn’t be or wasn’t more successful… or so it seemed.
She was doing all the ‘right’ things… She was keeping up to date with all of the latest ways of marketing herself and her services and she was investing heavily into her professional development.
It made ZERO sense that she wasn’t further along than she was.
Until we started to scratch beneath the surface.
Behind the personal and professional development, behind the openness to learn from others (anyone really) was a gnawing sense of insecurity and inferiority… all thanks to comparison.
Mary was so open to learning from any and everyone she could because she was convinced that she could not trust herself to make decisions for her business and her coaching practice.
She always needed a second, third or forth opinion.
She always took forever to make a decision and in fact, the entire decision making process was agonizing for her.
She was constantly second guessing herself.
Mary’s business strategy was in a constant state of whip-lash. She jumped from one priority to the next, and from one strategy to the next...WHY?
Because she was CONSTANTLY focused on what other people were achieving and what she WASN’T achieving, and as a result she was CONSTANTLY reevaluating and adapting or changing her strategies in an attempt to duplicate the results other people were achieving.
Mary was a perfect example of how comparison erodes our ability to hear and trust ourselves and our intuition.
In part 1 of how comparison is robbing you blind, I shared with you how comparison always steals and stalls your progress. (link to blog post 1)
Today, I am going to show you how it erodes your self-trust.
When we get too attached to the lives and results of other people… when we COVET them… we tend to turn towards the ways in which we see them achieving these results and we begin to COVET that as well.
We start to believe that if we were somehow different, if we were somehow less like ourselves and more like them, if we did less of the things in our own unique way, and more like they did- we would have more of what they have.
The more we turn outward, the more confused we get (you’ll notice that success or achievement of goals can happen a number of different ways)...
And the more inconsistent our actions become…
And the more despondent we get…
And the more resentful we become…
Our confidence is slowly eroded…
The more we turn to others and what others are doing and who others are called to be… and the more we turn away from ourselves and our own intuition… we turn away from the very thing that makes us unique and powerful… the thing that, if we trusted it, would yield what we are seeking so desperately.
So how did Mary turn it around in the end?
She had to let go of what other people were doing/achieving and figure out what she wanted, where she was going and how she wanted to get there.
She had to learn to trust her own ideas - trust them enough to initiate them, and trust them enough to see them all the way to the end.
She had to learn to embrace failure or disappointment as a rich and beautiful learning opportunity, and not experience it as a measure of her worthiness as a human being.
Can you relate to Mary?
Many of us can.
Clients like her are exactly why I created The Momprenher Mentorship Program: a 6 week long online learning experience where women are given the tools they need to grow in their courage, confidence, and learn how to hear and trust their own intuition ---> all in a way that empowers them to step out of hustling for their worth, stay present to their own needs and the needs of their families, AND step up and into the success they’re craving as entrepreneurs.
It’s the heart-work that many of us need to do before we can get to the head and handiwork :)
If you’d like more info on this program, visit my website: https://laurendasilva.org/page/mom-pren-her-mentorship
We all do it. And by ALL I mean ALL… We ALL consciously and subconsciously measure ourselves against the people around us in order to figure out where and how we fit into the world.
I know that we know we do it on social media. I know that we know we do it at school; at our kids' schools and/or in our families (sibling rivalry anyone?)
I have done it all, in all the places… Surprisingly though, the area or season of my life that has taught be the most about comparison has been my time in pastoral ministry; and the season I am in right now… serving and growing a heart-centered and servant-hearted coaching practice for other heart-centered servant leaders :)
I remember when (and see how), in an effort to grow and expand the good things we saw God doing in our ministry - we would look over the fence to see what was happening in our neighbors “yard” and see how we stacked up.
We called it “looking for inspiration”, and maybe it was… but slowly but surely it turned into something way more insidious, and way less helpful… we were comparing, and it was stealing so much from us.
Many of us have no problem quoting this famous idiom:
“Comparison is the thief of joy” … I think we can all point to experiences that can confirm it.
My experience, and the experience of my clients points to comparison as a joy thief as just scratching the surface of what it takes from the hearts and lives that make room for it.
1. Comparison always steals & stalls your progress.
When we get stuck in comparison… one of the inevitable stories we start to tell ourselves is:
“I can’t do _______ because I don’t have ________ like (person we’re comparing ourselves to).”
In high school I was convinced I wasn’t as popular as she was because I didn’t have as much money or shop at the same stores she did.
In early adulthood I didn’t have friends because I was the sucker God had called into full-time ministry (unlike her).
In ministry our congregation wasn’t as big as theirs because we didn’t have the right lighting equipment like they did.
In entrepreneurship, I am not as successful as her because all of my children are always hanging all over me and are clearly not as angelic as hers are.
In a nutshell, it’s never my fault that I don’t have what I want, It’s the fault of whatever it is that I want, that has not been given to me by God, life or the universe.
Comparison stalls your progress because it takes the power and control of your progress right out of your hands and leaves it floating out there in outer space while you wait for some magical power, item or miscellaneous circumstance to arrive on your doorstep.
Unfortunately that’s not how it works.
In high school I wasn’t popular because I was a jerk who didn’t like or trust other people.
In early adulthood I didn't have friends because I didn't prioritize the ones I had and I expected them to take full responsibility for our relationships.
In ministry we didn’t have a bigger congregation because… I have no idea why but I can assure you it had nothing to do with lighting displays.
In entrepreneurship, I wasn’t (or don’t) experience the success I desire because I: a) allow my children to prioritize for me (and need better boundaries with them); b) am better at having great ideas than implementing and c) am actually afraid of success and tend to push it away (or run away from it screaming) when it gets too close to me.
Comparison stalls your progress because it tricks you into thinking that someone or something else is responsible for it, and that you are helpless until you get what they have.
… to be continued….
I actually did a short video training on this exact subject where I unpacked the 3 ways comparison steals from you…
You can catch the replay by joining: https://web.facebook.com/groups/831898147554776?_rdc=1&_rdr
It's happened at least twice in less than a week...
I woke up today feeling the same, except this time, rather than my own voice ringing it my ears - it was the chorus of the folks in the cheap seats or the background of my life, the people I barely (if ever) interact with, but whose opinion always seems to float to the very top of my awareness... mostly at those high stakes "crunch-time" moments.
I spent a good part of my morning rage cleaning at the frustration I felt within myself. Almost like I was trapped inside my own head, pleading my case against the verdicts handed down, lording over me.
I literally watched (or heard?) myself going back and forth with them - minutes (nearly an hour) passing as I contended for myself against an imaginary crew of faces and voices all accusing me of realizing some of my deepest, worst fears.
Then suddenly, a beautiful moment of clarity...
The rational part of me must have come back online, and after watching the mental ping-pong finally spoke up...
"hey Lauren - I am pretty sure you're asking the wrong questions, and focusing your energy on the wrong problem..."
***Insert hard blinking here***
"Who cares what they think? Is that even your responsibility to manage?
"No its not ..."
"All you can manage, the only thing you have complete control over, is whether or not you're in agreement with them, with those voices... the rest is completely out of your hands... and not even worth your time or energy."
First of all - welcome to my inner monologue. ( I feel like we know each other really well now).
Second of all... that little exchange that happened earlier is a variation of what I realized last week too.
"You're a failure"
They produce an intense emotional reaction which in me is usually ANGER - but beneath that are usually more vulnerable emotions like sadness, grief and fear.. anger just feels more powerful...
Which is interesting because what I need in that moment - is to reclaim responsibility for and power over my thoughts and the judgements I am making or agreeing with.
I think one of the most powerful boundaries we can draw is the one around ourself. The one where we limit the access the voices, opinions and judgements of others have to our thoughts.
When we draw strong boundaries around ourselves - we can create mechanisms by which we regulate or control who is allowed in, and who is allowed to take up space in our thoughts and our emotions.
This isn't the same as avoiding or suppressing them - thats not healthy or helpful.
Its actually the opposite. When we take full responsible for how we think and feel - rather than sit in blame or judgement over others for what we are experiencing - there is a much greater and more powerful incentive to steward them healthily and responsibly - because we know that the buck stops with us - we might as well get on with it and get the job done properly.
The past week has brought into sharp focus how my mental boundaries need an upgrade - I am letting too much in, I am allowing too much to stay, play and mess up what is mine to nurture and lovingly care for.
Some questions I have found are helpful in this process are:
- Who is making this judgement about me? Why do they have this kind of access to my thoughts? Are they worthy of the space they take up here?
- What is a more helpful/realistic/healthy and TRUE assessment/reflection of who I am?
- How am I pretending that what I think/feel isn't my responsibility to manage?
- If I could do one responsible/loving/healthy thing for my thought or emotional life right now, what would that be?
How about you? What are some helpful ways you clean up your mental messes?
If you're curious about what your boundaries style is, I have created a quick and easy quiz for you to take... find that right here: