“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings
It seems like everywhere I look, I don't measure up.
I was giving a presentation recently and noticed that several people seemed bored or distracted. I looked around the room to gauge my audience’s response to something I said and found myself thinking, “Am I good enough? Am I providing what this group needs?”
Suddenly, I felt sure that another, more talented presenter would have done a better job.
Later, with a friend, casually flipping through old photos, we both lamented that we were younger and thinner in them. We chuckled and then we sighed. Still, I commented that I didn’t like how I looked in the photos, and she said that I looked great.
I started to dispute her out of habit. I thought I should look better somehow. Do you know that feeling? It seems as if I can’t be satisfied with how I look because I should be something more.
There are people all around me who are more talented, thinner, wealthier, happier, nicer, and luckier. You name it and there is someone who's got more of it or is better at it than me.
Ever feel that way?
And yet, our tendency is to continue to compare ourselves with others—over and over again. Demoralizing and useless as it is, we keep doing it. We're pretty much on autopilot at this point.
Why oh why do we engage in such a fruitless mental activity? Do we think it's going to make us feel better in some miraculous way? Do we think it's going to motivate us to excel?
What’s that mental comparison thing you do ever done for you?
Does it really motivate you to get going on your diet and exercise plan or your savings plan or your new career path? I didn't think so. I know it doesn't work that way for me.
I say, “Enough!”
Let's stop mentally assessing our worth by comparing it to others.
Think about it. What does your status, your value, your worth have to do with anyone else's? Really think about that.
In reality, what does my weight have to do with anyone else's? How is my net worth any different—in value—if I say it should be equal to or greater than someone else's? It's just not. Doing the mental comparison thing doesn't change a thing about me in reality.
I am what I am. Right now. And that's the reality.
I choose to value myself, just as I am. I choose to assess my worth based on my own unique individuality.
Here are a few simple steps to value yourself:
1. Embrace your individuality.
I am a unique individual. So are you. We all are. The next time you find that you're comparing yourself with someone else, remind yourself that “I am me and I'm proud of that.” You've got to let that sink in. You are your own person.
There's no one quite like you. Comparisons are irrelevant! How freeing is that? Add that to your mental repertoire: “I'm unique, so comparisons are irrelevant.”
2. Flip your focus.
When we're doing the mental comparison thing, we're focusing on what they have that we think we don't have.
Find something that you do have—a trait, a possession, a relationship, a value—that you can feel good about. This has nothing to do with the other person. This is about not comparing so there's no need to try to ‘one up' them in your mind.
For example, the next time I wish I had a big vacation house on the shore, I can remember: I may not have a vacation house, but I do have a loving family to share my time with.
If I find myself comparing my body to another person's (perhaps a celebrity or someone younger than me), I can flip my focus and remind myself of how well my body has served me all these years. I can remind myself of other positive traits—that I'm a generous friend, a loving partner, a talented cook, and a very funny person.
Flip your focus and remind yourself of all that you are instead of focusing on what you think you aren't.
That's right. Let's move away from devaluing ourselves and others. Choose to move away from feeling bad about yourself for not being like someone else.
Let’s celebrate ourselves and others for what and who we are. Let's be good enough, just as we are, and celebrate that. Share your gifts and talents. Compliment others in your life when you notice a positive trait or gift that you admire.
Look for the good in everyone, including yourself. Instead of always finding ways that we don't measure up, let's celebrate the things about ourselves and others that make us unique, that make us who we are.
Let's celebrate the fact that we're all different, and we all have something unique to contribute to this big, beautiful world, just as we are today.
What is one small thing you can do today to embrace your individuality and celebrate yourself, just as you are?
Photo by Lel4nd.