The truth is that everyone has their bad days.
We are all guilty of seeing the grass as greener on the other side. We look at other people’s lives and we compare ourselves to them on every level: their appearance, their relationships, their jobs, their fame.
There’s always going to be other people out their doing “better” than you. You can choose to see this as an indication of your failure or it can motivate you to grow and progress further in your endeavours.
But if you only measure yourself against external markers of success, chances are you’re never going to find peace.
It is all too easy to feel inadequate when you look outside of yourself and that is also a major problem with the “comparison game”. Yes of course we live in a capitalist, dog-eat-dog world and of course there are those who are going to rise to the top via sheer determination and grit but “the top”, which may appear to others as the pinnacle of success and happiness, may not bring with it the kind of psychological and emotional gratification that each of us needs.
So how do you deal with the fact that you are going to have those bad days when you compare yourself to others and come off short? How can you equip yourself psychologically to cope with the fall out that occurs when you achieve success but yet still feel empty inside? The thing is, whether you are successful or not, whether you have everything or not, and whether you compare yourself to others or not – the lessons are the same.
1. Believe in Yourself
Yes, it’s the title of an epic Journey song. But it is also the most important non-material resource in this world. Belief. Whether you’re training for that big marathon or you’re embarking on the challenge of being a new parent, you have to choose to believe in yourself and your abilities. A large part of this involves trust or faith. There will be moments when your mind is soaked in putrid doubt and it will feel like you are the most useless and unworthy person on the planet but please find your way back to believing in yourself.
This might involve setting yourself a few small challenges. For example, if you’re training for the marathon and you have a big LC (Loser Complex) day and you feel like you’re going to give up, then start by setting yourself daily, achievable goals. Once you complete these challenges, you will feel a sense of success and this will motivate you towards the end goal. If your “goal” is less structured and less specific, then you need to think outside of the box. Perhaps your goal is to stop comparing yourself to other people who you think are better looking than you. A challenge for you might be to write a Radical Self Love journal ala Gala Darling. It’s a small step but it will propel you out of that downward direction and up towards the light again.
2. Take Action
I don’t know about you but when I’m having one of those days, I feel like hiding out from the world and spending the day in bed. Or worse, I try and shut down my feelings by engaging in some or other time consuming and distracting activity. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having a night out with friends if that’s what is going to make you feel better because we all need to remember that we are loved and that we share this world with others who care about us and believe in us. But there comes a point where social activity is used as a procrastination technique or to anesthetise us from our feelings of inadequacy. In this way, it is not constructive and needs to be replaced by good old-fashioned hard work.
So if you’re feeling down in the dumps – get up, get out, and take action! Go promote yourself out there in the world. Go and meet people who can further your cause. Write To Do lists, tick off items, you know the drill! Not only will you actually feel some sense of achievement but energetically you are creating the reality you want. The thing about life is, the more you put in the more you get out.
3. Give yourself a break
So following on from steps 1 and 2, you’re obviously feeling better about yourself and you’re getting your ass into gear. But inevitably something is going to come up and you’re going to be left feeling lost and confused again. Perhaps you don’t get that call you’re waiting for or you miss out on an opportunity that someone else gets. Well that is life. Believe me, everyone has to face disappointment some of the time. I would love to write a post titled “How to win at everything in life and never feel sad and disappointed again” but realistically this would be like Coca Cola telling you their product is healthy and good for Diabetics. It just isn’t so I’m afraid.
So the point of all this is to find ways to be kinder to yourself during those moments when it doesn’t all work out swimmingly. Learn to take it easy on yourself and to find ways of allowing the moments of “failure” to be moments of recalibrating and refining. On any journey, it is important to stop to refuel and take a break. Life is no different. Give yourself permission to sit quietly and breathe. And then when you open your eyes, you’ll be ready to hit the road again!
4. Try to not compare yourself with others
It’s a tough one, believe me! I am guilty of this, as is almost everyone I know. To a degree it is natural to look across the way at your neighbour and to feel he/she has his/her shit together in ways you don’t. And to be honest there will probably always be those who appear prettier, younger, or more successful.
But appearances can be deceiving. Don’t get caught out by believing that other people’s relationships are better than yours because the truth is none of us really know what goes on behind closed doors. And don’t think that the beautiful girl at the bar has no problems because some of the most beautiful people in the world suffer from crippling self-doubt. We all have our doubts and our foibles, and WE are the only ones that have to live with them so try and remember that the next time you compare yourself to someone else.
The other trick I have for the “comparison game” is to remind yourself that the person you are observing is a three dimensional character and not just “the beautiful girl” or “the successful businessman” or whatever. As humans we all have had our share of suffering. If you can fill your heart with warmth and compassion for this other person, then the comparison game just falls away.
5. Be grateful
After all, it is Gratitude Wednesday. There will come a time when you realise that there are certain limits within yourself and with life. We all have to learn to accept our limitations and the limitations created by the world we live in. But this should not dissuade us off our chosen paths. It really is the good ol’ glass half full story again. When it comes to those bad days, it is so easy to focus on all the wrong in the world. It is easy to feel sad about one’s failing and disappointments. In fact it gets kind of addictive. But you’ve got to snap out of it.
One of the best ways to do this is to count your blessings. Physically sit down and make a list of all that you’re grateful for. So maybe you don’t have that dream job but you do have a wonderful, loving family. So maybe you’re not Blake Lively but you sure did kick ass in the boardroom today. Whatever it is that you can find, write it down. Stick it on post-its around the house. Make it your Facebook status. It won’t be long before you start to remember why your life is worth fighting for and why it’s worth getting up to start another day.