3 Quick Fixes When You're Caught in a Comparison Trap

A version of this blog first appeared on jessicalemmon.com

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You are one of a kind.

It's true. There is no one in the world like you. No one does things exactly the way you do them because they don't have your exact genetic makeup, your history (for better or worse), or your insight. Isn't it interesting that every one of us spends a lot of time, energy and effort trying to blend in with our community? That we quell our uniqueness and instead try and duplicate the success by those around us?

Now, hear me on this one. Inspiration is fine and dandy! Don't think you can't ever study someone's graphics, the way they write, how they sing, or how they make a schedule and learn something from it. We all start by mimicking someone else. That's how you learned to walk and talk. Someone else has been there/done that already and there's no reason to start from scratch if you really don't know where or how to start. But know this...

Everything you need is inside of you already.

Which means that once we start implementing someone else's methods, there should emerge your own unique twist and way of doing things. For example, you might buy a printable form to help with your plotting like this one, but you also might implement your own changes because your method differs from mine. I love those kinds of changes. The tweaks and customizations that make it our own unique thing when it actually started out as someone else's. It's not a weakness that you can't design or plot or sing exactly the same way as someone else. It's a revelation. You found a method within a method that's your own.

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Whenever you look at someone in your field and notice they are successful, what immediate thought follows?

Do you think to yourself "good for her!" or is it more like "I'll never be good enough to have that." Or are you a mix of both, feeling happy for your friend but then sad when you compare her journey to your own? As I type this I find myself cringing. I hate admitting that I've been on both sides of that coin. It's definitely not something I want to think when I hear a friend's good news, but this is where I'm learning to be gentle with myself. It's impossible to prevent that first thought from popping into my head, but guess what? It is completely possible to select the one after that.

It’s impossible to prevent that first thought from popping into your head, but it’s completely possible to select the one after that.
— Jessica Lemmon

Who inspires you?

Is she doing good things for the world?

Is she inspiring others?

Well, guess what.

SO ARE YOU.

Here's something to think about: You will always be in someone's rearview mirror, but someone will always be in yours as well.

There is no race.

Stay in your own lane.

Keep your eyes on your own paper.

💛 You were fearfully and wonderfully made to plant and harvest your own unique dream, not duplicate someone else's. When that niggling thought that you're not enough attacks, just remember that the people you admire most are in your life to INSPIRE your progress, not hinder it. 💛

You will always be in someone’s rearview mirror, but someone will always be in yours as well.
— Jessica Lemmon

THREE QUICK FIXES WHEN YOU'RE CAUGHT IN THE COMPARISON TRAP

1. Get off social media. Social media feeds those ugly thoughts and if you're feeling down already, that's not going to help matters. Shut down for a day, a week if you can. Visit that beautiful thing called the OUTDOORS and look around. There's a world beyond what's happening on your screen and it's glorious. 

2. Do something for someone else. Nothing fills your heart more than giving, and it doesn't have to be big. Buy flowers for your grandmother. Take a friend homemade soup for dinner. Drag your neighbor's trashcans from the end of the driveway to the house. If you're too introverted for any of these suggestions, try driving without road rage, letting someone in front of you in line at the post office, or paying for the car behind you at McDonald's. Focusing on someone other than yourself is the easiest way to fix a "woe is me" attitude.

3. Write down three things you've done that you're insanely proud of. Don't just jot them down and forget about them, though. Read them. Marinate on them. Relive the feelings of joy and happiness and satisfaction at your achievements. If you have trouble thinking of three things, think of one. And then schedule time in your life to celebrate what you do well. Life isn't about achieving until you collapse and then getting up and achieving again. The celebration, those moments of NOT striving to get ahead are just as important as the striving.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

Simple Health: Daily Practices

There are so many things we're told to do to stay healthy that lately I've been finding it difficult to corral them into one check-able box on my planner. We know we should drink 8 glasses of water and take our vitamins and exercise, but by the time I jot a list I have fifteen checkboxes and a headache. And I'm supposed to do this stuff everyday?!

To keep from getting overwhelmed, I've developed a system. I'm calling it Simple Health. Know why? 'Cause it ain't that hard, people. We just make it hard. I chunked the major good-for-you things to do into three checklist words. Now all you have to do is these three things to be a superstar. 

  1. Destress

  2. Eat

  3. Move

(1) Destress

PICK ONE EACH DAY.

Destressing is the most important part of your health and there are a million ways to do it. That's not the bad news--that's the good. If there is variety, that means that no matter when you read this, you have time to do one. 

  • Yoga. Even a 15-minute class on your iPad can have you on your way to better health. I recommend the Yoga Studio app since it's clean, quiet, and completely adaptable. This isn't an affiliate link, but an app I've used for so many years I've lost count. BONUS: Yoga can be done at home with relatively little equipment. I recommend a decent mat and if you don't have yoga blocks, a pillow or firm cushion would work fine.

  • Meditation. I'm fairly new to the meditation game, but I'll tell you this much: every time I do it, I feel better. And it's not weird and boring if you use a guide with someone talking you through the breaths. I'm a big fan of Kris Carr's albums since she offers a session as short as 3 minutes but never exceeding 15 minutes. Again, this isn't an affiliate just the program I use myself. Loving the new album as well!

  • Go outside. As a work-from-home writer, this is advice I need to heed for myself! Even in the cold, gray, dreary days, I never regret stepping outside for a lungful of crisp air. It's good for the dog, too, who's as content to stay indoors all day like her mom. ;)

  • Journal. Journaling, beit gratitude or prayer or simply charting how you are feeling for the day can be a great way to "leave it all on the page." Sometimes we don't know how we're feeling until it's in black and white. Want to vent your anger with someone? Write a letter you never send! I've done it and it's always therapeutic and years later when I find it, I remember feeling so in the moment angry but can't access those same feelings currently. It's a great reminder that most things don't matter enough to shackle yourself to them long-term.

(2) Eat

DO ALL EACH DAY.

The second category to pay attention to in your day-to-day happenings is what's going into your mouth. We don't think longterm about this very often, but it's so important to fuel yourself for your future health. Your stomach needs to be full, yes, but what about your gut? Where all your good bacteria live and thrive and fight to keep your immune system at peak performance.

  • Water. You know you need 8 glasses. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into your first glass in the a.m. before your morning coffee or tea, and drink the rest throughout the day. Buy an environmentally-sound Kleen Kanteen and refill throughout the day. Ditch the plastic bottles. They're no good for your health or the landfill situation.

  • Green. Did you eat your spinach today? Either nosh on a salad or blend some up in your smoothies Fresh spinach greens are tasteless when blended into a smoothie. To try: a few handfuls of spinach, frozen banana slices, peanut butter, almond milk, hemp seeds, and a dash of salt. (You won't be sorry!)

  • Probiotics. Mix 'em up every so often to keep your gut guessing. Check with your local health food store for the 411 on good brands.

  • Supplements. If you're doing everything above, you may not need to supplement everything everyday! One caveat: I take Vitamin D daily--we're all deficient. B12 keeps me in super shape as well. On those off days when my throat feels a little tickle, I take Vitamin C (one of those powdered immune-boosting packets works lovely) and Magnesium.

(3) Move

DO ONCE EACH DAY.

I know we covered walks and yoga, but I'm talking actual cardio and strength-building in this category. Again, it doesn't have to be strenuous or arduous. You don't have to sign up for a 60-minute spin class or take to the barbells like The Rock. What you do have to do is...

  • Set your alarm. First thing in the morning is the best way, if not the only way, to be sure you fit in your fitness before your day runs away with you. Especially if you put it off. *raises hand*

  • Have an end goal. Make sure it's not "lose ten pounds" though. Your mind is trained to find something if you lose it, so state your goal in the positive. GAIN muscle. ACHIEVE this many minutes on the stairclimber. BUILD endurance by knowing the goal will be reached in 2-3 months time.

  • See steps 1 & 2. Good habits have a tendency to breed other good habits (the same way bad habits lead to more bad), so focus on the good you're doing and just do your best! If you miss a day, fit in three minutes of arm work with small weights and call it a day. (Pinterest has tons of exercises that can be done in any amount of time.) If you still can't fit in this category, set your alarm for tomorrow and fill out your gratitude journal and start tomorrow fresh.

 

Simple health is just that. Simple. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to jot these into my planner. With checkboxes. 

One step at a time, you can be healthy!