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