May 21, 2010

Coming Up Short? -- Break the Habit!

If you are anything like me, you often compare yourself to others. Unfortunately, I frequently seem to come up short. My house isn’t as clean, my children as well-behaved, my blog as cute, my hair as stylish, my body as thin—sound familiar?

The biggest problem with comparing is that we usually compare one of our weaknesses to another’s strengths. We may see a neighbor in church with eight perfectly groomed children all sitting reverently waiting for the meeting to start and invariably compare our own children who look like their hair hasn’t even seen a brush that morning. What you don’t know is that the woman left a messy kitchen at home with cereal and milk spilled on the floor, or that she feels inferior inside so she strives to look polished on the outside to hide those insecurities, or that she constantly fights with her husband and is secretly watching you and your spouse wishing she had the kind of relationship that you do.

So how do you break this negative habit of comparing yourself with others? Here are some useful tips:

• Become aware. Often we make these social comparisons without realizing we’re doing it. You need to become consciously aware of when you do this. Try this. You’ll be surprised how often you notice it.

• Stop and change focus. Once you realize you’re comparing yourself, pause, but don’t criticize yourself or feel bad—just acknowledge the thought, and gently change focus.

• Count your blessings. A better focus is on what you are already blessed with. Think about how lucky you are to have what you have, the unique talents you’ve been blessed with, and the people in your life who care about you.

• Focus on your strengths. Instead of looking at your weaknesses, ask yourself what your strengths are and be proud of them. Don’t brag, but feel good about your talents and work on using them to your best advantage.

• Be okay with imperfection. No one is perfect. We all know that, but still seem to strive for it anyway. You aren’t perfect and you never will be. I certainly am not, and I’m still working on being okay with that. If you look at it in a different way, that imperfection is what makes you who you are. Perfection would be boring!

• Don’t knock others down. Sometimes we try to criticize others just to make ourselves look or feel better. This is a destructive habit that, in the end, hurts you as well. Instead, try to be happy for them and learn from their successes.

Don’t focus on how you rank in comparison to others—life is not a competition. It’s a journey. We are all on a journey, to find something, to become something, to learn, to create something of our own. That journey has nothing to do with how well other people are doing, or what they have. It has everything to do with what you want to do, and where you want to go. That’s all you need to worry about. The only one you should compare yourself with is you.

No matter how many clothes you buy, or how skinny you get, or how many people follow your blog, or how many books you publish, or if your children are reverent at church . . . if you always want what others have, you will never have enough. That is an endless cycle that never leads to happiness.

Instead, learn to realize that what you have is already enough. If you have shelter over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, and people who love you, you are blessed. You have enough. You are enough. Be good with that, and you’ll find contentment.

9 comments:

Braden said...

That was a great post, Kimberly . I've been thinking a lot about one of your points--that we need to learn to be happy with what we have and who we are. There is no magical point at which we will be successful/righteous/thin/accomplished/rich/whatever enough to make us happy if we aren't already there intrinsically.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post. I have a bad habit of comparing my writing to others . . . and I always come up short.

MT said...

This is such a worthwhile reminder. Now, if only I could snap my fingers to make dinner as good as...oh wait. I'll go cook my ramen noodles now. I'll put peas in it and call it good. :)

Heather said...

Thanks so much for posting this and listing ways to help ourselves improve when we find ourselves comparing. I know I tend to do this a lot and it definitely doesn't help me... I often find myself resenting others and being extremely harsh on myself, so I will definitely try your hints and I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this weakness of mine :)
Thanks again!
Oh! And I love your blog! It's one of the ones I visit most :)

Keith Fisher said...

this is part of what I was gleaning from that book we talked about. Great blog, and good advice.

Julie Musil said...

Comparing ourselves to others is a tough habit to break, but worth the effort! Great post, thank you.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great post, and true. We all compare ourselves to others, using them as a yardstick. I shall keep at striving to be myself. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this post. We all need to be reminded of counting our blessings. I once read this article that said if there is something that you are complaining about, like having to do the dishes or irning. Stop and be thankful that you had food to eat to make the dishes and clothes to wear to do the irning.
Thanks again!!

The Box Lady said...

Great advice, Kim. Studying the lives of others can help us define the kind of individual we would like to become, but focusing on how we rank in comparison indeed brings heartache.

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