It’s the whisper in that cramped part of your mind that tells you that you’re not going hard enough.
You’re not strong enough.
You’re not smart enough.
You’re not charismatic enough.
You’re not enough.
You monitor these thoughts and chew on their meaning; but you never really question their origin. When you look in the mirror and you don’t see a reflection of the person you feel “has it all” you become disappointed. Then you lie and say this isn’t the truth.
But there’s something stealing your joy.
The truth is, many of us overlook all the things we’ve accomplished for all the things we’ve yet to; and we constantly feel inadequate at the sight of others living out our ideas of what success means.
In my own life, I was comparing my abilities and mile markers of success to those in a similar race. I set myself up for failure trying to compete when my race was similar yet different.
My competition wasn’t the living manifestation of my ideas of success; it was only myself.
The answer wasn’t as simple as “God made you unique and your path is different” the truth in that didn’t deter my mind from racing to keep up with my own personal version of the joneses.
I found myself in a cycle of comparison that looked and felt different from the cliche one I was use to. When we speak on comparing ourselves to others we identify it in very obvious ways; but it’s the subtle ways that we ignore as we get caught up in this problematic mental trap.
In my personal experiences, I had successfully outsmarted myself by treating the symptoms of comparison and blinded myself to the root. On the surface I can congratulate and support in a genuine manner only to find myself rapidly trying to hit the the same mile stone another just breezed past.
The voices in my head shoot back at each between…
“Why aren’t you there yet?”
“It’s not your time yet.”
There were times where the visual of someone else’s success would kickstart a relentless effort to “catch up” all while hiding behind the mask of “creativity, energy, and grinding it out.”
Had I even been enjoying my labor or the fruits of it or was I just focused on production as a result of comparison?
I didn’t know that my constant consumption of those within my network was also cause for my feelings of inadequacy. To be a creative means to curate lanes of inspiration often in social groups. But were the sources of my inspiration also the root of my competitive mindset.
How many times have I scrolled on the socials proud, inspired, and then eventually thrown into a spirit of comparison.
I decided that social media consumption was the problem and not my mindset. So, social media and social meeting breaks were often put into place to curve my internal emotions. They were only a temporary fix.
It is smart to curate a social media that inspires and rejuvenates while also realizing the ways it effects mental health when used. Social media was an avenue for networking and a vehicle to drive my brand forward but the more I felt compelled to create content constantly; the less I felt connected to my work. This was in part because I was trying to stay relevant.
The focus on staying relevant was code for “keeping up” and competition in this small way slowly crept into the places that were meant to be outlets and inspiration.
Smart business advice like staying social, always creating, and staying relevant was making for a miserable experience because my mind hadn’t blocked the seed of competition that had been planted through this coded, savvy language.
While social media consumption played a part; it was my mental that needed adjusting.
My Mindset was the Culprit
Comparison isn’t always about jealousy as most believe but about longing for something you feel is outside of your reach but at the fingertips of another.
The pill that I needed to swallow was this, there will be some people who reach your idea of success before you do. In those times you will have to decide what’s more important; learning or comparing.
The mentality that I had to find my level of success all on my own not only kept me stuck at my current level but sullied the progress I had made because I wasn’t satisfied. This obsession with “gettin out the mud” all so we can reach the top to proclaim nobody helped us is absurd and harmful to only us. Learning to ask for help when I needed it has transformed my journey. Learning from those who reach new levels and not allowing pride to prohibit those lessons has also been extremely beneficial.
Run YOUR Race
I know there are others who look at me and compare in the same ways I do so to others; and that the ones I compare myself to compare themselves to someone else. Breaking this cycle must start with truth.
You cannot run in a straight line focused on too many of your surroundings; no seriously, go try it.
You can always move forward and work toward a goal but in order to do that you need to keep yourself focused. When we spend energy surveying the people around us, we slow ourselves down. I don’t know about you but I can’t walk, run, skate fast or straight if I’m constantly looking at the things around me. Even focusing too hard on the things in front of me harms my progress because I need to pay attention to myself.
For example, I’m a mild runner by obligation for my career. I have a certain about of minutes I have to run two miles, when I’m running what helps me most is not the back of the head in front of me but it’s the inner voice telling me “you got this.” “Just a little more” “control your breathing” “pace yourself.”
I am able to reach my own level of success in that moment as I draw my attention to what I need to be successful not to what’s around me.
As I was writing this post and grappling still with my truth in it; the inner voice I call God said this…
“You don’t have to worry about who’s in front of you when I’m leading you. You don’t have to worry about whether you’ll be successful when you trust in me. I know what I’m doing. See. *flashback to all your cherished, successful moments*
“It won’t matter who you feel is in front of you when you allow me to lead.”
Hey Builders! Let’s Talk, share how you fight against comparison and negative self talk below.
Mental Health Awareness Month