On the book tour, I’ve found that A LOT of women are struggling with comparing themselves to others. They keep asking me what to do about that.
Here is my take: comparing ourselves to others isn’t the problem. It’s an indication of the problem. It’s a consequence of the real problem, which is that we have turned away from our own path in some way.
When we’re comparing, it’s because we aren’t doing the things that pull us into an intoxicating romance with our own life. And therefore we have time, and room, to focus on what others are doing.
I usually find when I’m comparing one of two things are going on with me:
1. I’m not practicing my passions, the activities I love, love, love to do, the activities that give me juice and fill me up. I love to write. I love to dance. I love to create–creating a beautiful party or creating a course or creating a vision for the year ahead. Those things – writing, dancing, creating – are my highway to joy. Your list is surely different – maybe you love to paint or ride horses or organize details or write code.
When I’m not practicing my passions enough (and sometimes just a little of one is enough, sometimes more is needed), my life gets less alive. I’m not in my own romance with those loves. I’m not following the mystery of where they take me. I get cranky and bored. And then, and only then, I start looking outward to what others are doing and comparing myself unfavorably to them.
2. I also start comparing myself to others when I’m denying a calling – a project or endeavor that I feel a longing toward. I really want to do a particular project in my business but I’ve convinced myself I can’t yet for this or that reason. Or, I have a long-held dream that I’m refusing to accept is a real dream of mine. That kind of thing.
The beauty of this is that life has given all of us this cool warning system, this system of checks. If you find yourself often comparing yourself to others, it’s time to ask yourself, “What important activity that I love am I not doing enough of in my life?” and “What callings am I ignoring?”
Embrace your callings (find out how to identify them in this post), and pursue your passions, and then you are on your path. And it will be so damn intoxicating, joyful, and scary that you will become absorbed in it. You’ll have less time and energy and need to look outward, but when you do, you will experience everyone else’s accomplishments in a very different way – in a much lighter, not-loaded way.
That’s what I believe. We can’t stop comparing ourselves to others by trying to stop. That won’t be enough. We need something to turn our gaze toward. We need to answer the calls in our hearts. We need to bravely reclaim those long lost passions – even if we think we don’t have time for them or our inner critics talked us out of doing them long ago.
When I was writing about writing and dance and creativity just now, I got choked up, with tears of gratitude.
We each get granted a few passions, a few special practices that bring us joy and centeredness and that sense of home, and they are among the greatest blessings we receive in this lifetime. We all receive them – we just need to discover what ours are, or remember what they are, or trust the inklings about what they are, and then give ourselves the gift of doing them.
Life loved us enough to give us this gift, but we have to love ourselves enough to receive it.
And when we do, and feel that joy move through us, we glimpse how deeply Life loved us, to give us this.
photo credit: Cristina Gottardi