My Love-Hate Relationship With Comparisonitis

"I am enjoying showing up as myself more completely."

That was the nugget of gold I rendered from my weekend intensive with my coach this past weekend. Once a quarter I sojourn in Minnesota for a few days to do deeper work to heal my "stuff" and open up blocks around my mindset. Because I'm a coach myself, I know the value of having a different perspective to help me open my eyes to my own hangups about success and how my life "should" be at this point in time.

This revelation came as a surprise as much as it came as a soothing realization. There's ease in showing up as myself - without worry or self-censorship. Granted, there are times when a little tact is recommended, but to just be myself fully - warts, sparkles, and all - is a gift I'm learning to give myself (and the world) more regularly.

I suffered for years with Comparison-itis.

Comparisonitis is a dreadful condition. It's a horrible inflammation of the ego, causing immense discomfort about who you are, and overall dissatisfaction with anything you've accomplished. When you suffer from Comparisonitis, everyone else is always farther along, doing better, making more money, living the life you believe "should" be yours. There's no sense of satisfaction, and often you feel guilt - like there's something wrong with you, or you need to be doing more.

Comparisonitis is fear in disuise. Instead of doing what we can where we're at, we're constantly comparing ourselves to every Tom, Dick, and Jane out there that appears to be in a better position than us.

One of my first (and admittedly worst) cases of Comparisonitis was with a contemporary colleague of mine. It was around 2008, and another coach was having what appeared to be way more success and making way more money than me. We both launched our businesses about the same time, and I was frustrated at how much exposure she was getting, how many "big name" people were talking her up, and how she looked like she was on the fast track to success.

What I didn't know was that all that surface shine came at a great cost to her personal life. She had taken out a second mortgage on her home so she could invest in all the programs that those "big names" were offering, which came with a promise of promoting her stuff to their audience. Ultimately, she ended up divorcing her husband and starting over on a much smaller scale. She tried to leapfrog and wasn't ready for the hard landing that comes from such a high jump.

You don't know what's going on in someone else's world. Stop comparing your success to theirs. (click to tweet)

There's a difference between Comparisonitis and benchmarking - which I'll get to in a minute - but for now, realize that your first step in moving beyond Comparisonitis is to stop "shoulding" on yourself.

"Stop 'shoulding' on yourself."

I forget where I first heard the phrase, but if you've worked with me for any length of time, you've heard me use it. We get so caught up in the "shoulds" - instead of accepting (and maybe even embracing) where we are now. I think Mark Silver over at Heart of Business said it to me best:

"As long as you are in comparison, you are rejecting what is true [for yourself],  and you are not able to be present to what is... People make up stories to protect themselves from having to surrender to what is currently true for them."

- Mark Silver"

When we're not focused on what is, we're focused on what we think should be happening, what we should be doing, what we should be experiencing. All that does is create more anxiety, more guilt, and more frustration about where we are not, instead of appreciating where we are.

Yet, if we stop comparing ourselves to anyone (except our past selves), we can see how far we've come in our lifetime, despite the obstacles, trials, fear, worry, doubt, and pressure to be something other than who and what we are.

When I look back on my life (instead of comparing that life to someone else), I'm really proud of what I've accomplished, who I've become, and what's on the radar for my future. I get a chance to appreciate my own awesomeness (without arrogance), instead of poo-pooing and downplaying my life because it's not "enough" compared to someone else.

It's not good or bad, it just is.

My coach has helped me practice what she calls "AWOJAWA" - awareness without judgement, awareness with acceptance. We often think that pain, discomfort and other feelings of that ilk are "bad" and to be avoided. While it's true that I wouldn't want to live there all the time, sometimes pain can be a powerful tool for recognizing a need to change. Fear can be a powerful motivator to get stuff done. It's not good or bad, it just is.

Likewise, we think that happiness, pride, peace, joy and other feelings of that ilk are "good" and to be sought after. Yet, how much happiness is there in chasing joy? How healthy is it to be peacefully blissed out and completely unaware of the 8 year old setting fire to your kitchen?

It's not good or bad, it just is. We are the ones putting all the judgment labels on our emotions.

From Comparison to Benchmarking

Comparisonitis still flares up in me from time to time, and I do my best to use a healthier way to track my growth and progress. Benchmarking is an idea that's used a lot in corporate worlds, and one that I think we can use beneficially in other ways. The idea is to look to a standard and measure our results compared to that standard.

But here's the kicker - you can't measure to some external standard. Take for example, my weight loss journey. If I constantly compared myself to every other woman that was more than 100 pounds overweight, observed the charts and "standards" that governing health agencies said were ideal, I'd be miserable.

My standard, instead, is consistency. What can I do consistently? I can run - if I'm pushed - but I can't sustain that. I hate running (for now anyway). What can I do - and do it consistently? I can get off my butt and dance around my house for 10 minutes a day. Will that cause me to lose 100 pounds overnight? Nope. But once I'm consistent at 10 minutes, I can increase it to 15, and so on.

So I benchmark my progress against my own reasonable standard. Will I get there as fast as I want to - as fast as I think I should?

Um nope. But I'll be making healthier choices more consistently... which eventually leads to the result I want.

Success is a destination, and you are already here!

Did you hear that? I'll let you take a minute for that to sink in. You are already a success. How's THAT grab ya?

In benchmarking, I'm allowed to see myself as already successful. Because I'm comparing myself now to what I've already done, and what's doable for me going forward. I can celebrate my wins NOW instead of waiting for "someday" in the great beyond.

Tomorrow never comes, yo. And yesterday is always gone. Insert cheesy cliches about embracing this moment here.

So in showing up fully as myself - as often as I can - I get to experience the grace and beauty of my own success. I get to draw closer to the Divine ideal of my life - whatever that is. I'm still figuring it out.

Here's another tidbit I gleaned from Mark - if we look at "excellence" (or "success" in this case) as a way to Master our world, we miss out on the other, more glorious result - we draw closer to the Divine.

So becoming myself more fully means I'm becoming excellent at being myself - instead of becoming something else that moves me farther and farther away from Divine Alignment.

Showing up as myself more completely means I own who I am, and I speak from my true voice - my truth - warts, sparkles, and all. Which, I think, is part of why I'm here on the planet in the first place. God doesn't make extra parts and pieces. We all have a gift and the only way we can share it is if we share it from our true self. I think Judy Garland said something about being a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else. Why would you want to be a second rate version of anything?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

It's so important that we understand how important we are - how important YOU are in this world. What do you see as your gifts? And what are you doing to share them with the world - fully as yourself?


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