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The High Cost to Your Mental Health of Making Comparisons 

“I’m 30 now so I should have at least 20k in the bank and 50K invested.   My cousin has 40k saved and I feel like I’m behind.”

 

“I should have a better job right now. My friend just gave notice at her job and starts her new job making way more money in two weeks.  I should have a better job.”

 

“My friend broke up with her boyfriend, around the same time I broke up with mine, and she is already in another relationship. Is there something wrong with me that I don’t have a new relationship yet?”

 

All of these comparisons can come at a high cost to our mental and emotional health and wellbeing.  While it can occasionally be helpful to make a comparison to use as motivation, more often than not, the comparisons I hear from people are incredibly shaming.

 

These comparisons assume (or act as if) there’s only one right way, or one life path and we should be on it. And then when we are off the beaten path, we self doubt or worse, self deprecate.

 

While we humans possess a herd mentality ( look at how many people are uncomfortable with any deviation from their perceived norm)  it is important to realize that your path, preferences, direction and values may be wildly different then someone else’s.

 

What would that look like, or sound like in your head, if you gave yourself permission to be on your own path- in your own timing?

 

I enjoyed a movie recently that caught my attention, as the adult daughter of a very controlling mother realized that just about all of her “adult” decisions were born out of pleasing her mother.

 

Even her career choice was about her mom being proud of her.   When a new friend helps her question her motives, and enquires about how she might find her joy, she starts  to make some different decisions- including turning down what she thought was her dream job.

 

It takes awareness and courage to recognize that we can observe someone else’s life and choices while not using it as a one size fits all  measuring stick for success.

 

If you are reading this, now is a good time to ask yourself the following:

 

-              How often do I compare myself to others?  What do I notice I feel when I do that?

-              How often do I pause to reflect if my decisions really feel like they are my own?

-              Who do I allow to influence me and do they care for my own heart and welfare?

-              Do the people I'm influenced by share my same values?

-              Have I held myself up to some impossible standard of beauty or success?

-              How might I feel if I allowed myself to just be authentically me?

 

You might even create some “cave time” – time where you pause all the roles and responsibilities in your life and find a safe quiet place to just reflect.

 

This one pause can change the direction of your life if you realize that your path is your path.  It is not right or wrong, but it is a culmination of your values, dreams, goals and efforts.  Your definition of success is yours alone.  

 

Next time you catch yourself comparing your life or situation to someone else’s, ask yourself if that is to your benefit. 

 

If not, remind yourself that it’s ok to march to the beat of your own drum.

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