By Patricia G Omoqui
The other day I instant messaged with a young man who said he struggled with sadness and depression.Â When I asked why, he told me he had just attended a school reunion.Â Prior to the get together heâ€™d been feeling great.Â Post-reunion was another story.Â After hearing the tales his mates told about what was happening in their lives, he began to attack himself.Â â€œWhy is everyone farther along than I am?Â Something must be wrong with me.Â Iâ€™m behind in life!â€ He felt tremendous anxietyâ€”he thought he had to push himself to stay in â€œthe raceâ€ with his peers.
Continually comparing ourselves with others consumes valuable life energy.Â It is easy to get snared in this subtle mental trap.Â When we encounter someone, we tend not to see the actual human being:Â instead, we notice what labels theyâ€™re wearing, what possessions theyâ€™ve accumulated, what titles theyâ€™ve acquired.Â Â We scrutinize others to determine whether they are â€œaheadâ€ of us or whether we are â€œbeatingâ€ them.
Does your heart sink into your stomach when you hear other people talk about their successesâ€”academic, professional or financial?Â Do you berate yourself, thinking, â€œWhy does everyone seem to be doing so much better than I am?â€ Of course you smile and offer a grudging, â€œCongratulations.â€ Yet, you silently hope, that somehow, theyâ€™ll stop doing so well.
Imagine a life in which you let go of competitive comparisons and instead focused solely on being YOUR best.Â This concept may seem foreign.Â After all, since childhood, weâ€™ve always been measured against others.Â At school we were rated by our grades.Â At home our appearance, behavior and friends were contrasted with those of our siblings.Â Weâ€™ve been taught to â€œkeep scoreâ€ so we know â€œwhere we standâ€ in the group.
All of this judgment robs us of the fun of growing into our own uniqueness.Â Inner stress builds as we strive to prove to others that we are special and important too, that we meet The Standard.Â To stay in the game, we spend money we donâ€™t really have on the newest fashions, fanciest jewelry, latest high-tech gadgets, fastest cars and biggest houses.Â Then we suffer inner misery worrying about how we will pay for all that weâ€™ve acquired to keep up the illusion of success.
What if it is possible to change this perspective?
My understanding shifted dramatically when Maggie, my first child, was born.Â Many of you have read the story of how my husband and I learned Maggie had special needs. When she was diagnosed, I initially felt deep grief because I compared her to other children her age.Â Maggieâ€™s pace of development was different from the norm.Â I began to believe that something was â€œwrongâ€ with my child.
What Iâ€™ve come to realize is that there is nothing wrong with Maggie.Â In fact, this beautiful little girl is wonderful just as she is.Â Maggie loves everyone and she loves life.Â To her the simplest pleasure calls for celebration.Â She lights up the room wherever she goes.Â She may not get the highest grades in the class.Â She may not win the relay races at school.Â And that is just fine with me.Â I understand now that none of these things truly matter.Â What does matter is that Maggie will be the best SHE can be.Â I am committed to appreciating her and giving her the opportunity and support to reach her potential.Â I want her to enjoy every minute of life as she does so, spreading happiness and enthusiasm to everyone she encounters.
I donâ€™t compare Maggie to my younger daughter Skye, who society sees as a â€œsuper-achiever.â€ Each of these magnificent children is unique, beautiful, and courageousâ€”here to have a full and fascinating life journey, one that she truly enjoys and one in which she shares her gifts with the world around her.Â Rather than spending my time comparing my children against one another or with their friends, I encourage Maggie and Skye to be themselves.
There is no pressure to compete unless we put it on ourselves.Â Standards we decide to meet are self-imposed.Â Â We need not continue to evaluate ourselves against artificial yardsticks society assures are important.
To those devices for comparison, I say, â€œNo. Thank you.Â Iâ€™ll take this information under advisement and choose what feels right for me.â€ With this decision, I am saying â€œYesâ€ to myself.Â I remained trapped far too long in an unhappy life because I believed I had to prove to everyone else that I could measure up.Â Externally imposed guidelines no longer interest me.Â I listen to my inner Guidance. Being MY best is the only way for me to be truly happy.
If you are exhausted from continually competing to be as â€œsuccessfulâ€ as others, then here are a few suggestions to help you look at yourself and your life with fresh eyes.
1.Â Observe how often you compare yourself with others.Â Change starts with awareness.Â When we watch our thoughts closely, we begin to see the mindsets weâ€™ve adopted.Â Each belief has a corresponding emotional reaction.Â What beliefs about yourself are causing you distress, dissatisfaction, frustration, sadness or depression?Â For at least one day notice how often you look at someone and then criticize yourself based on the way they look or what they have.Â What do you think of yourself?Â How do these thoughts make you feel? Notice how often you measure your worth by what you donâ€™t have or what you havenâ€™t done.
2. Release the inner pressure.Â Stop judging yourself.Â Ask your Source to help you see yourself in a positive way.Â Â You are an exquisite expression of Life, valuable by virtue of your creation apart from any external having or doing.Â Life is not a race itâ€™s an adventure.Â Allow yourself to be who you are and where you are. Why not accept yourself?Â Each moment is meant to be enjoyed not judged, grieved, avoided, endured or rushed through.Â Donâ€™t try to be a palm tree if you are a bird of paradise.Â Donâ€™t down yourself if you enjoy the marketplace rather than an office or if you desire to create with your hands rather than on a computer.Â The only way to happiness is to be yourself and do what you love.Â Get to know yourself and set your intention to grow into what feels right for you.
3. Celebrate your uniqueness.Â Regain your energy by dancing to your own beat.Â Take time to explore the REAL you, the one who longs to express yourself to the world.Â It may feel strange at first.Â You might not even remember who you areâ€¦but thatâ€™s all right.Â Now is your chance to declare yourself free.Â When you let go of societyâ€™s rigid guidelines and allow yourself to follow your passions, moving toward what brings you joy, you will be amazed at the relief, enthusiasm and serendipities that begin to flow into your life.
4. Realize there will be naysayers.Â In general people want us to remain with themâ€”trapped in the comparison cycle.Â After all, those who stop playing the game become unpredictable.Â They think independently.Â Their free spirits stir things up.Â Let others do as they please.Â Itâ€™s okay if they still feel the need to compare themselves with each other.Â Simply wish them well and free yourself to try a new approach.
5. Be happy for the achievements of others.Â Celebrate when others are THEIR best!Â There is plenty of opportunity, abundance and success for all of us.Â If you canâ€™t see this as true right now, ask the Universe to help you open your mind.Â Affirm, â€œI choose to see new possibilities all around me.â€
Each of us brings unique viewpoints, insights, aptitudes, and ingenuity to the planet.Â The world needs you to be the best YOU possible.Â Why not break free?
If you would like more ideas on how to be YOUR best in any circumstance, please check out my inspirational video clips, shown each Friday morning at 7:35 a.m. on Today on STV (on both Silverbird TV and DSTV.) If you canâ€™t catch them on TV, you can see them on www.youtube.com .Â Just search by my name.Â Also, please join me on Facebook and Twitter for additional inspiration.