Do you compare yourself to other people? Who are these people? Are these comparisons helping you learn and grow? Or are they having a detrimental effect on your wellbeing? I ask because a thought occurred to me whilst I was swimming the other day. I was being overtaken (a lot) by two other swimmers. At first I thought "I need to speed up somehow" and "use this as a friendly competition to swim faster, push myself, get fitter" etc. But it was exhausting and did not make me feel good about myself, so I went back to swimming at my own manageable pace. I wondered about whether the other two swimmers were having similar thoughts about their own sense of competition, or whether they were simply swimming along happily in their own world.
I have worked with several clients who make comparisons about themselves, which turn into harsh judgments, especially when they compare themselves to others and what other people are doing. Often these comparisons come in the form of:
- "I'm not thin enough"
- "I'm not rich enough"
- "I'm not smart enough"
- "I'm not attractive enough"
- "I'm not ahead in life enough"
Do any of these sound familiar? It seems to me that now there is not as much need for "survival of the fittest" (hello internet shopping), so we have adapted this to a "comparison of the fittest". This new evolutionary mindset has the capacity to bring us down. The key word here in each statement is "enough". We tell ourselves that because we think we are 'not enough', we are 'failing'; therefore we are failures/losers and therefore we are not good enough in general.
Enough with all the "enoughs"! You are already more than enough and you have all the tools you need to be who you are. In fact, no one else is as good as being you, exactly as you are already. You may find it helpful to discuss these critical patterns of self-beliefs with a trained counsellor so that you can work out where these thoughts keep coming from, where they came from originally, whose words they really are, and what you can do yourself to change to a more compassionate, positive way of thinking. For what it's worth, the next time this happens when I'm swimming, I will say to myself: "Stay in your lane, take your time, keep going and remember that you are already winning at your own race".