One of the leadership lessons I know (and try to embrace!) is the idea of not comparing yourself to others. It’s natural though, right? After reading 3 of Brené Brown’s books about shame and vulnerability, I still struggle with this. However, the difference now is I acknowledge and understand the harm it does to my soul, spirit and zest to be my best self.
Last Fall I stumbled (okay – fell flat on my face) as I was bouncing around Facebook. One of the images that caught my eye was a screen shot of another speaker’s calendar. It was chock full of dates – yes, I counted 31. And then my heart sank. I added up the speaking fees. Did the math. And felt a pit in my stomach as I looked at my calendar and saw 3 dates. Comparison kills.
Here’s the absurd part – I don’t even want that. To be on the road that much in one month would zap me dry – and stall any other efforts I’m trying to do as an Instructor teaching courses on leadership in the classroom. Yet, I was enticed by the comparison and in the middle of it forgot what I wanted. What I’m trying to do. What MY goals are.
And then the comparison seeped deep into my soul.
Am I ‘good enough’ to get that? I must not be, if my calendar only has 3 dates. And then I go darker. “F#@K, why am I still doing this?” Absolutely losing sight of what I’ve built over the last 10 years and the goals I have looking ahead. My brain spun out of control into the depths of feeling like I don’t measure up. I was cranky. Real cranky. And then I open an email – and read, “you’re on the waitlist.”
Thanks Universe! If I wasn’t feeling the financial insecurity now, I was punched even harder to question my worth, my value and my contribution. Writing this, I’m feeling that same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach again. < deep breathe. >
Moving from Comparison to Compassion – 3 Soul Strategies:
1. Reconnect to what I really want. Vision and goals have always been an important part of me and my work. It’s when I lose sight of these that the comparison trap occurs. Taking stock and claiming what I really, truly, want is a strategy for me to offer myself compassion from comparison. When my goals, ideals and dreams are fuzzy it’s easy for me to troll around FB looking for something to compare – and either making myself feeling better at someone’s expense, or feeling worse.
2. BE my bold self. There is only one me. The strengths, the gifts, the talents, the mess and the flaws. It’s me. Constantly learning to embrace who I am – and who I choose to BE – allows me the gifts of compassion amidst all my flaws and imperfections.
3. Breathe. What usually occurs when I feel the stress of comparison is that my breathe shallows and I’m not getting enough oxygen to my brain. And therefore, slip into the funk and the spin of ‘I’m not enough.’ Being able to breath, focus in on the NOW, and allow myself to Be provides compassion – and content. Breathe is the necessity to bringing instant calm and compassion to the forefront.