How to Stop Comparing Yourself with Others

Sorry for the click bait, but this won’t be a listicle of life advice. The truth is that I have an idea of what we can do to stop this kind of self-destructive behaviour, but it’s very difficult for me to make this idea a reality in my own life. So I’ll just go through what happens whenever I start comparing myself with others and set up the decorations for my pity party:

I usually start off my day positively. Maybe I get through a huge chunk of errands and feel really productive. Maybe I do everything I want to do and have extra time to settle into a book or TV show. Sometimes, though, there’s a build up of little not-so-good things that happen to me, and seldom one thing that triggers the following: I end up on the Internet. And that’s when I start creeping old classmates and thinking about how they’re in full-time jobs or jobs with higher pay or jobs that seem so interesting and fulfilling. Or how they’re getting engaged and are in great relationships. Or how they seem so damn happy.

That’s the thing, though. They seem to be happy. They seem to have their shit together. And while that is a great end goal, it’s not just a goal to be happy and to have your shit together. Both are processes, adventures, journeys. We should enjoy life and appreciate that we must go through pain and uncertainty in order to appreciate the joy that comes with living that kind of discomfort. Also, those people probably don’t have their shit together. At least not entirely.

Not to discredit their hard work or happiness! It’s just that what we see online, on social media, is the highlight reel. These images and words are heavily edited and censored to make our lives seem not just interesting, but entertaining and wonderful and something to envy. And you know that doing something simply to incite envy isn’t really good, is it?

Anyway, back to the pity party: after I creep those people and feel sorry for myself, I usually just kind of stew in it. I just sit and let the waves of bad feelings wash over me again and again. Here comes incompetence, followed by frustration and impatience. Rinse with sadness, and repeat. Repeat until I can’t take it anymore and write it all out, listen to music, or do something productive now that I’ve taken a good half hour (tops) to mope around. I usually like to bring floaties to the pity party, since I know I won’t be there for long. I know that I’ll want to escape the tide and go somewhere calm and warm.

It’s great that I’m able to pull myself out of that funk, but I’m wondering how I can stop from getting into it in the first place. Do I keep doing interesting things to make myself busy? Do I keep pushing myself to greater heights in my career and relationships?

My gut’s telling me, no. No, I don’t have to do that. I know that I shouldn’t work on just prevention (at least, not like the above) but also on coping and understanding. I should be kind to myself at the pity party and make sense of why I doubt myself or feel like I’m not good enough. Hopefully I can work my way towards transforming the party to one of celebration.

 

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Habits

Thought I’d start off this post with the above cover of a modern song. It’s a lovely cover, isn’t it?

This is going to be a difficult post for me to write. Habits are things that we don’t think about that often, unless we’re looking to change them. And then, we have to really work to make those changes happen.

I’m not proud of some habits that I (still) keep. The Internet meandering, the fanfiction reading, the overanalyzing of situations I have little to no control over, the staying at home instead of going out… they’re not exactly lifting me to my highest self. Yes, they’re comfortable places to sit in, and nothing awful happens to me. But actually, the awful thing that happens to me is nothing. Nothing happens when I stick to these habits. And that’s something you don’t exactly want to realize when you’re working towards self-improvement.

So, what do I do from here? Do I punish and berate myself for wallowing in complacency and self-pity? Do I have that pity party, If so, for how long? Or do I take a deep breath, furrow my brow, and make my way through the trenches and will myself to come out on the other side a person with good habits?

All of the above sounds so, well, bad. It sounds like a lot of work. It feel like pulling out teeth or going into battle. I would rather not have to go through that discomfort.

… And now I can hear Pema Chodron talking about how we shouldn’t run away from discomfort. There’s a reason why we feel that way, because it’s trying to teach us something. She’s asked if we can soften and open ourselves up that icky feeling, and see whether we can look at the feeling and at ourselves with compassion instead of disdain.

I guess it’s not a matter of whether or not we should let go of certain habits or acquire new ones simply because it feels good or bad. We should do it because it will make us better. We already know what’s best for us if we’re willing to listen. And then we can take it one step at a time, showing forgiveness and kindness to ourselves along the way. Once we open ourselves up to that kind of love, good things will happen.

The Moral Bucket List – NYT

I really enjoyed this New York Times article about living a life of “eulogy virtues,” and what it means to be good. Here’s an excerpt from The Moral Bucket List:

Commencement speakers are always telling young people to follow their passions. Be true to yourself. This is a vision of life that begins with self and ends with self. But people on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me? How can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?

Their lives often follow a pattern of defeat, recognition, redemption. They have moments of pain and suffering. But they turn those moments into occasions of radical self-understanding — by keeping a journal or making art. As Paul Tillich put it, suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were.

 

A Spiritual Gangster’s Paradise

I bought a yoga mat that’s eco-friendly. I bought a yoga mat bag that was made from a sari. I consider myself mindful. I believe that focusing on your breath is helpful in more ways than one. I bought a freaking green juice the other day.

Should I be surprised with myself that I’ve become the kind of person who practices yoga and meditation? Is it too far of a stretch for me to realize that I actually like thinking about humanity and our relationship with the universe?

I’m still not quite sure. All of this is new to me. I started to practice yoga in November because my massage therapist basically said I have weak back muscles. I started to practice meditation around February because my career coach said that it would help me on my journey. Turns out that both ladies were right, and both yoga and meditation have helped me in ways I never even thought of.

And maybe this whole not-thinking-about-how-spiritual-I-am thing is kind of counter-intuitive of actually being spiritual? I mean, being spiritual means looking at life in a thoughtful, mindful way. And I haven’t had a meta-mindful session about being spiritual, so that’s interesting. Does that make me a spiritual gangster?

The Jacksons of Sporting the Right Attitude think so. It sounds like a spiritual gangster to them is somebody who does all of the above and doesn’t care what others think. It’s somebody who skips practice because they’re just not feeling it today. It’s somebody who rejects what society has in store for them and proceeds to be their own badass self. Which is awesome.

It’s definitely something to work on. I’m still new to this yogi lifestyle, and with such transitions, I tend to feel like a fraud until I get comfortable enough to not care. I guess I’ll eventually get to that spiritual gangster’s paradise someday.

 

It Ain’t Easy Being Mean – or Kind

This post was inspired by a discussion I had with worldlittlelights in the comments section of Positive Projection. We talked about how hard it can be to think positive when you’re living among people who just don’t have time for that shit, or choose to focus on shit. There are people who believe that kindness and positivity are for the weak or naive. There are people who believe that kindness and positivity are good things and are necessary in life, but simply choose to focus on pessimism and negativity. I personally don’t know enough of these kinds of people to talk about them, but I can imagine how this kind of energy would rub off on others. So how would these others act in turn?

All of this made me think about how developing empathy and practising kindness takes a really long time to become a habit, much less become a part of your worldview and personal narrative. It comes with the realization that good things come to you when you project that kind of positivity, and with the various realizations of the same theme that follow. It comes with cliches that you live out in real life. It comes with multiple bad things happening to you, maybe at the same time, or one right after the other. Maybe it’s all of these things.

For me, kindness came as a result of confidence and vulnerability. I remember in high school, I’d put up a mean and tough front whenever I interacted with some classmates (most likely guys). I’d say mean and sarcastic things to get a laugh or to come across a certain way. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was acting that way because I didn’t want to come off as weak or vulnerable. I wasn’t terribly hurt or betrayed by others in the past, so I guess I had this fear of what could potentially happen if I were to open up. Kind of like Lena Kaligaris from The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants:

“She was sad about what happened to Kostos. And someplace under that, she was sad that people like Bee and Kostos, who had lost everything, were still open to love, and she, who’d lost nothing, was not.”

It’s this kind of openness that leads to people connecting with each other and introducing a little bit of kindness back to the world. Of course, this is what I’ve learned as I opened up to others bit by bit and began to trust myself in making these kinds of decisions. Being kind can be scary in a way. I didn’t really know that letting your guard down and being yourself would take a while to truly accomplish. Not knowing what you’ll be like on the other side isn’t exactly comfortable, whether it’s the other side of kindness or meanness. As with most other things in life, it’s the journey that’s the most significant.

Being mean and being kind take a lot of effort to maintain. If you want to be consistently kind or mean, you consciously make decisions every day that take you from one side to the next. Well, until it becomes a habit or even a reflex. You can decide for yourself whether it’s a healthy habit or not.

Positive Projection

Being optimistic and thinking positive have been things that I’ve worked on for my whole life to the point where I can confidently say that I can embody them. We all hear words of advice such as “seeing the glass as half full,” “cloud with a silver lining,” and such.

This past week, even though I had dreaded going to work, didn’t feel productive or confident – at one point I didn’t even want to get out bed – I experienced kindness, positivity, gratitude, progress, and love. It was so unexpected and amazing to know that God or the universe or people in general had my back and were working to help me out. I know that it can be hard to believe that this can happen to everyone, but I honestly feel like it’s possible.

All of this has been a build up of learning how thinking positive will bring positive things. If you’ve seen The Secret, you’ll know that this is all about the law of attraction: your thoughts become things. I never truly considered how powerful the law of attraction can be (and have scoffed at how fluffy and new age this idea was – and look at me now), but with the little things in my life, I’ve seen it happen. Work went well, I wasn’t late for something, my skin looked good, I networked more, I wrote more often, my relationships were in good shape… all of these things have contributed to life being pretty damn sweet right now.

I recognize that this happiness and feeling of peace won’t last forever. It actually won’t last for the next week, I predict. And that’s okay. I know that we can all find our way back to happiness if we truly want it and will work for it. The bad stuff will find its way out.

Liebster Award – TMU

The lovely Michelle nominated Thoughtful Minds United for the Liebster Award, which recognizes new bloggers. We are very grateful for the nomination and some of us contributors have decided to answer the questions that Michelle had set out for us (as per the rules).

liebster2
1. What is your favourite colour? Why?
Purple – it gives the impression of royalty and significance. It’s in between calming and trustworthy blue, and passionate and loud red – and I think that my personality is in the middle (veering towards the blue side). Also, it looks good with my colouring.

2. If you are given the chance to be someone else, who will it be and why?
There are two options here: a well-known politician so I can find out how they come to such big (and often insane, hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing) decisions, or an unsung, unknown hero living on the outskirts of society. It would be so interesting to get inside Kim Jon Un’s head and actually experience North Korea, but so rewarding to see through the eyes of a Good Samaritan living in poverty.

3. Where is your preferred tourist destination here on earth?
I’ve always always always wanted to visit France. The last two movies I watched, Midnight in Paris and Amélie, renewed that desire. One day!

4. Do you believe in fairy tales and happily ever after? Why?
I believe in the power and magic of fairy tales, and how they can inspire wonder and creativity in people. As for happily ever after, well… it’s not so much a belief as it is a hope for everyone to experience. We all deserve happiness.

5. Past, Present or Future?
Present. As somebody who practices yoga and attempts to meditate, it is so hard to stay in the present moment, which is why I value it so much. And it’s the one moment that matters the most.

6. Who will you choose, the one you love or the one who loves you?
I’m going to assume that I have to pick between two suitors here. The funny thing is that I read that if somebody likes you, it is highly likely you will in turn like that person. Based on that alone, we’re at an impasse haha.

Unless “the one you love” doesn’t love you back, and you don’t love “the one who loves you?” Yikes. I’d rather face unrequited love than break another person’s heart.

7. What or who inspired you to do blogging?
I finally decided to make my writing more public. Before, I would write in my journal and leave it at that. But then I wanted to do more because I love writing so much, and blogging became a natural fit.

8. If you can relate your life to a book, what will it be? Why?
I don’t think there’s a single book out there that would be close to what my life is like right now (mostly because books are so exciting and there’s a clear plot or destination). All I can think of is The Devil Wears Prada. Not for the fashion, but for the shitty yet valuable job post-graduation.

9. What is your favourite food?
This is hard. I know I’d be sick of any food that I would eat every day for the rest of my life. And I love food: Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Canadian, American, etc. And I love all of the food groups. I do have a sweet tooth, though, and love chocolate, pie, cake, cookies, waffles, etc. So I guess I don’t have one?

10. Love or Money? Why?
Love. I’ve answered this in my 15 Questions Tag post, so I’ll just quote Dumbledore again:

There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you [Harry Potter] possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all.

11. Friends or more than friends?
I think I have a solid group of friends, and that’s always growing. So I’ll pick more than friends because I have yet to experience something like that and I bet it would be awesome.

Here are the rules a nominated blogger needs to do in order to accept the Liebster Award:

  1. Link the person who nominated you to your blog post and let them know you answered their questions.
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate other bloggers for the award.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

I will nominate:

Amanda @ Reading Over People’s Shoulders
Rebecca @ Humyn
Anna @ Millennial Creativity
Ana @ QuarterVida
Amy @ Ramblings of an EB Grad

And your questions are:
1. If you could give advice to a crowd of people, what would it be?
2. Why do you write?
3. Night or day?
4. What’s your favourite joke?
5. How do you want to create a positive impact?
6. Is there a movie that means a lot to you and has shaped your life in any way?
7. What is your favourite childhood memory?
8. What is/was your favourite subject in school?
9. Summer or winter?
10. What was the happiest day of your life?
11.  Is there somebody you want to thank for anything right now?