Nothing Compares to You
I was at the gym the other day and it was packed. This phenomenon happens every year. In January and February, you can’t find a parking place in the morning or between the hours of six and nine. I won’t complain. I think it’s wonderful how a calendar date can get people motivated to see themselves in new ways. Because of this, people all over the U.S. are inspired with goals and plans to let their best selves emerge!
At the same time, I know that goal-setting can be a slippery slope depending on what’s driving a person to change.
Was your New Years resolution made in the spirit of allowing your greater self to emerge, or are you punishing yourself for eating too many buttered croissants? Do you want to embark on a new road to explore your talents (career), or are you simply sick of making less money than your brother? It’s always important to ask yourself what your goals represent before you commit to them.
And to be honest with yourself…because goals can help you grow into a better person, but they can also whittle away at your self-esteem. I got to thinking about this a lot while reading, The Road Home, by Ethan Nichtern. He says,
“In our world, virtually everything can be statistical, and once quantified, it can become a polluting fuel for the comparative mind: The U.S. News and World Report numerical ranking of the university you attend (aim for single digits), the number of followers you have (aim high), the size of the clothing you wear (aim tiny). When our goals become comparative, we end up with a constant paranoia of always … being weighed on hidden scales.”
What he means is that our tendency to compare ourselves with certain standards can become like a bully constantly telling us we don’t add up in whatever way we think is important. Do your resolutions place you among a set of numbers designed to determine your worth?
All thoughts of comparison (and jealousy) aren’t bad per se, they’re actually signals. They tell us that there is something we’re seeing in another’s experience that we’d also like to have. It’s not saying we should be them, or even be like them. But a desire we have within is triggered and we’re being encouraged to feel that.
For example, if I see a much younger woman at the gym with ripped abs and I feel a twinge of jealousy, I might be tempted to compare my body to hers (shit, who wouldn’t) but with a little self-awareness, I can put this into perspective. I will never be 20 again. But I can take better care of what I have now. I know I can do better. Seeing her and experiencing the feelings it brings up, I can choose: beat myself up for not looking like her, or extend a little self-love to the body that’s brought me this far and all it’s done, OMG.
When you’re leaning toward comparison, you can feel it…it feels shitty and self-attacking. Ask yourself instead if there’s any way you could be inspired by what you see rather than feeling jealous or comparing your self or your life to theirs.
The only person you should ever compare yourself with is yourself. It’s totally okay to invite yourself to do better, or be a better person, especially when you know that you can do/be that. Even when you don’t know what you’re capable of, an inner urge can inspire curiosity to try new things and push the limits of your ability. With self-awareness, you can keep your goals focused on health and enjoyment for you and for the benefit of others without falling into the trap of unhealthy comparison. Ask yourself today, Do my goals include loving kindness toward myself for the long haul, not just for a month to attain a result that fits in better with the world’s definition of worthy, good, or strong?
Remember, nothing compares to you. You are already completely endowed with all you need for an amazing life. Allow the best in you to emerge, but don’t look “out there” for answers to who you “should” be. No one knows, but you.