Archive for shame

Oct
23

Escape the Deadly Trap of Comparison

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There’s a “harmful action” that I and nearly every client I work with easily fall into.

It wreaks havoc on our self-esteem, as well as social relationships. And it affects our health.

There are many forms of it, and it’s sneaky. For instance, because I didn’t fall prey to the more obvious forms, I thought it wasn’t a problem for me.

I was wrong.

What is this common, destructive trap?

It’s the trap of COMPARISON.

There’s a basic human need that drives this, which I will talk about in another post.

For now, I want to help you identify how this might be showing up in your life.

Telltale Feelings and Beliefs

Some of the feelings that point to this harmful action are shame and low self-esteem. The underlying beliefs are “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t measure up,” “there’s something wrong with me.”

We want to heal these feelings and unhealthy beliefs, but to do so we need to identify and address what you might (unconsciously) be doing on a daily basis that drives these feelings and beliefs.

That’s where comparison comes in. There’s something we’re doing that drives these feelings, the reinforces the unhealthy beliefs.

Let’s look at the main forms of comparison.

Comparing Yourself to Others

This form of comparison can be to other people who are “like me,” or “not like me.”

Perhaps growing up, your parents or other authority figures compared you to someone else.

  • “Why can’t you be organized like your sister?”
  • “Your brother was so athletic. You can hardly even throw a ball.”
  • “Why are you so sensitive? Nobody else is bothered by that.” (We Highly Sensitive People get this sort of thing a lot.)

Thus you learned to compare yourself to others, and felt you didn’t measure up.

I said comparison can be sneaky. Sometimes we can feel ashamed if we’re better in some way than others. “I wish my boys had your brains,” my father would tell me. I think his remark was more about his feelings about my brothers than me, but along with other messages from religion and the culture, I began to believe I needed to diminish my intelligence so as not to make anyone else feel bad.

You might also compare yourself to others who are like you, so you identify with them, but in some area you fall short. Thus, it can be all the more painful.

 

  • Everyone in your social group drives a nice car—except you.
  • Everyone in your social circle is married—except you. (Or vice versa.)
  • All your friends are retired and having a good time, and you still have to work.

You get the idea.

Social comparison is multiplied exponentially by social media. It’s so easy to end up comparing yourself to the image others portray. Keep in mind that social media is set up to fuel comparison and discontent.

Comparing Yourself to Others’ Expectations of You

Did you grow up in a family with high expectations? This isn’t necessarily bad, but if there’s any areas in which you fell short, you may feel ashamed and “not good enough.” You may have internalized unrealistic expectations of yourself, and constantly try to live up to them.

If you’re Highly Sensitive, an inborn trait approximately 20% of the population possesses, expectations may have been laid on you of being “like the other 80 percent.” Perfectionism is a very common struggle for HSPs as a result.

I remember vividly being given a vacation in Europe as a perk from my employer. One of the things we did was go to a discotheque in Germany. I was supposed to be having fun, but to a Highly Sensitive like me (I didn’t realize I was HS at the time), it was pure hell. The flashing lights, loud music, different language, constant movement, all added up to sensory overload that made me miserable. Adding to the misery, however, was the expectation that I was supposed to be having a wonderful time.

My mother wanted me to be very social and outgoing, and I was an introvert that needed alone time to recharge. One of the memories I’ve had to work on a lot was her oft-repeated admonition, “Get your nose out of that book and find someone to play with!” My interpretation: my love of books was invalid, and all that mattered was being social. Otherwise, I “had no personality” (another thing I was told).

(By the way, later in life, after my mother had been doing Healing Codes for a while, we had a wonderful talk about how I’d felt about these and other memories, and she was able to receive it. Her transformation was one of the things that cemented in my heart how powerful and valid The Healing Codes are.)

We are all prone to others’ expectations of us, because we’re social beings and we have a strong need to fit in. Yet this becomes a deadly trap where we lose our true selves to some “socialized” version that we’re trying to live up to. That adds enormous, though largely unconscious, stress to our systems.

I love this quote from poet e.e. cummings:

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”

Comparison to Yourself—Past or Future

This is another way comparison can be sneaky.

You may not realize you had an unconscious expectation that, say, by age 30 you should be married with two kids, or that by age 40 you should own a nice house, or that by age 60 you should have your house paid off, or that you would be able to retire by age 65. (Did you notice how many of these expectations are common cultural norms?)

Life rarely turns out the way we imagine it will. Imagining is one thing, expecting it of yourself is another.

Or perhaps you’re comparing yourself to some past version of yourself.

“I used to be able to _____; now I can’t.” Aging reveals this painful expectation of self.

So what do we do about all this destructive comparison?

Steps to Freedom from the Comparison Trap

1. Acknowledge it. Allow yourself to become aware of the ways comparison might be eating away at your joy.

2. Heal it. If you can, identify memories and/or relationships that may the be the source of this harmful action. Pinpoint the feelings and beliefs. Put all the feelings, beliefs, and “the harmful action of comparison,” into your Healing Code prayer of intention, and intentionally heal it.

3. Get in touch with what brings your true self joy. Use your power of choice to “flip the switch” and choose joy over meeting expectations. When doing a Healing Code, infuse the memories of those times when you were “true self,” to reinforce that joy and connection to the essence of who you really are.

4. Use comparison constructively. Is there something here I can adapt for myself? Do I need support to heal a heart wound? Do I want to create something entirely new that suits me better?

For instance, since I am in business for myself, it’s easy to compare myself to what other “successful” entrepreneurs are doing and wonder if I’m missing out. Should I get into Instagram? Do a Facebook Live? It’s working so well for So-and-So. . . .

When I check in with my True Self, with my Heart, I realize that connection with others is important to me, but I can do it in ways that are more suited to my temperament. While I’m open to new ideas, I need to pass them through my Heart Check to see if any match up with my divine design. Often I find I need to adapt it to the way I’m wired, or create something entirely new that achieves the result I want, in a way that suits me.

I hope this helps you begin the journey of escaping the deadly comparison trap. And of course, if you want more personalized help for your unique situation, check out my coaching at HealingCodesCoaching.com.

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