THE DISEASE OF COMPARISON
This week I have been very quiet which is unusual for me.
In the quiet, I have been listening.
I chose to create a cocoon away from my usual busyness in order to work on a suite of new Beyond Human Stories journeys for the coming year. During that process, I have been reaching out and asking my community and clients what they wished for in order to transform their stories. What they wanted me to design, to invite and to guide for them. I figured that by listening from the outside in, I would be able to deliver transformative journeys that were life-changers. Journeys that opened doors, pushed people off their cliffs and provided answers.
Amongst the various responses however, a deeper pattern emerged; one that I hadn’t expected. A pattern that grabbed my attention with both hands and turned my head towards something profound.
The key to this insight was in asking one pivotal question:
What is it that causes you deep, unspoken pain?
I don’t know what I expected by way of a response to this. Perhaps my pre-programming as a coach had already run down a road of complexity and missed the obvious answer that came back again and again through the lips of the people I asked. Perhaps I expected deep and complex answers linked to existential crisis’ in the multifaceted chaos of our world. Instead, the simple, truthful answer to this question made so much sense to me that I couldn’t ignore its power.
“I feel like I’m not good enough.”
Sound and feel familiar?
Yep – did to me too.
So familiar in fact that I started to wonder whether this is one of the core human ‘wounds’ that we all come into life carrying.
I stopped everything else I was doing and spent days contemplating this pain for myself. I walked up and down the beach. I hiked through the forest. I gazed out of the window watching the clouds and rain pass for hours on end….. wondering.
A question welled up inside me in response to my inquiry. I found that it held the key to the lock for the ‘I’m not good enough’ arrow that seemed to be stuck in all of our human sides. I found myself asking:
“Not good enough in comparison to what/who?”
You see what I realized, was that every time I felt ‘less than’, ‘not perfect’, ‘not good enough’ in its variety of forms, I was always making a comparison between me, here, now and someone, some-when, some-story or something else.
“I am not as strong or fit as I once was.”
“I am not as fast or smart as he is.”
“I am not as financially secure as I would like to be.” (The subtle comparison here being to our western social story of what ‘enough money’ feels like).
“I am not achieving as much as I would like to be.” (Compared to my internal benchmark of busyness that I inherited from years in mainstream corporate work).
“I am not beautiful / slim / toned / sexy / energized ……..” (The list goes on compared to the mythical media portrayal of beauty in our western world).
I could go on, but if you recognize any of these statements in your own way, then you also have fallen fowl of the disease of comparison.
Comparison turns our focus outside of ourselves (and our personal truth) and points it to the external world of constructed social narrative and illusions. We look at ‘others’ and make up stories about how they must be ‘perfect’, ‘happy’ and ‘complete’ and therefore by being different (in our minds) we must be less than them. Have you ever stopped to ask the object of your ‘projection of perfection’ whether they consider their lives to be perfect? Try this hack – you will very quickly find that most people (bar the small % of evolved saints on the planet) are just as riddled with fears, comparisons and judgments as you are.
Alternatively we reminisce and look at past stories through rose tinted glasses of how perfect it was when….. We remember selected segments of our younger years and see only that part of the story that we wish to see, conveniently forgetting all the rest of our youthful insecurities and fears.
The solution to this disease of comparison is to turn your story lens around and face the mirror within once more. Ask yourself, what do I need to feel good about me? What makes me special, unique and powerful? Your specific brand of ‘ME’ is a perfectly imperfect piece of the story puzzle on Earth. Without you, being you, and me, being me, the world would not be as beautiful, interesting and alive.
If you struggle with this process then you are not alone. Coming to an internally sourced sense of self worth and self love is the journey of a lifetime. One that we get to remind each other of how to walk well and with humour.