Enjoy Your Unique Path & Let Go of Comparing Yourself to Others | Blog
Enjoy Your Unique Path & Let Go of Comparing Yourself to Others
During a recent group call, each participant shared updates on their businesses since the last time we had met. As the sharing went on, I could see genuine excitement for one another. In the last two weeks, each person had made progress. Some of them had insights that helped them get more clarity or step into their authenticity more powerfully. Others shared the results of important conversations they’ve had; the completion of something and a couple of people talked about new clients.
As you might expect, as each person shared, there were lots of smiles and congratulations from the rest of the group. What you might not expect was at the same time, there was some self-doubt. It wasn't loud, and it wasn't super obvious, but it was there in the background of their minds.
It's not uncommon. I've experienced it myself, and I bet you have too. We compare, and it begins to shape how we feel about ourselves.
We hear what others are doing, what they're accomplishing, and we are genuinely happy for them. Yet, we can't seem to help and compare ourselves, our journey, and our progress against there's. And somehow, we come up lacking.
We think, “Why isn't that happening for me?” If it looks like things are going faster for the other person, we wonder, “Why are things moving so slow for me?” If it looks like the other person is accomplishing something, we want for ourselves, we think, “What am I doing wrong?” or “Why not me?”
Comparison breeds self-doubt. We compare ourselves to others and/or create an idealized image of ourselves and where we would like to be, then measure that against where we are today. All we see is the gap.
We start to define ourselves, our worth, and our value in relation to those around us or some idea of who we think we should be. We judge ourselves against an image or final destination so that where we are is never quite good enough.
When we look outside of ourselves to determine how we're doing, we get off track. We get distracted and sidelined by the noise that comes with comparison. As Theodore Roosevelt said in his famous quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I love flowers, and recently I bought these beautiful orange tulips. When I purchased them, they were all closed tight. Over the coming days, as tulips will do, they opened up. As they opened up more and more, I was struck by how beautiful they were at each stage, from tightly closed to fully open, with some of the petals falling off. At no point did I think, I wish these flowers would hurry up and open, or I wish they would go back to that other stage. Every day when I passed by them, I would get a smile on my face and think how beautiful they were. I never wanted them to be different than they were at that moment.
What if we could look to our own journey and own unique pace in this same way? What if we could experience fulfillment and joy right now, as we are?
Our journey, our work, and our lives are meant for us. Yours is not meant for me, and mine is not meant for you.
Your wisdom for your life trumps anyone else's wisdom for you. Your wisdom and path are designed for you. What is meant for you can be found by following your own inner voice and nudges.
When we align our actions against others' paths or wisdom, we often miss what is for us. When we look within, listen deeply to ourselves, we discover our own unique way.
When we let go of comparison, of “shoulda, woulda, coulda,” we see the beauty of our own pace. We are naturally grateful for all the bumps and reroutes along the way. We see their gift. What previously looked like a block is seen for the gift it reveals.
In hindsight, more often than not, we're grateful that things didn't quite work out the way we wanted.
Following our own path, our own inclinations and pace fulfills us in a way that nothing else will. We do not find fulfillment and happiness via comparison; we find it by fulfilling and listening to our own hearts.
We become more and more ourselves by letting our true self take the lead. Our paths are designed for us. Our challenges, opportunities, and relationships are uniquely designed to help us become more fully who we are meant to be.
We cannot be more of ourselves by following someone else's ideas or path. It sounds obvious when we read it, but I know I have often forgotten this. We innocently look at others and wonder if what we're doing is good enough.
In my own life and work with others, I have found that regardless of age, location, background, experience, or sex, everyone seems to light up inside at the idea of being more authentically themselves.
People's shoulders seem to relax, hearts naturally open, and deep breaths take place when people realize fulfillment, connection and happiness is a result of being who we are, as we are, in any given moment. No extra required.
“Our challenges, opportunities, and relationships are uniquely designed to help us become more fully who we are meant to be.”
“Every man has a vocation to be someone: but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfill this vocation he can only be one person: himself.” —Thomas Merton
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Barbara Patterson is the owner of a global coaching and consulting company helping solopreneurs, entrepreneurs & leaders access more clarity, creativity, have greater impact and higher levels of fulfillment in work and life. She is the founder of Beyond Limits in Business, a global platform and community designed to point people to the source of human potential. That potential resides within and is experienced via our minds. Barb is also the host of the Real Business Real Lives podcast. You can follow Barb on Linkedin and Insta