HOW COMPARISON CAN POSSESS US

HOW COMPARISON CAN POSSESS US

We’ve all used others’ yardsticks to measure our own lives and it’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy. Now, with social media influences, the field has widened for comparisons. How do we manage it all? Here, our contributing lifestyle expert, life coach, and author Angie McCourt shares her insight from her book, Love Your Gifts: Permission to Revolutionize Authenticity in the Workplace.

THE BEST INFLUENCE

In my book, Love Your Gifts: Permission to Revolutionize Authenticity In The Workplace, I dive into “comparison” as a block to revealing our gifts. The reason? It can negatively impact our mindset and start to possess us. Have you thought to yourself (while scrolling through Instagram or other social media channels) why am I so triggered by this person’s posts (even if they are great posts)? It appears we are almost possessed by “comparison” these days. We can’t seem to stop ourselves.

 

Unhealthy comparisons have significantly impacted our mindset across all areas of our life. In a world where we are encouraged to compare ourselves to each other or to famous or successful people either on social media, or by titles, income, looks, and even our bodies, it’s no wonder we tend to feel shameful or not good enough, more often than not. The silent yet in-your-face pictures, articles, and features flooding our information highway can create a sense of personal comparison, even if we don’t realize it is happening. It has brought on more consumerism and accumulation than ever, and impacts our self-worth. It can fuel our inner critic that says we are not good enough, which is one of the most harmful impacts on our mindset.

 

HERE TO THERE

The typical underlying message is that we are broken, our home is not up to par with others, we are behind, and we need to step up in society and within our culture. Even further, from a parenting perspective we need to do all, and be all for our children while keeping up with what other parents are doing, or supporting, for their children. Otherwise, we are not good parents. This includes the schools/programs our children are participating in, the grades they receive, the colleges they attend, what we allow our children to do (screen time and accountability), and their behavior. In the workplace, comparisons can have an even greater negative impact on the individual, the team, and company culture.

 

Comparison is heavy, low-vibrational energy, yet it can be healthy if we recognize it is happening and determine if it is helpful or not. Sometimes, it can motivate us to do something we have wanted to, and now that “they” are doing it, we feel motivated as well. It can also energize us to lean into our strengths and focus on making them central to our lives. Having a frame of reference or a model to mirror can help us overcome indifference, lack of confidence, or simply lack of knowledge in knowing what to do and how to act. If it is not healthy, we can break it and shift our thoughts and beliefs. Evaluating our standards, upgrading them when needed, and awareness when we are straying is key. Breaking the chains of induced comparison is such a freeing feeling. Living with intention and within our values and beliefs allows for healthy comparisons, but only if it motivates us.

 

BEYOND COMPARE

Choose to take a different path if you do recognize “comparison”, whether with your intentions (switch to a good one), pausing your mind to re-adjust (breathe), and acknowledging your feelings (anger, pain, shame, sadness, resentment). Acting with scorn and contempt toward others can have other serious consequences that you may not be able to reverse.

 

If you find that certain things trigger you such as social media, PTA parents (one of mine), media, certain leaders, colleagues, or even organizations’ announcements, remove them from your day. Don’t look, read t, or think about them. Let them go, unfollow, and limit your exposure.

 

Shift your mindset through your state of being. Go for a walk, dance, or, if at work, play music in your headphones to change your state. Focus on what you are grateful for and what that means to you and to your goals and desires.

Awareness, in and of itself, is a super-helpful way to break the chains blocking our growth. Setting your own personal and professional goals that align with your values and beliefs and sticking to them with integrity can help keep the silent hacker from getting in. Limit social media time and other outlets where you are triggered by “comparison.” Ask yourself, do you really want or need something…or is it just because they have it, and you feel you must have it, too?

 

DEVELOPING A MORE PLAYFUL ATTITUDE STARTS NOW

DEVELOPING A MORE PLAYFUL ATTITUDE STARTS NOW

When we were children, didn’t it seem like an endless summer then? No time constraints to keep us from pursuing fun. Today you can get back–and move forward–to that blissful feeling, according to our professional life coach expert, Angie McCourt.

CREATIVE COMMONS

Our fast-paced world can have us feeling like a robot moving from task to task and decision to decision each day. It may feel like something is missing as we do everything we are supposed to do for our family, work, and others. Have we forgotten something on our busy life journey? Perhaps it was left in our childhood or adolescence? Maybe it was something we enjoyed about ourselves, such as how we learned and engaged with others. What about play? You may ask, are adults supposed to play, like children do? The answer is a resounding yes, and you can add it back into your adult life, starting here and now.

When we are engaged in playful activities, we stimulate our creative minds and increase our imagination, which helps us create new ideas, learn new skills, and problem solve. In fact, engaged play is thought to help increase happiness, align you with your deepest needs, and is a huge predictor of your wellbeing.

Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex. Play reduces cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, and releases endorphins (the good feeling hormone.)  Play reduces burnout, stimulates the brain, boosts creativity and innovation, and increases productivity, social skills, and emotional wellbeing.

Let’s focus on creativity for a moment. Creativity is not only about being artistic. Everyone has a form of creativity. It’s all about how they access this resource. It includes solutions, ideas, or approaches that may otherwise be closed off. Play opens up creativity, so we can expand and grow.

Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. When we approach challenges from a playful place, we can uncover creative solutions. Developing a carefree nature can be as simple as not taking ourselves or life too seriously.

LIMITLESS PLAY

If you find yourself limiting your playfulness, it’s possible that you’re self-conscious and concerned about how you’ll look and sound to others when attempting to be lighthearted. Or, it could be you have been in the habit of being serious all the time because you’ve been programmed to be serious as an adult. You can shift from this belief and state. Acknowledge these areas, find the deeper truth, and recognize others can feel the same way. You can start small and private in your play.

 

You might ask, so how am I supposed to play? What should I do? Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling (pun intended). Rediscover what your younger self enjoyed doing. This can take some recall of memories, putting yourself in your own little shoes, or envisioning your 10-year-old self playing and having fun. Host a regular game night with family or friends. Hit the mini-golf course (or standard golf course), bowling alley, etc. Keep in mind not to have an outcome or expectation of a result. Just play. Leave the competition at home.

Laughter is play. Find something that brings you laughter or simply laugh at yourself. The key here is to not take yourself or life too seriously. Play with children or pets. The key here is to be fully present. Leave your phone in the other room/car/home. Grab some paint or a pencil and create. No masterpiece is expected here. Just doodle, color, use Playdoh or knit. Schedule time outside at a park, beach, or other outdoor area doing an activity. Get physical with yoga, Pilates, dancing, acting, singing, biking, hiking, riding roller coasters, mountain climbing, surfing, and snorkeling. Play with the intention for you to have fun, not to prove anything. Create a new game. Who says you must play by someone else’s rules?

PUTTING PLAY TO WORK

  1. When you become stuck in a problem, project, solution, or decision…turn to play. A few laughs and time away from the situation can help open the mind to new creative solutions.
  2. Think of a challenge you currently have. Now think of it in a playful way. In your mind, create avatars of the people involved, have a conversation in a cartoon voice, or think of it from a child’s perspective. What would your 10-year-old self do?
  3. Schedule time for play without setting an outcome or result. Just be open to what comes up for you at that time, even if it’s only daydreaming.

Tapping into this side of yourself (brain, emotions, physical, hormonal) can create more flow in your life. This includes relationships, connections, deep replenishment, and cognitive function. Flow offers balance, ease, and sustainability. As you play, notice how your creativity opens. How can your curiosity and flexibility develop, and how do you loosen your grip on control and the need to force life to happen? In fact, life should always be as playful and enjoyable as possible.