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14 Things That Happened When I Compared Myself to Others

14 Things That Happened When I Compared Myself to Others

I’m talking about comparing myself to “successful” people. People who have achieved things. Things that I want to achieve. They’re the kind of person I aspire to be like. Seemingly, they have it all: money, success, fame, happiness. But… do they?

If you’re comparing yourself to others, and you’re not getting a whole lot of satisfaction from it, read on:

1. I forgot my “why”

I stopped focusing on me and started focusing on them. I thought I wanted what they had. But did I actually want it? Was I just letting jealousy blind me? No and yes. Because I was focusing on them, I started making poor decisions, or, perhaps worse, no decisions, because I just didn’t know what direction to go in.

2. I became demotivated

There were a few times that I actually ended up laying in bed in the fetal position. I wish I was kidding. Solutions became problems. Everything was an obstacle. I couldn’t see a way forward. A few times, I was close to giving up.

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3. I wished I was them

They’re just so successful and rich and have everything they want… why wouldn’t I want to be them? They were already where I wanted to be. So far down their own path. I was jealous. But, did I even stop to think whether or not they were actually happy? Nope. And isn’t that what really matters? For me, absolutely.

4. I forgot that everyone has their own path

Everyone’s different, but it’s a truth we all seem to forget from time to time. I certainly did. I know who I am, and I’m damn proud of it, so why am I trying to copy someone else? I’m not them. They’re not me. If you find yourself trying to copy someone else, have you even bothered to find out who you are?

5. I thought I wasn’t good enough

“How did they do it? How have they achieved so much?” I would often wonder. It’s ok to respect achievement, but I was in danger of becoming so in awe of it that I’d think I could never achieve something like that. Not a fun place to be, and an extremely limiting one. 

6. I rushed

I wanted to speed everything up because I wanted everything they had RIGHT NOW. Deep down, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. The people I was comparing myself to had been working their ass off for years to get where they are and have what they have. Now, it was my turn.

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7. I forgot to be happy

This is an important one. I got so caught up in trying to achieve and make progress no matter what that nothing else even mattered. Not even being happy. I just totally forgot to be grateful for anything. Like the fact I was pursuing a dream. Like the fact that there’s people who would do anything to be in the position I’m in now. And, like the fact that, actually, I’m a happy person.

8. I stopped living in the moment

I was always thinking about the future. When will I “make it”? What will my life be like? This is, of course, very useful to think about from time to time. But I was rarely living in the moment, and it’s hard to be happy if you don’t (trust me. And, if you don’t trust me, trust the research!)

9. I forgot I was in control

When I was comparing myself, I sometimes gave that control away because I’d look at them being so successful right now and I’d feel a bit hopeless. “How will I ever get there?” But then I (chose to) remember that this is my life and I’m the boss. I’m the man. I can make whatever choices I want, whenever I want. So I’ll keep choosing success.

10. I thought they were lucky

A tempting way to think, perhaps, because it conveniently ignores all the hard work they put it and the fact that you could replicate that if you really wanted to. What an outrageous excuse. They’re successful because they’re lucky. Really? Do you think successful people blame luck for their success? Or do they blame themselves?

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11. I forgot that amateurs call it genius, and masters call it practice

I let myself think that all these successful people were somehow blessed with an abundance of talent that allowed them to get where they are today. In actual fact, they just worked really damn hard and never stopped. There’s all sorts of evidence these days suggesting that natural talent barely matters. So what does? Practice. And a lot of it. Being a genius isn’t a requirement for success, and I wasn’t going to continue to use it as an excuse.

12. I forgot that I’ll absolutely, unequivocally, get to where I want to be

Of course I will. This is my dream. This is what I truly want. And, unlike a lot of people, I’m actually getting off my ass and working for it.

13. I forgot that everything takes time

As Warren Buffett once said “You can produce a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant.” A fun experiment though, I reckon.

14. I assumed they’re happy

How did I know they were happy? I didn’t. How could I? I had to remind myself that being rich doesn’t make people happy. We all know that. But, them being successful (in my eyes) doesn’t necessarily make them happy, either. They might not even like their life. I would hope and think they do, but there’s no way of me knowing. They’re rich and successful on the surface, but what else did I really know about them? Nothing. So, being envious of them is pointless. This one was a good lesson for me.

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To conclude…

Comparing yourself to others isn’t a problem unless it’s a problem. If, by comparing yourself to them, you become inspired and motivated and take action, awesome. If, however, you become demotivated, depressed, and unhappy, then that isn’t quite as awesome.

You are good enough and you damn well know it. Stop letting other people control how you feel and determine your worth. That’s up to you. Who are they to you? You don’t even know them. Do you think they’d be happy knowing that you’re comparing yourself to them and getting depressed? I doubt it. How would you feel if you were them?

This is your life. You’re the only one who has to live it. When you believe you’re good enough, when you know you deserve to have what you want, you’ll never compare yourself negatively to anyone ever again.

(If you don’t believe or know that, just read this: The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron-Man Self-Esteem.)

Featured photo credit: mgstanton via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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