I grew up comparing myself to others, specifically my sister. I was timid and shy. My sister (1.5 years younger than I) was a fearless powerhouse. Nothing stopped her. When we were both in grade school, we had created projects for the yearly science fair. That year she was in third grade. As my parents drove us to drop the projects off at the school, my sister stated that she knew she would win. My parents thought she was ridiculous and demeaned her sense of accomplishment and inner knowing. She won the grand prize of the entire elementary school, grades 1-6. Even though I was the older sister, it was hard not to see myself as less than her.
What happens when we compare?
When we compare ourselves to others, we are basically saying, “I shouldn’t be the way I am.” “I’m not good enough.” “I should be like him or her.” When we do this, we are overlooking our own gifts and our own unique qualities. We are making ourselves less than and putting ourselves down. We are doing the opposite of empowering ourselves.
While my sister was a force to be reckoned with, I was very sensitive. My sensitivity is also a gift, although I didn’t know that when I was younger or recognize it as a gift for many years.
How do I shift my energy when I begin to compare myself?
- Realize that you are comparing. Sometimes we compare ourselves to others, and we don’t even know it. It is something we do automatically and unconsciously. If you have low self-esteem, you are likely comparing yourself to others and giving yourself negative messages.
- Your inner critic. You may have an inner critic. If you do, identify her (or him), and give her a name. That will help you notice when she steps up and puts you down.
- Think about what is positive or good about yourself. Write down a list. What I like about myself or what I appreciate about myself is… For example, I like that I listen to others. I like that I am kind and compassionate. I like that I am intuitive.
- Be aware that you may want to develop some of the qualities you compare yourself to. Over the years, I have become much more able to hold my own, like my sister does. Because she was my hero for years, I’ve worked to develop some of the skills that she had innately. I can think of so many situations where a person was in a relationship with someone “creative,” only to find out once they developed their own creativity, they didn’t need to put that person on a pedestal anymore. They simply had to find their own creativity, which was calling to be focused on and developed.
- Treat yourself as if you are your best friend or a child. How do we treat a child who is upset? We are kind, supportive. We soothe. We kiss the boo-boo and put on a band-aid. Your inner child also needs to be treated that way. Tend your inner child! Tell the sad or upset part of you how much you care about her. Tell her you love her. Tell her she is special and important to you. Tell her about her good qualities. Inner child work is compelling. You might want to draw her or give her a name, but whatever you, treat her with care and love.
My sister and I are both adults now. We’ve both changed a lot. I’ve learned so much from who she is. I’ve both learned to recognize my own gifts and developed those that she embodied. I no longer compare myself or beat myself up about perceived shortcomings. I simply look at what I wish to change about myself and get to work!