When I lived in Los Angeles, I had a permanent case of comparison-itis. Whether I was at work, out to dinner, taking a yoga class, or spending my paychecks at Whole Foods, I was constantly comparing myself to the women around me. Even if I started the day feeling content with my skin/hair/weight/wardrobe/career achievements, I inevitably spent a good portion of each day consumed by one or more (sometimes all) of the following thoughts:
- “She has perfect skin. And she probably doesn’t even need to wear makeup. I’m so ugly. I’m never leaving my apartment again without a pound of foundation on my skin.”
- “She is so tall and thin. And she has perfect teeth. How can one human being be so genetically gifted?”
- “I have been taking five yoga classes a week for six months, and my body doesn’t look ANYTHING like hers. I need to stop eating if I want to get rid of my buffalo butt/thunder thighs/Buddha belly.”
- “If my boyfriend was with me at this restaurant and saw HER, he would leave me instantly. And frankly I wouldn’t blame him. I mean, LOOK at me . . .“
- “She has only been at this law firm for a year longer than I have, and she is already on track to make partner. I guess that’s what happens when you are naturally brilliant and charismatic. I hope I don’t get fired …”
Listening to these thoughts play on repeat day in and day out made me miserable (and not a lot of fun to be around, I’m sure). I put such unfair and unreasonable expectations on myself that I lost sight of any good qualities and talents that I had. Comparison envy was sucking the life out of me and destroying my spirit.
Then I found mindset work. I discovered a lot about the how the mind works, uncovered exactly why I had the thought patterns that I did, and I finally understood the science behind compounded negative thoughts. Now the mindset phrase “thoughts become things” is an everyday saying, because I’ve applied it in my own life time and time again. I now know that what I think about I bring about, and the only thing standing in the way of a happy and successful day is my thoughts. So I made a choice to stop investing my energy in envy, and chose instead to be inspired by what I saw in other people. I started to see that the things someone else has or does are also inside of me, just expressed in a different way.
I also started a gratitude journal. Each night before I go to bed, I write a list of the positive things that I am grateful for – a great conversation with my friend, an exhilarating workout, or a sweet kiss from my husband. But I also express gratitude for the not-so-great things, because they give me the opportunity to reframe my perceptions, choose how to respond, and learn and grow. So instead of agonizing over the size and shape of my thighs, I am grateful that my legs allow me to run, play, and dance (not very well, mind you, but I do it anyway). Rather than agonizing over financial challenges, I focus on how my life is abundant in so many other ways.
Here is my challenge for you: start a gratitude journal of your own. Set the intention to write down at least three “good” things and three challenging/disappointing/frustrating things each night. Keep at it for at least three weeks. Then step back and think about the shifts that you have experienced. Has your sleep quality improved? Are you waking up in a better mood? Feeling more optimistic each day?
If you are willing to share the results of your journaling experience, I would love to hear from you!