The Better Me Project—Day 24
Last day of “Lower Your Expectations”…I swear. Damn, that seemed to go on forever, didn’t it? Anyway, I want to talk about one of the easiest ways I’ve found to lower my expectations—don’t compare yourself to others.
That Green-eyed Monster
Jealousy…yikes. I’m sure we can all attest to a time in our lives when we felt jealous, dating way back to childhood. Your brother got the toy you wanted, your sister got to sleep over your grandmother’s house, maybe both of them were allowed to stay up way past your bedtime. When you got a little older, this didn’t end. Maybe your sister got the car you wanted, your cousin’s hair was nicer than yours, your best friend’s boyfriend was sweeter than yours. Even as adults, the green-eyed monster seems to rear its ugly head, despite the fact that we have much more control over our lives than we did when we were seven and seventeen. We drool over the pool our neighbor is putting in, we feel a stab of longing while scrolling over our friend’s vacation pics on Facebook (another reason to limit our time on social media), we wish we could get a kick-ass book deal like an author friend of ours.
A Little Bit of Jealousy is Good
It’s totally normal to feel this way sometimes and despite the fact you’ve heard otherwise, jealousy can create positive outcomes. * Yup, it’s true. It can help you strive for the goals you want to accomplish by giving you incentive. It can also give you direction and ideas on how to accomplish what you want. If I’m jealous of a friend with a book deal, I need to evaluate what she did to get that deal. Being jealous can actually open doors in this way.
But It’s Bad Too
Jealousy can cause a lot of internal conflict (and external as well) when we start comparing ourselves to others and beating ourselves up because we’re not measuring up. Making comparisons to other people can make us feel crappier about ourselves than we already do.
So this is what I vowed to stop doing when I said I would lower my expectations. I would stop thinking of myself in terms of how I stack up to others and instead I would only compare myself to ME. I will ask myself, “Am I doing better than I was yesterday?” instead of “How am I doing in comparison to her?”. The grass may be greener, but it’s always greener when you water it.
Life is a Journey
We are all in different places in our journey. It’s really not fair or productive of me to compare myself to someone on a different journey. I really don’t know what they’ve been through to get there. For most people, all I am seeing is this point in time. I have no idea how they got to this particular part of their life. And I can’t make assumptions that they’re journey has been easy. People might see me and think that I’ve got everything. They don’t have any idea what I’ve been through to get there.
Caveat: While it might seem productive to compare yourself to others who seem WORSE off than you are (kind of as a motivator, like, oh at least I’m not as bad as so-and-so), that’s not a good idea either. Mostly because of that whole “Everyone is on their own journey” thing. Since you don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life, you really can’t evaluate what they’re doing based on yours.
Obviously, it’s not too easy to do this—and sometimes it is a helpful reminder of what we should be thankful of—but the best thing to do is to be mindful of negative thoughts.
I’m Doing the Best That I Can
So, I guess my whole takeaway from Lower Your Expectations is to examine what I’m doing and realize that I really AM doing the best that I can. I need to STOP beating myself up by comparing my life to the lives of others. I need to STOP expecting myself to be Superwoman—I’ve got to SAY NO, ASK FOR HELP, and DO LESS. And I can’t forget the fact I need to STOP seeing my mistakes as permanent failures. They’re opportunities for growth.
I really AM trying and I need to take everything one day at a time, one step at a time. It’s a journey, right? I am going to sit back and enjoy the ride.
*”5 Reasons Why Jealousy is a Good Thing”, Huff Post (7/1/14)