Comparing Yourself to Others: Horrible Idea!
This is a treacherous thing to do to yourself. Believe me, I know. When you wallow in comparing your life to other peoples then...Self-doubt emerges, insecurities surface, criticisms come to light, etc. All that ugliness you manage every day is there screaming in your ear. At the end of this exercise you lay in a pool of misery. Who won? No one!
Envy – Envy for me is like that bitchy sister who is constantly in your ear telling you stuff. She tells you, “Gurhl, look at those clothes they have! They are much nicer than yours”. “Gurl, look she's got a man and you can't even keep one”. “Gurhl, she's way prettier than you”. “Gurl, look they are skinner than you”. And so on, and so on...
What I think about this person?
Smack that beyatch down! Figuratively speaking.
When those tapes are played in your head then you lose. You lose all the hard work you've done in building yourself up. All the work you've done to get some self-esteem. All those years you spent affirming and learning to be kinder to yourself are out the window.
I've learned to literally say out loud, “Stop!” I know it freaks some people out but it is an automatic stop button. These free flowing thoughts will continue to make their way into your mind. These thoughts are no use to anyone. They are old tapes that are out of date. Not useful. Not productive.
The Story Battle: “Well, I remember when..."
Another emotional activity that I find incredibly useless is when you are engaging with someone in “The Story Battle”. It's when you are talking with someone and they always, it never fails, always have a better story than you, their adventures are more exciting than yours, their misdeeds bordered on incarceration, or they've experienced the depths of despair worse than you. You know the one...
What do I say to their mental gymnastics when this occurs. Now, first, I acknowledge their experience, smile, and walk quickly away. They are headed into a brick wall and I can't stop them.
If they are a friend, I'll try to talk to them about what they are doing but chances are they aren't going to hear me. Friends have told me the same story again and again. What I've noticed is, over time, the stories effect diminishes. Their learning what they need to from it. I guess it takes a few times to truly understand the experience by looking at it from all angles.
What I know is when you stop engaging with this destructive behavior - “The Story Battle” - it helps you, not the inappropriateness of it. It saves you from the mental anguish of digging into the recess of your mind to find the worst of the worst or the best of the best. This activity is not productive to either of you.
Shared emotional experiences are witnessed like watching a TV show. You can empathize with someones journey, but here is the lesson- you can not re-live it for them. You don't know the emotional pain they are in. You won't ever know the darkness they felt. You won't ever know anything about their experience. All you can do is to listen, acknowledge, comfort (if necessary), and celebrate their experience.
What I know is...
When this kind of thinking and people present themselves to me, I'm pretty keen on what is going on now. I know what to do, now. I've fallen for it a few times. I've engaged. I've learned.
I'm on my own path of healing and recovery. I can't let someone else throw me off of it with outlandish and destructive behaviors. This includes myself and my old tapes.
It reminds me of the instructions given to you when you are ready for take off in a plane, “Put your mask on first”. Taking care of yourself is essential. Allowing someone (including your old self) to take you off your journey of self discovery is not possible unless you let them. Keep an eye out for this behavior. Cause I know I am..XOXO, Nick