Being ambitious can have major side effects.
Certainly ambition compels us to dream big, innovate faster, and to take bold risks… But because we ambitious ones know exactly what it is we want, we are also acutely aware of whether we have it or not.
Sometimes instead of our fervent desires acting as propellors, we fall prey to the why don’t I have it yet? and the why does she have it and not me? which, to be sure, is the precursor to the sinister Comparicitis.
Comparicitis | noun | \kəm-ˈperˈə sī-təs\ : A state of frustration characterized by a feeling of not-good-enough-ism caused by comparing oneself to others, and seeing one’s life and achievements as paling in comparison to others’.
Yes, Comparicitis has always existed. Our great grandparents were comparing hairdos and petticoats, and our ancient ancestors were probably wishing for better caves or water holes.
However, nowadays, it’s getting intense ’round here. With Facebook, Instagram, and insert whatever social media (SM) platform you dig , it’s like comparison is on steroids.
We are constantly bombarded by what other people are doing, saying, having, and, err… eating. Whereas before the span of comparison was with the other members of your bridge club, now it’s global. You’re able to compare yourself with people from all over the world and back… which, sometimes, leaves you with self-defeating thoughts, impatience, angst, and a sour case of the grumps.
It’s enough to make a grown girl cry.
(I mean, knock yourself out if you fancy a good sob sesh’, but I’m assuming you’re reading this to cure your Comparicitis, be it transitory or chronic. So let’s get into it.)
Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and wise words they are.
Inevitably, when we compare ourselves to others, stinking-thinking ensues, making us forget our value and all our accomplishments. And, yes, these thoughts steal every iota of joy. But it gets worse. Because then cognitive dissonance comes around, i.e. we know this type of thinking is unrealistic and absurd. We know that there’s SO much we do have, and that we should be profoundly grateful… so then we feel sheepish for even thinking these thoughts! A vicious and unhelpful cycle.
According to our friend Tony Robbins, when our lives don’t match our personal “blueprint” of what we want them to look like, it causes frustration and anxiety. As such, when we see others having what we wish were present in our own lives, the stinging commences.
And since we can probably wager that social media isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and we have places to go and work to do, dag nammit… getting a handle on Comparicitis is essential.
When an attack of Comparicitis hits, the best quick fix in the moment is exercise. Sure it may seem unrelated, but nothing, and I mean nothing, is more effective to reboot your mind, body, and spirit, than a sweaty workout session. In addition to all the endorphins and feel-good hormones, it’s also empowering and cleansing. Sweat it out, and feel the pride that comes after a good workout. Suddenly, Veronica’s Greek vacay isn’t irking you as much because your derrière’s lookin’ mighty tight.
Remember: Exercise is more powerful a remedy for depression than any anti-depressant, and taking care of yourself — your body and your well-being — does wonders for your morale.
Notice what it is that you admire (or envy even) in others. What is it that you wish you had that someone else does?
First off — go you for having goals and desires. Acknowledge that. Own your ambition. But now let’s transmute any envy into inspiration. Being aware of what it is that you want is incredibly powerful for goal setting, and hence for transmutation.
Now, write down the qualities/things that others have that you’d like, and then start to make actual plans to achieve your objectives. For example, say that you want to travel more — write down this goal, followed by a few steps that could help you get there. (Tim Ferriss’ Dreamlining system is very effective. Check it out – it’s under Chapter 4.)
For example: Desire: To Travel At least Once a Year. Action steps over the next 6 months: Save X amount of dollars/euros/pounds per month, only buy one coffee/bubble tea per week, start researching opportunities or yoga retreats, etc.
Remember: You’re a work in progress… so you must work, after all, to make that progress. Make a plan, and take action now. Suddenly you’re feeling pumped because you realize it’s in your hands. Take back your power, and take personal responsibility for your life.
Once you’ve hit the gym, and done a little self reflection, it’s important to start implementing habits that will sustain you, and put up a shield against whatever Comparicitis fodder life (or Facebook) throws your way.
Though “counting your blessings” seems trite and 100% mom advice, it’s actually very effective if you put it into action. So…
Get a small notebook, and every night before bed write down three things that you value about yourself OR three examples of value that you added in the world that day. (Or a combo of both.) This is a powerful exercise, but you must commit to feel its power. Meaning, give it a month of writing three things down, and then see how you feel. I’m not a math girl, but 3 x 31 seems to be about 93 reasons to feel fantastic.
Get that pen out again (I know, I’m so old school) and a big piece of paper. Make a timeline starting with when you were born all the way up to the present year. (You know what’s coming…) Start putting important moments and accomplishments all along your timeline. So, for example: 1984, started walking – woohoo! …. 2001, got accepted into my top college with a scholarship, etc. Once you’re done filling in all you’ve achieved in your life, you can sit back and marvel. Look at all you’ve done and all you’ve been through! I know you have so much more to do in the future, but don’t forget how far you’ve come.
Though it’s a huge contributor to Comparicitis, I’m not suggesting you cease and desist social media — although I do know someone who has to marvelous effect — because, whether we like it or not, we’d be remiss to disregard its relevance and practicality in 2016.
Tip: Before you connect to any SM site, decide what it is you’ll tend to, and how long you’ll spend. Then set a timer. This way you’ll be much less likely to fall into the bottomless black hole, looking at pictures of babies belonging to a girl you went to middle school with. *shudders*
Let’s get spiritual for a sec.
I don’t even need to be acquainted with you personally to know that you have the capacity to add value to this world. It comes with “the life package,” you could say. Every human has the potential to love, and be loved. To make decisions. To choose to do good instead of harm. To show kindness. To seek to grow, to improve, to flourish. Regardless of circumstances.
Let us do ourselves a favor and savor our own paths, because each has its own beauty, challenges, and idiosyncrasies… which, collectively, make for a pretty fascinating world.
You are going places, I’m sure of it,