Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

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The Comparison Trap: Don’t fall in the black hole…

Hello and welcome to the fall! I am back after a summer of amazing moments, lots of learning and loads of chill. I’m excited to start back blogging and teaching this month… so let’s go:

One of the ways we cause ourselves untold suffering is to join the race of comparison that is so widely accepted in our culture today. How many times do the thoughts, probably subconsciously, enter your minds: she’s happier, he’s faster, I’m not as smart, they have more, she’s prettier….. the list goes on. It even extends to our children, who were born knowing they are good enough but are programmed to believe they need to do better, have more, do more… to be more. The destination of this route is dead-end, unsatisfied, despairsville.  Not only do these thoughts become more automatic the more they are not addressed, the more despair, anxiety and stress you will feel. But aren’t they motivating, you ask? That depends… not if your self-esteem relies on it..

 

News flash: No-one can make you feel inadequate, only you can.

 

Hey, don’t club yourself for having caveman thoughts… they’re part of our evolution! Those that were most competitive, aggressive and on top survived eons ago when they had to in times of scarcity. However, just as with our forever-turned-on fight or flight stress response, it’s rarely necessary now (I promise). Times have changed! Now our survival depends on collaboration and cooperation, and our peace of mind does too.

Mindfulness lets us slow down (getting antsy already? Don’t worry, you’ll survive), notice the thoughts that are causing us distress and notice how they affect us. Do you feel bad about yourself, become tense, react negatively, compensate somehow? When our self-esteem relies on winning, that’s a precarious situation, like sitting on a life raft. There will always be a bigger wave, and when you conquer it, the elation never lasts.  Plus, all the thrashing about upsets the boat more, and sadly steers you away from all that YOU really love and desire.

In his book “The Mindful Athlete”, George Mumford, coach of some of the best athletes, reminds us that we can either mindlessly react or mindfully respond to whatever happens to us. If we’re always REACTING to life it’s as if we’re being thrown around in a lifeboat, dependent on the weather out there.

If we can slow down and operate from the center of the storm, in full awareness of our thoughts, we can RESPOND to life’s challenges with a *lot* more grace and power, in alignment with who we truly are.

We need to cultivate our “Response-ability”. Cultivating the ability to choose our most empowered response is what our mindfulness practice is all about, not reacting to others, or to some lurking feeling of inadequacy.

 

Ok, here’s your work: When you feel discomfort, ask yourself if there are any thoughts of comparison going on. If so, notice them, flush them out, be kind and remind yourself you’re enough already, doing the best you can, with all your quirky strengths and weaknesses. Imagine the craziness of living YOUR unique life from some other random person’s standards. Not cool.

 

Now go forth, reach for YOUR unique goals and desires, LOVE the journey, and CELEBRATE your and other’s successes.  You rock!

 

ps. a note about kiddies… nothing wrong with some good encouragement to do THEIR very best 🙂 What more could you ask for?

 

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