Updated: Jun 7, 2019
Stop Sabotaging a Healthy Self Image with Comparison Thinking
Hey, I want that . . .
Oh, the green-eyed-monster -- Envy. It intimidates us and makes us feel not good enough, as if we can't measure up and aren't capable of possessing the qualities we admire in others. If envy could talk, it would say, "You've got it, and I don't. But I want it." Jealousy is a little different; jealousy is when you feel threatened by an outside force and fear something you have will be taken away (i.e. the attention of your mother after your little brother is born or the love of your boyfriend when an attractive woman walks by). The entire basis of envy and jealousy is lack or fear of losing, and as we know, the more we focus on what we don't have or are afraid of, the more we will feel badly about ourselves and attract people, experiences, and situations to mirror our insecurities and fears to us. Let me give you an example . . .
Let's say you are envious of a co-worker who always succeeds and is extremely organized and put-together. On the flip side, you feel like a disorganized failure who struggles to get to work on time every day. In your eyes, this person is a winner, and you are a loser. Each day you compare yourself, focusing on your own lack of organization and inability to rise in the company with any proven success. You may daydream, and think, "I wish I was more like him/her." Wishful thinking is great, but if we don't know how to put this to productive use, we will stay stuck in wounded, low-vibrational energy, riddled with poor self-esteem. Moreover, we will attract in experiences to reinforce our beliefs -- the very people who don't believe in us, situations that accentuate our weaknesses, and relationships that do not value our strengths.
Whether you are comparing yourself with a sibling, friend, co-worker, supermodel, actor, or even to a former version of yourself, you are caught in an unhealthy cycle of comparison thinking. Comparison thinking breeds competition and separation mentality; it spreads feelings of superiority and inferiority instead of honoring individuality and promoting unity. With societal pressure at an all-time high, emphasizing the need to look, be, and act a certain way, it's no wonder insecurities abound, yet we don't share them openly and in most cases keep them tucked away, nice and neat, in our self-critical minds. New-age social media doesn't make "real and imperfect" appealing or acceptable; instead, it perpetuates a culture in which selfies showcase you as fit and perfect (a.k.a. photoshopped), spiritual (a.k.a. in a yoga pose), and totally zen and happy (a.k.a. smooching your hubby). We don't hear about the insecurities behind that perfect pose or the fighting that goes on behind that seemingly perfect relationship or the struggles with diet and exercise that person with the perfect body is battling. We just see it as, "They've got it, and we don't." Then, we loathe and feel resentful and threatened. We loathe the other person, and we loathe ourselves. We turn our focus and inner thoughts to more of what we lack and feed into an already active dialogue of negative self talk. Feeding our inner critic is like loading a gun with ammunition and then shooting ourself with it. It's a dangerous and vicious cycle of trying to live up to impossible standards, when the real focus should be on gratefulness and appreciation of our unique strengths and discovering what our true self worth is really made of.
Most likely, the insecurities you feel are a product of your childhood wounds and the baggage (fear-based thoughts and beliefs) accrued from past hurts and traumas. Peer and societal pressure only magnify what is already alive within you. This is where you have a great opportunity to heal and discover how envy and jealousy can be a real gift for you.
If you are carrying around a core belief of "I'm not good enough," or "I'm not loveable for who I am," you're not alone. These beliefs are the root of ALL insecurities. You may have been abandoned or abused as a child, or something far less traumatic, like being overlooked in your family or feeling inferior to a sibling. In most instances, these core wounds are the place in which we separated from our divine self and began adapting our behavior to fit in or to please or appease others.
So, how do we align with our true self-worth? The answer lies in self remembrance. . .
It's our connection to our own divinity that holds the truth of who we really are. Now, I'm going to say something that may surprise you, but the truth is, if you can pinpoint and recognize what you admire in others (instead of feeling envious and jealous), than you are well on your way to remembering your true self. The resonance you feel when you admire a particular person is showing you the aspects of self that you have yet to claim or have forgotten. Think about who you admire and why. What specific attributes or qualities are you admiring? Now, challenge yourself to take those positive traits and begin trying them on for size, until you discover which aspects feel good and authentic for you. Keep practicing until you claim ownership of these qualities and they become organically who you are. I promise, you will feel like you have just put on your crown. All of the things you thought only others had, were alive within you the entire time. This process is also great for weeding out "real value" vs. what we think we want. For example, if you are envious of somebody's wealth or material possessions, doing this type of self-discovery work can really show you that it isn't material possessions you desire after all and reveal something deeper that is lacking from within. I once had a client tell me that she was happy to be fit and slim but yet admittedly envious of overweight people. When we got to the core of that envy, she described feeling a sense of that they had it easier with more freedom and less pressure to be thin. It was a lightbulb moment for her, as she realized that freedom, allowance, and self-acceptance were aspects she had deprived herself from as she stayed locked in the chains of an unhealthy relationship to diet and exercise within herself. To learn more about how to heal this particular aspect, read our blog Vanity or Vitality?.
The process of discovering our true self-worth can be further enhanced by redefining our values and morals and getting attuned to what we are deserving of and how we desire to be treated by others -- literally, the dollar value you would attach to your own head. Often, in this process, we see where we are out of alignment, where we aren't treating ourselves with honor, respect, and love, and therefore, where we need to heal first from within before our external relationships and world can shift.
Another great tool is connecting to nature, creativity, and spiritual or meditative practices on a daily basis. This further puts us into alignment and helps us to reconnect back with our true spirit. Don't forget the essence of who you are can be found in what you love to do, what makes your soul sing, and your spirit fly free. Begin a practice of doing those things that bring you back to your center, and you will feel your confidence grow and grow.
Love and Accept Yourself
Becoming aware of your inner critic and replacing negative thoughts and comparison thinking with feel-good thoughts focused on your positive attributes, will take mindfulness and practice. First, you must align with your self-worth, as outlined in the paragraphs above, so when you do focus on the positive, it's authentic and not some affirmation band-aid slapped on to make you feel good in the moment. I can pretty much guarantee that if you haven't aligned fully from within, those bandages will peel off when the next wave of triggers or insecurities hits you.
Hopefully, by this point, you will have already learned that you are not "parts of a whole" -- you are the whole. So often, we beat ourselves up for not having shiny hair, skinny thighs, or a tan complexion, or not being athletic or intelligent enough, etc. We forget that we are one whole, cohesive, integrative unit (body, mind, & spirit) worthy of full acceptance and love.
Ask yourself, 'Who am I?'. If you don't know or can't answer that question or your answers are based on things you do or identities you've adopted, then see if you can simply be this:
A divine being who radiates light.
Could you love yourself if you were only this? Give yourself permission to lose the preconceived notions about who you should be and who you thought you were, and step into full self-love and acceptance. This is a process of shedding ego identities, embracing our shadow side (and all imperfect aspects of our self), as well as (re)discovering who we are as connected to our spirit and our divinity. The self-discovery process can be fun, so enjoy it. Remember that confidence radiates from the inside out, and in order to stop looking around at what everyone else has, you must get really good at knowing, accepting and loving yourself.
Kimberly's VU: I see so many women, young and old, struggle with poor body image and self esteem. I, myself, was one of those women. I would feel so insecure and threatened in relationships that I would end up sabotaging them. I didn't know, but came to discover, that I had deep-seeded beliefs around not feeling good enough, pretty enough, seen, loved, and accepted for who I was, and from those beliefs, I built up a lot of evidence. . . I'd attract partners who would cheat on me with the exact look/type of girl I felt inferior to. In order to know why I felt inferior, I had to become aware of the earliest childhood memory I had around this, and it actually dated back to nursery school. A young friend of mine, who was literally a blonde-haired, blue-eyed version of me, garnered the attention and adoration of a little boy I had a crush on. That early taste of jealousy followed by not knowing how to manage my empathic gifts in a dysfunctional household (abandoning myself to care for others), then later my parents abandoning me in my teenage years for a little girl in the neighborhood they saw as "better than me" during those awkward, hormonal and emotional years, and my father's ongoing disapproval of me in early adult years, further solidified the beliefs I had around not being good enough. You could say my self-worth was "upside down." Instead of putting myself first, I sought value and approval from others. I would look around and see it as that others had it better. I began trying to prove myself instead of just being; I found myself out of my true power and repelling people instead of attracting them to me. I was out of touch with who I really was and lacking the ability to see and love myself for me.
When I began doing the deeper inner healing work, as I suggested above for all of you, I had to become the observer of self with these insecurities. I had to stand in the check-out line next to the pretty blonde and feel into my insecurity in order to identify what was really making me feel so awful from within. After doing quite a bit of memory recall and integrative healing techniques, belief shifting, self-observation, and practice reclaiming my true self-worth, I now love myself beyond those insecurities and beyond how I ever imagined I could. I don't look around and imagine the blonde sitting next to me stealing my boyfriend anymore, nor do I compare myself to others who I view as prettier or more successful. I value myself as beautiful from the inside out. I try to see everyone from a soul level, and I find opportunities to better myself and grow into my authenticity via the awareness of what I admire in others.
Post by Kimberly Alleyna www.spiritualmaterialgirl.com @spiritualmaterialgirl
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