The well known saying:
“Comparison is the thief of joy” is true. You will either feel superior when you are better off than some and inferior when you are worse off than others. Neither is a good place to be. How we feel about ourselves should not be based on where we stand in relation to others. We should not be using others as our yardstick because then we risk the danger of making them our idol.
As a teenager, around 15 I had a friend who I idolised. She was confident, pretty, popular, academic and creative – basically everything I was not. I would watch the way she spoke to peers with ease whilst I struggled socially, generally preferring to speak to people on a one to one basis. She knew how to push herself forward and remain visible whilst I stayed very much in the background. I tried to become more outgoing and it lasted all of a week. I did not know it then but I was an introvert, preferring solitude and a lot of time alone to gather my thoughts. I was also ridiculously shy. I cannot remember exactly when but it may have been the first year of college when I stopped comparing myself with this friend. I stopped beating myself up that I was not more like her and began to accept myself. Making new friends at college also helped.
Unless we are very close to someone, we only see what they present whether in person or on social media. People still hold back on parts of their lives they do not wish to share (me included) and this is fine. It would therefore be naive of us to believe we know the ins and outs of someone’s life when really we only see snippets here and there and rarely the whole picture.
Comparing ourselves with others brings no benefit. Admiring others who inspire us is healthy but going on to weigh up their life with yours is unhealthy and will lead to discontentment. Resentment can trickle in unbeknown to the other person who is busy getting on with their life as should you
What are your views and experiences of comparison?
Many are plagued with doubt and the inability to trust their own judgement. This could be due to low self-esteem, past failures, or criticism. When we doubt ourselves and our abilities it is difficult to step out into new opportunities. Doubt can hold us bound, causing us to second guess ourselves. Have you ever been in a situation where you begin to question your actions when there is no evidence to suggest you are in the wrong or made an error? I have – it was crippling and chipped away at my self-confidence.
I have learnt not to yield to doubt by ensuring where possible that I have enough information to hand when starting a task or project. I tend to doubt myself when I am not well informed. Unfortunately I cannot control every situation I find myself in therefore I must learn to deal with my attitude towards doubt. It always serves me to remember that no one person knows everything. No one person has the answers. Many succeed through trial and error as they are not fearful of making a mistake.
Look at the entrepreneurs of their time, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs – they did not arrive to success without failing along the way. They also took risks which meant having the confidence to push forward with their ideas and plans.
When we doubt ourselves, others will do the same. When we are bold in our actions it installs confidence in those around us. People will struggle to believe in you if you do not believe in yourself.
Tips on dealing with doubt:
1. Accept that you are doubtful- you cannot deal with an issue if you do not first acknowledge it exists
2. Stop underestimating your abilities and note down your skill set – we take many of our skills and expertise for granted as we do them daily. They become a part of us.
3. Take on the new opportunity/project and decide to master it as you go along.
To round up, doubt can hinder you if you allow it. The feelings of uncertainty will come but you can choose to take a step in the right direction.
How do you dealt with self-doubt?
How would you encourage others who struggle in this area?
Forgiveness is a touchy subject as many have endured terrible experiences in which they have suffered hugely. There are acts people have carried out that are truly abhorrent and in my eyes there is no coming back from. However, I do not have the right to dictate who should forgive and who deserves to be forgiven. In my life I have been on the receiving end of cruelty by words and actions. I too have dished out harsh words and carried out actions which have hurt others.
Choosing to forgive is more about you than the other person. In some circumstances the other person has no idea you are even holding anything against them. They are getting on with their life, oblivious that the words they flippantly spoke ten/twenty years ago are impacting on you. Even if they are aware of their actions, you can choose not to be bound by the past. You are unlikely to feel like forgiving and will find reasons why you are within your right not to. Forgiveness starts with intention. It must be deliberate. If we allow our feelings to lead the way, we will fail to do so.
I have had to forgive in order to move on with my life, not for the other party but for me. I no longer wanted to be bound by the past and remunerate what was said, what was done, how I felt – it was exhausting. In some circumstances I took years to forgive and the journey was long and hard but I arrived at this point. On reflection I can admit the unforgiveness ate at me, it made me resentful, angry and miserable. I spent years asking why my life panned out as it did. I was deeply unhappy throughout my teenage years because of several situations I has no control over. I smiled and laughed but inside I was broken. I learnt to hide it – probably far too well which affected me emotionally.
When we are betrayed, hurt, abused or overlooked we should not dismiss the emotions as they are real. Deceiving ourselves will not bring any form of healing. I believe we have a responsibility to remove ourselves (where possible) from the company of people who mean us harm. We must look after ourselves and our well being.
To round up, forgiveness will bring you freedom in your mind and loose you from past ties. It will enable you to live in the here and now rather than the past. It will enable you to shake off the old you and embrace the new you. It will enable you to have an element of joy and peace.
Do it for yourself even if not for the other person.
Do you struggle with forgiveness choosing to hold onto it or do you easily forgive?
Sometimes we have unnecessary battles with others because we want to make a point that we are right. In some cases we are but does this mean we should continue to push? Depending on the circumstances there may be a need to push as we are facing injustice. In other cases it is simply our ego coming into play. I do not like being wrong and I doubt many others do either however I have no qualms in holding my hands up whenever I have made an error. I am less willing to accept the blame when I am not in the wrong.
I have had many encounters where I have fought to prove I am in fact right. I am passionate particularly if this falls into my working world as I take my responsibilities seriously. Also reputation is important to me.
As a child and teenager, though quiet and very much an introvert, I could not stand being wronged. I would argue my case and feel nothing but anger when the person ‘shut me down’. I would want to close the conversation at a place where I felt both parties had their point taken but unfortunately this was not always the case.
Even today I will make my point and I have realised that sometimes seeking peace is preferable to being right. I know what I know – does it matter if they do not know what I know? I am a person who tends to over explain and this derives from times in my life when I have felt completely misunderstood by others. I have come from one angle and the person has come from another, therefore they misjudged what I had said.
I have learnt there is a time to take a stand and a time to let “it”go. We require wisdom to determine which we do and when. Wisdom certainly comes through experience and understanding what is truly important in life. What matters today may not matter in six months time.
Do you lean towards peace or proving you are right?
What are the reasons for this?
We put boundaries in place to protect ourselves and others. Boundaries define how far we can go and what is reasonable. Boundaries ensure there are no blurred lines, misunderstandings, stepping over the mark. Boundaries reduce the likelihood of over familiarity between friends and family members. Boundaries ensure we respect the wishes of others though we may not always agree with them.
Babies and toddlers have no understanding of boundaries, they cry whenever they need feeding, a nappy change, attention or just a cuddle. They have no consideration of their parents who may be tired and frustrated. They want it and they want it now. However we pardon them time and time again because they are young and know no better.
As a child and teenager I had boundaries and routine and am thankful to my mother for them. Boundaries meant I had a stable upbringing. I knew when my mum said no, she meant no. I knew what time I had to arrive home when out and about with friends – usually several hours before I actually wanted to arrive home. Though I did not like the rules, I respected them and they in turn gave me an element of security. Boundaries reminded me that I was loved and cared for, that my safety was my mother’s priority. It did not stop me from being envious of my friends who had far more leeway than me.
As adults we have the responsibility of putting boundaries in place with family, friends and in the workplace. At first it may be uncomfortable for those who are less assertive. If you are naturally passive you may struggle to say what you mean and be open about what you want and do not want. People will expect you to do as you have always done. It is your prerogative to change the rules at any time. If you feel pressured to make a decision, you can advise the person you will confirm with them at a later date. This will provide time for you to give it some thought and return with an answer you are happy with.
To conclude, setting boundaries are a part of life. At times they do not require an introduction, it is simply your way of living. I know a couple who do not answer their phone when eating or having family time. They did not inform anyone of this rule, instead people learnt they were uncontactable between 6 and 9pm in the evening and had no choice but to honour this.
Are you confident in setting boundaries?
Have you seen the advantage in doing so?
What advice would you give to those who struggle to do so?
Though it is called our comfort zone, is it really comfortable in the long run? Staying in our comfort zone means we will rarely progress, enhance or develop. It means our situation is unlikely to improve in the future. Choosing to push out today means you will reap the fruit of your works tomorrow. It will not feel comfortable, in fact at times it will feel downright terrifying. However those who can visualise their future and are focused will put in what is required in order to reap the rewards. There is no “cheaters guide” or “quick fix” otherwise everyone and their uncle would have joined the bandwagon.
Those who stay in their comfort zone miss opportunities to use their skills and talents. They miss out on living a life of purpose.
The reasons for this may include:
1. Fear of failure- the thought of trying and failing is worse than not trying at all
2. Lack of self belief – choosing to believe the lies that you cannot achieve
3. Lack of support from those around – little or no interest from friends and family, the very people you expect to care.
Where possible I have aimed to live outside of my comfort zone as I know it will bring great prospects. It has been challenging as I have signed up to participate in activities and projects where I have certainly felt out of my depth. Naturally I am an introvert and was shy as a child. By the time I had reached my late teens I saw no benefit to being shy at all and instead recognised the hindrance it brought. As the years went on I forced myself out of my shyness. I signed up for public speaking and joined a worship team. The nerves are still present but not to the extent that I feel nauseous – just a few butterflies in my stomach which keep me on my toes.
What small steps can you take to move away from your comfort zone:
1. Step out and do something you have never done before – go to the cinema alone, eat out alone – you could start with sitting in a coffee shop (I have done both)
2. Write down your goals and vision and identify the hindrance – you may notice a pattern
To round up, we all have fears and challenges. Some step out despite their fears and others allow their fears to dictate what they do and do not do. Which category do you fall into?
What did it take to move you out of your comfort zone?
Perhaps you are still in your comfort zone and are quite happy here.
Either way I look forward to reading your comments.
Many employees and business owners are signing up to having career coaches, from junior level right up to CEO level. Coaches will more often than not be senior to the individual. They are not required to work in the same business area/department as the individual.
Career coaches assist with the following;
1. Give you an understanding of yourself
2. Assist with helping to identify the right role you will thrive in
3. Help you stay clear and focused on where to go next in your career
4. Provide an external perspective on you and your situation
I have had a career coach for just over a year. Initially I had my doubts; how much preparation would I be expected to do before each session, how long would I need to commit, what value would it truly add to my personal development? I have a heavy workload as well as line manage a team of officers and wondered how I would also accommodate this.
Fast forward a year and I am benefiting greatly from having a career coach.
I have covered;
1. Where I currently am and where I would like to be
2. Finding practical solutions to short term challenges
3. Identifying opportunities to progress in my current role and beyond
4. Identifying my skill set
In my coaching sessions I find solutions to my challenges. My coach asks me a series of questions in order for me to explore further. More often than not the answer sat with me all along. I am learning about myself more and more. I take responsibility for my growth rather than resorting to laying the blame elsewhere. Without thinking, we can make excuses for our lack of progress and hide behind it. The truth is nobody wants us to progress more than we do therefore we need to decide to follow the right steps in order to achieve the required outcome.
If you are considering taking on a career coach, reflect on what you hope to achieve. You should have key goals, objectives and a defined purpose. You are responsible for ensuring regular coach sessions take place as this is your space, your learning, your development. Always attend coaching sessions with a laptop and/or a notepad to take notes. Ideas will come to mind whilst you are in mid flow.
Do you have a coach?
What have you gained from the coaching sessions?
What advice would you give?