Is the Grass Really Greener on the Other Side?
"Compare Leads to Despair"
My wife and I purchased our new home in Sudbury, Massachusetts last July; this is a huge win for our family! I am sitting outside this morning on my front steps and feeling grateful and abundant. A symphony of birds serenade me as the sun rises over the tall pines. The warm and bright rays touch my skin for the first time today - finally breaking the grip of winter. Flowers and trees are bursting with color; I am truly blessed!
But... my lawn, it's a disaster!
When we moved in last year, I did not make time to fuss over the lawn, nor did I want to poison my yard with a bunch of toxic fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides. As long as it was green, that was fine with me. Unfortunately, it did not take long before my beautiful lawn was full of crab grass. Then, the grubs came and feasted all summer, and finally, a skunk moved in and tore up the yard while dining on a steady supply of fat juicy grubs. By late summer, my lawn was destroyed.
I cannot help but to compare my mess of a lawn to my neighbor’s pristine and perfectly manicured green oasis. In fact, my neighborhood is full of lawn perfection everywhere I look. It is amazing to me how much real estate these thoughts of lawn inadequacy take up in my mind. The truth is I frequently catch myself comparing myself to others in all kinds of ways. My friends are better athletes and musicians; my colleagues have more professional certifications; my sister makes more money; he drives a nicer car and on and on and on. The comparisons never end.
I have learned and fully embrace that comparing myself to others promote a mindset of scarcity and inadequacy. When these thoughts and feelings are left unchecked, they send many of us down a road of anxiety and depression. Compare leads to despair! I do not know much about making a beautiful lawn, but if I take a closer look, I am clearly full of skills, incredible life experiences, and surrounded by abundance. I also know that creating a beautiful lawn is a process requiring planting, watering, sunshine, and patience. I did not mention that my two neighbors with their heavenly lush and perfectly manicured yards are both professional landscapers.
During my weight-loss group sessions, one of my first talking points is to remind everyone that we are all on different roads in route to success. Someone in the group will lose 30 pounds, and another may gain a few. What others do not always see is the struggle, challenge and history before finding success.
My client Jane, 60, a department manager, came to me to work on managing stress and anxiety. She noted a pattern of consistently comparing herself to her peers. She never felt “good enough” and described the other managers skillfully creating fancy and colorful spreadsheets and having good command over office technology. Because she felt inadequate as a manager, she described overcompensated by taking on extra projects and responsibilities. She discussed immediately responding to everyone’s emails and requests and went home routinely after 10-hour shifts only to suffer with chronic anxiety and headaches. To make matters worse, she described the other managers "effortlessly" gliding through the day and logging out at 5:00 PM or so she perceived.
Jane’s breakthrough occurred when she stopped comparing herself to her colleagues. As a department manager, she did not have to know how to run office machines; she could simply delegate. She also knew her department was exceptionally organized and did not need to show it on fancy spreadsheets. She stopped "doing" like everyone else and started “being” the strong leader that she was well qualified to be. She also stopped worrying about her emails and noticed her team begin to solve their own challenges. She also worked on completing her shift at a "normal" time and made time for both daily exercise and a meditation routine. As a result, Jane eventually stopped taking anxiety medication and her department was recognized as a model by her supervisor.
I challenge you this week to notice comparing yourself to others. You are already enough, incredibly talented, and very successful across your life. When you take on a new skill or project, remember, your results will not come right away, and they will not look like your neighbors lawn. At the same time, if you plant the seeds, water, feed and give lots of sunshine, your project with be the envy of the neighborhood!
Do you want to learn how to challenge your thoughts of inadequacy? I am offering free online sessions this week on Thursday, May 28th at 7:00 PM ET, and Saturday, May 30th at 11:00 AM ET. Please message me for details or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive Zoom details and a calendar invite.