Comparison holds a significant place in our growth. With positive comparison, growth happens. With negative comparison, growth is halted. I prefer to share experiences where positive comparison has lifted and helped me, especially during the times when negative comparison was threatening my growth potential.
Being raised as an only child to a single grandmother would naturally pose comparison opportunities. I would negatively compare what other 'real' families were like and longed for such circumstances. However, I was constantly surrounded by friends and church leaders who helped me focus on the positive aspect of comparing, and what I mean here is stopping and smelling my own roses instead of leaning over the fence to smell someone else's. I was reminded over and over again of all the blessings I had, regardless of what I thought I was missing out on.
I quickly found opportunities from that experience to surround myself with the positive inspiration that I so desperately needed. I learned to focus on my talents and gifts that I had to offer others which led to my growth. I was inspired by those that I deeply admired and strove to be like them, in a healthy way. I learned how to dance, play basketball, be a youth leader, and teach seminary by watching others and emulating how they did it. I became successful in these areas because of my positive inspiration not comparison!
Fast forward many years later and I still find myself doing the same thing. If I want to be skilled at something, I take the time to learn it for myself, from creditable resources or from a trusted mentor. When our family needed greater financial self reliance, Jeremy and I took a finance class divinely sponsored by our church. When I needed support while Jeremy was working through active recovery from his struggle with pornography, I sought for support groups that would lift and lead me in the right direction of growth. When I needed help with my businesses endeavors, I sought those who understand what it's like to run a personal training business. When I felt stagnant from learning while all of my kids entered school, I sought personal growth conferences. When I didn't know how to successfully run my first half marathon, I trained with friends, read books and did research. These have been sources of positive inspiration to me when threats of comparison lurked in the corners of my thoughts. I see a need that I have and search for answers through the talents and gifts that others have been given.
Right now, me and Jeremy are embarking on a fun, scary journey of entrepreneurship. I started a business in Personal Training and Nutrition Counseling last August; physically helping those who struggle to know how to eat and exercise for their body type. and last May he started a business in High Performance Coaching; mentally helping those who have struggled with pornography to move past the addiction and experience more clarity and productivity in all of their personal and professional relationships. One day, we eventually plan to merge our businesses so that our talents can help people mentally and physically, both aspects of the body that are essential to care for.
This has definitely been a rollercoaster of comparison for us. We're definitely not the only leaders in this industry and it's been a rough start. We have negatively compared ourselves to those who have been doing it for years and experiencing success, especially as we made the leap of faith for Jeremy to leave his corporate job last month to pursue his passion for coaching full-time.. We're trying harder and harder each day to look at other's examples as positive inspiration and not letting it discourage us.
We all can have/do what we desire.
There is no limit to talents, money, health, etc. Just because someone else is successful doesn't mean they've taken away your ability to be.
Some keys to my overall success as a 'positive comparer' include:
surrounding myself with positive influence- this is so important! Others who are trying their best to be their best are positive influencers. It doesn't mean disregarding the hard; it means not comparing your worst with someone's best and carrying a dark cloud everywhere you go.
including others in my influence- being the positivity that someone else needs in their life! I try to show up as my best for others. This doesn't mean I don't have needs, it means when I'm needed, then positivity is what I project.
adapting to change- seasons of change require different of me. Some seasons I am more needed for my family and friends, which means I might not get to put as much time in what I am pursuing. I must stay mindful and not discouraged if it's not the right season for.....
remaining true to my values- not allowing 'the world' to influence my way of doing things but relying on God to teach me the best way to be my best. This includes who should be in my circle of influence, how often I interact with others, how I show up, how I talk, dress and behave.
knowing/not forgetting who I am -I am a child of God and what I say and do matters. Reminding myself on a daily basis that there is only one me and I have been given talents and gifts that only I can give to others.
limiting negative comparison- this threatens my days when I stay in this mental state for too long. It happens and I hate it. The more it happens, the more committed I am to changing. It's okay to want for more, but without doing what it takes to reach more, it's just a 'must be nice' mentality and that's negative for me.
forgetting how far I've come- when I'm not getting where I want to be, I tend to forget how far I've come. This is where it's important to surround myself with positive influences to remind me and hold me accountable for getting back on track.
I enjoy a good challenge! Positive inspiration is definitely a challenge. It takes intentionality and purpose to realize why I'm feeling the need to compare to start with. If it's the help me grow, then I fully engage, learn, emulate, practice, etc to become what I know I can/desire to be. If it's going to hurt me, sometimes it takes me too long to realize how hurtful it is for me, I strive to rid it from my thoughts and actions and press forward.
"Anything good comes from God; anything not good, comes from Satan"
I believe that Satan himself would rather us spend our time in negative comparison, judgment, hatred for others successes, envy, jealousy, pride, etc to halt our progress.
God would rather us spend our time learning and growing to our full potential. This requires daily work for me. Remembering who I am and what I have to offer others helps me stay focused on the hard work along the way. Remaining myself that negatively comparing only halts my progress encourages me to banish it more frequently from my thoughts.
By choosing to become a better version of ourselves through positive inspiration and using others talents to help us grow, we show up better, stronger and more ready to serve others. One of the greatest lessons I've learned from the heartache of negative comparison is that others will long for what I have and I need to spend my time serving them to be their best instead of tearing myself down.
"when you are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."
Every thing, talent, money, gift, relationships, etc, belong to God himself. We have been entrusted to use them to lift and inspire others.
I feel grateful for those whose examples have allowed me to be a better version of myself through positive inspiration and slowly chip away my earlier tendencies to negatively compare.