Saturday, 16 February 2019

Comparison - The Thief Of Joy




What do the pictures of different fungus have to do with comparisons, or joy I ask?

Firstly, let me ask you this question, which of these fungi are doing the better job?  I’ll answer at the end of the post……..

Then, let me tell you my story……………..

I’m not sure when I first heard this saying, but it has become such a part of my headspace over the last few years that I wanted to share with you why it is so valuable to me.

As a society we are taught to compare from an early age.  For instance, do you remember being at school and told you must do better with your test results? That little Johnny or Suzie got better marks than you, they ran a faster race than you.  How did this make you feel? Did it make you strive harder, or shrink further away from trying any more? For me, it made me feel embarrassed, it made me wish I could disappear, that the floor would open up and swallow me up whole! I particularly remember one teacher who used to sit us in rows according to our test results.  If you were near the door, you were on the ‘way out’ and had the poorest results.

As an adult, I understand what he thought he was trying to do, as a teenager, it was just plain embarrassing, as if we didn’t have enough emotional junk to deal with at the time, he was making us feel less than we were in front of our school mates. Man, if he only knew what he was really doing!

How many times do you see advertising that shows impossibly slim models, female or male, or buffed bodies, magazines are plastered with the ‘beautiful’ stars. We are rammed every day with pictures of what is deemed to be ‘beautiful’ until we see that as a goal to strive for. The perfectly beautiful picture.  Social media seems to be making this worse too, the instagrammers who live through their following, the picture perfect poses that are posted, the perfect food, the perfect pout and it goes on.

I’m not sure about you, but I do feel that most of these are photo shopped, the makeup and preening takes hours to accomplish before the camera is turned on, and they are posed. They are not honest representations of the reality we all live in. Yet we still feel the need to draw comparisons to where we currently are, whether that is at the kitchen table in the morning, no makeup, head in hands, hair yet to be brushed, because we weren’t up at 4am getting ready to get ready to take the ‘instant perfect’ photo! STOP IT!

The truth is that comparison to others does more damage to your own self than it does to drive you further on to achieve greater and better outcomes than you are currently getting.

Comparing our body shapes, our height, our curves seems to be second nature.  For me, I often catch myself saying, ‘if only I was a few inches taller’, or ‘if only I could be as disciplined in my walking as……’  Do you find you are doing this too?

Now that you are feeling the pain of not appearing perfect to the external world, and because you’re comparing yourself to your social media friends, the ‘stars’ or your ‘got it together’ workmates, how can you change this?

Does it have to be this way? Can you change how you are feeling and seeing?

YES, absolutely you can. Be warned though, it takes some persistence, some consistency and some dedication on your behalf.

I know, because it’s what I have done for myself over the last few years. It’s still a work in progress, as society makes it very easy to slip back into old patterns. Recognising those patterns is one of the steps.

Step 1: Ask yourself where you want to be
This is a process of understanding where you actually want to be, not what society is dictating to you. I sat with this step for a while. I thought a lot about my body shape and size. What did I feel comfortable with, not what I looked like to others. Did it give me joy to have some curves? Did it give me joy to have the energy to do the exercise I wanted to do (for me that is going bush walking regularly). What style of clothes did I enjoy wearing? Do I feel good in those clothes?  What are all the positive things about where I want to be.

Write up a list of 25 things that make you feel happy and give you joy, about where you want to be. This is very important. This allows you to step into feeling your emotions when you are at your happiest. What is giving you joy at that time.

Step 2: Mirror work
I found this quite uncomfortable to do when I initially began this process. I can assure you, it is worth every moment of uncomfortableness when you are at a point where you see yourself quite differently than you do now.

Mirror work involves writing up a few sentences about what you love about your body.  For example, you may include a sentence on who you are, your values, such as “I am a loving and generous woman and my family and friends see it every day”. Or it may be something about your body that is beautiful to you, such as “I have gorgeous blue eyes and they are my shining feature”. The joy of this step, is that you get to choose what you love the most about you.  Remember to be impeccable with your word, to ensure you are only saying to yourself, what you would say to your best friend. Be positive, be joyful, be you.

Once you have your list of sentences that give you joy, look into a mirror at least twice a day, and look deeply into your own eyes, repeat the sentences.

Notice that when you first begin doing this, your eyes will shift, they will move up or down, rather than look directly back at you. This is your uncertainty, your insecurities at play. Persist, be consistent and in time, you will notice that you are smiling and looking straight back at yourself, while your inner feeling of love and joy expands. It’s a great experience!

Step 3: Triggers
Establishing something that will remind you on a daily basis of your inner mantras, of your beauty and joy, is a tool that I use every day on my life journey.

I use butterflies.  Why butterflies? It comes back to a book I read, Pam Grout’s E-squared. It’s a manifestation experiment, and I notice now, every day when I see a butterfly, it reminds me that I am unique, that I am manifesting everything that occurs in my day. Having a butterfly sticker on my mirror for my mirror work is my connection.

Finding a trigger is a great thing, as it takes you to the place of remembrance. Use this trigger when you are undertaking your mirror work, then, throughout your day, when you hear your inner voice begin to compare you to others, pull out your trigger, to take you to the place of no judgement.

Step 4: Always Doing Your Best
This is the best advice I ever received, always do your best.  If you believe that you are doing the best you can, given your circumstances, given what you set out to achieve in a day, then you are moving ahead in a positive manner. Only you can know if you are doing the best you can. You doing the best you can is not comparable to anyone else you know, or think you know. Only you can know this.  Only you can achieve your best.

We are all individuals, and as such, we achieve different things on different days and in different ways. No two people are the same, no two women have the same desirable weight, no two men wish to have the same physical goals, whatever it is that you are striving to achieve, it is your goal, and your goal alone. This is why you cannot compare your desired outcome to anyone else. Why your joy is your joy alone.

A good book that I used along the way on my journey to achieving my improved outlook on how I wish to be is The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the agreements is “Always Do Your Best”

Step 5: Be Gentle
Learning to not beat yourself up if you don’t achieve your outcomes on a particular day is an important part of doing your best. If you don’t have a great day, accept that it wasn’t the best day, and that tomorrow you will strive to improve on your performance. By creating a story around why you didn’t achieve an outcome, or what happened to stop your goals being completed, gives emotion to the poor outcome, it gives it life. 

Instead, simply state “I didn’t achieve……., tomorrow I will do my best to improve on that”. FULL STOP. Don’t add anything further to this sentence. That will give it life and you will continually use it to berate yourself and to pull yourself down.

FULL STOP.

Remember, only you can improve on what you have achieved, only your goals are important to you. The only comparison you can successfully do when you are on a life journey is to compare yourself to you, never to anyone else, they are not you.

Finally, the answer to the fungus question.
Neither fungus is better than the other. All are doing their unique role in the breakdown of the logs, in their own way, for themselves, providing the right nutrition that they need to grow, to live and to ultimately play a role in the relationship they have with the rainforest, the logs and the animals.  Both are the best they can be. You can be too.



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