Misery buster: Stop comparing your life to others

Misery buster: Stop comparing your life to others

Self Esteem Success

Comparison is the thief of joy – Teddy Roosevelt

Because I believe in “doing well” in my life and in my career, I recently joined a prosperity mindset group, thinking that I could use some support as I incline my mind toward abundance. Every day I read about other people’s positive evidences, the tangible proof as the group members begin to grow and expand and manifest.

Some of these positive evidences have been mind-boggling big, such as one woman’s attendance at a networking event and walking away with three new clients. I mean, WOW.

Comparison Envy

Her plant is bigger than my plant. What the heck?

Yet I’ve been noticing something that’s been happening frequently these days. Every time I read other people’s positive evidence, I began to fall into an age-old trap –The Comparison Trap. Every time I read their statements, I started to think:  What’s wrong with me? How is it that they are experiencing such rapid manifestation? … and I then would sink into dismay.

We ALL fall into this trap – I often hear this from many of my clients as well as friends and peers. For instance, a friend of mine was recounting the time when he was invited to a party at a big warehouse in Brooklyn, along the waterfront in Williamsburg. He was having a great time enjoying the smooth jazz, box wine and delicious hors d’oeuvres, all while talking with people who were dynamic and intelligent and worldly – just the kind of people he loves talking with. Later in the evening he noticed a steady parade of well-heeled people slide past and disappear into another room. He peeked and saw a large party with beautiful revelers dancing and carrying on like Bacchus. Suddenly he was seized by despair, thinking that his gig wasn’t as fun as it had been all because it didn’t appear to measure up to the party next door- a party he didn’t even know existed until just moments before.

I think single people are more prone to this trap because we have the added pressure of thinking that there’s something wrong with us that we’re not in a relationship. We’re already dealing with feelings of “less-than”.

jealous-friend

Green-eyed monster will eat your brains.

And our consumer culture is built on this comparison trap and our feelings of dismay and envy. It’s like a cultural institution because that is the prime motivation for selling lots and lots of “stuff”.

The thing is, comparing ourselves to others in anything, whether spiritual growth, business, weight, finances, relationships, appearance, and bling, isn’t useful.  Every time you look at something and feel less than, your energy becomes lower and you cut off your ability to attract the very thing you want to achieve. Comparison doesn’t do anything of value. So therefore, the most transformational changes that we hope to make really HAVE to start on the inner level, working with our subconscious limiting beliefs and inner critic, learning to trust ourselves and feel good about our lives.

Also, remember to not always believe what you see. In the cases where people are talking about the great things that are happening in their lives, we need to recognize that people aren’t often open to sharing their challenges. You only know what people present as a persona. I always explain to people when they are comparing themselves to others, that you don’t really know what’s going on for them.

SO the next time you find yourself saying things like “Mary has a bigger car,” or “Sarah gets all the lucky breaks”, or “Tom has more money,” or “Jeff is better looking”… just remember to Snap Out of It! Focus on the things that are going well in your life and if you want MORE, allow yourself to do the necessary work to achieve it.

A recipe for loneliness

A recipe for loneliness

Community

As someone who has been single for a long time and as a life coach who supports single professionals, I am particularly conscious of all maladies that could impact singles, most of which is social isolation, loneliness and its byproduct, depression.

I know that the best cure for loneliness is to interact frequently with people (and even a group of people) who share values, beliefs and goals in ways that encourage trust. (Loneliness is actually the want of emotional intimacy so it’s pretty clear that interacting with people on a deeper level can prevent loneliness.) This is the reason why I launched the Empowered Singles Support Circles.

I was talking with a woman the other day about the monthly gatherings and she said some things that made me curious. So I wonder if what she said is true for all of you.

Are you too exhausted to invest in your social network?

She said that singles are too exhausted and busy to attend face to face events; they like being in groups as they maintain the illusion that they are actually attending something but they don’t want to invest time and money unless there’s a high chance of a good payout of meeting a potential partner.

For me, I have never approached socializing with a payout in mind. I’ve only ever wanted to meet people of like minds, to form mutually beneficial relationships that could lead to business relationships, friendships and so on. And in fact, my experiences personally and professionally have demonstrated that when we become attached to outcomes (the payout), we set ourselves up for a lot of frustration and despair and we prevent ourselves from forming relationships that have the potential to benefit us in other ways.

Chat rooms the wave of the future?

How can you know who you're chatting with?

How can you know who you’re chatting with?

She then said that at mix and mingle events, most singles stand around waiting for someone else to make the move because they don’t want to be vulnerable and possibly be rejected but that they LOVE singles chat rooms because they mix and mingle online at home and get to know someone before investing in a public appearance (clothes, make up, drive time, cost of food/drink).

Since I’m somewhat of a social scientist, I started to research how valid this chat room argument is. While it may be true that singles LOVE chat rooms, I haven’t found any proof that chat rooms can actually satisfy our need for social interaction or lead to healthier real-time relationships – but I did find lots of evidence that chat rooms offer the same liabilities as online dating sites.

First, when communicating with people face-to-face, we perceive subtle things about them, so we can decide whether we should respond to them, trust them, or even befriend them. We rely on cues that can only be obtained through body language, tone of voice and so on. Chat rooms deny us that opportunity since we are primarily looking at words on a screen.

Chat rooms, like online dating, encourage us to fall into a common trap that is known in social psychology as perceptual accentuation. Perceptual accentuation is actually an erroneous way of thinking that encourages inaccurate perceptions based on our own desires rather than on reality. In other words, we project on our chat room buddy traits and behaviors that we wish to experience in another person.

Because of the anonymity in a chat room environment, people communicating via chat rooms may put forth less effort to control what they say and may also encourage people to behave counter to the way they typically act. A shy person may behave in a more outgoing manner in a chat room than in a face-to- face interaction. Therefore, people who see themselves as introverted may appear extroverted to others in a chat room.

Either way, chat rooms obscure our ability to make accurate assessments about the person we’re communicating with and I cannot possibly see how this tool can adequately fulfill our primitive need to be eyeball to eyeball with real human beings.

What about you? What are your thoughts and inclinations toward attending live events? What gets in your way? Are you too exhausted to focus on the building blocks of a great life, such as a robust support community?

What’s behind marriage rates declining?

What’s behind marriage rates declining?

Divorce Relationships

Most people think that “marriage” is the promised land of sorts, where every day is filled with rainbows and butterflies simply because they’re in committed relationship. I know this romantic fairy tale is fed to us routinely as we grow up. But I found some stats via a Scientific American podcast and on the Gallup Poll web site  that belie those dreamy notions.

bride and groom splitAccording to the Gallup site, the Census Bureau reports that marriage rates are declining rapidly, from 9.9 marriages per 1,000 Americans in 1987 to 6.8 in 2011. In addition, researchers at the University of Maryland found that the marriage rate per 1,000 unmarried women fell from 90 in 1950, at the height of the baby boom, to just 31 in 2011.

I thought it was interesting because until recently, the news on everyone’s lips was how the divorce rate was skyrocketing – 1 in every 2 marriages end in divorce. But now the divorce rate is declining – and no wonder.

I was talking with a handful of women about these statistics and most of them believed that the reason behind the decline is a growing fear of commitment or a fear of intimacy. “Men are afraid to commit or be vulnerable” — I hear that one a lot.

To some extent there may be a kernel of truth behind that… maybe people are not getting married out of fear of getting divorced. Yet I’d like to think that maybe what’s catching on is the idea that being single is an opportunity to create a life you love first so then people can attract the partner that is right for them – a partnership that has successful odds — if that is something they want to experience. This is certainly the way that I regard being single – as an opportunity – and as result, people are delaying getting married.

So what do you think?