by Robyn Batts
Jealousy and discontent are universal. Surprise! If you haven't dealt with them I'd like to shake your hand and then sit in on your TED Talk. (Seriously, help!) For the rest of us, here are some practical tips to kick comparison to the curb and embrace the life you've been given.
1. Talk to a trusted friend.
Jealousy and comparison can sometimes feel embarrassing. But one of the hardest characterstics of these feelings is that they start small and then, left undiscussed, grow and grow till they are ugly and green and Hulk-sized. You likely have a friend (or a few) who cares about you, can relate to you, and would love to talk through difficult feelings with you. Be careful not to use this as an excuse to gossip, but talk truthfully about where your feelings are coming from, and listen to any advice they might offer. It's so comforting in those moments to know you are not alone, and you have people you can count on to encourage you.
2. Practice replacing negative thoughts instead of trying to turn them off.
How many times have you told yourself to just stop thinking about something?And how many times have you beat yourself up because those same thoughts of comparison and jealousy kept popping back into your head? For me, it's too many to count. We can rarely combat thoughts by telling ourselves to just get over them. Instead, try having a verse or positive thought ready to replace those negative ones. When that icky feeling creeps in, bust out your go-to line of encouragement and make the swap. One thought at a time, you'll be able to retrain your brain to be your faithful companion instead of your nemesis.
3. Take a break from social media.
Wait, what? That sounds crazy. It can't be that big of a deal, right? It might not be for you, but I've also recently experienced the benefits of a social media break for myself, and guys-it feels pretty amazing. We are living in a generation that has the freedom to share some of the most creative, inspiring, and beautiful photos and content with the world. It is really cool and can be so motivating. But what about those days when you aren't feeling that creative, inspiring, or beautiful yourself? If you don't reach 100 likes, do you feel subpar? Taking a break and remembering to live life without trying to match up to all those other snapshots out there can be such a relief. There are no requirements. Just focus on yourself and give it a try. There will always be some notification to check, so I guarantee it'll be right there when you get back.
4. Go from A-B instead of A-Z.
Ever have a thought and then moments later snap out of it, only to realize you've gone from A-Z faster than Rachel went from "Ross and my sister went on a date" to "I can't believe Ross is marrying my little sister!"? Me too...all the time. Sometimes our brains can fabricate the craziest of stories to bring us down. Try to take control of that first thought, and focus on the present. Don't let your mind take you so far away that you can't see what's right in front of you.
5. Practice gratitude.
When's the last time you took a little inventory of the blessings in your life? When we are constantly looking at the good that seems to be happening for other people, we're bound to see our own lives in a dimmer light. Instead, when we regularly take note of the things we are most thankful for, we stop setting our lives up to disappoint us. Give yourself reasons to smile when you think about what you have going on. Chances are, you have a lot more to be thankful for than you even realize.
6. Focus on your own talents.
What's that thing that makes you come alive? Writing? Playing music? Putting together 1000-piece puzzles? (There's no wrong answer here.) Whatever it is, make time for it! Recognize what you are amazing at and spend your time doing it. There will always be someone better or faster or more experienced, but you were uniquely wired for certain things. And when you compare your talents against others', you cheat yourself (and the world) out of what you have to offer.
7. Remember your feelings are not your reality.
It's pretty common to hear the phrase "follow your heart". But has your heart ever said, "You're not quite good enough" or "Try to be more like they are"? Yeah, I don't always trust that guy, and I'm not sure I want to follow him wherever he's headed with those kinds of feelings. I sometimes think he doesn't know what's real, so I have to have my brain remind him what is. When I'm overwhelmed with anxiety and beat down with jealousy, I like to make a little chart. On the left side is a column for "What I'm Feeling" and on the right side, one for "What is True". Suddenly, "I don't matter" becomes "I have wonderful friends who care about me". "She's better at her job than I am" becomes "I nailed that presentation last week". Taking a step back from your emotions and a step toward reality helps put everything in perspective, and gives you the ability to live more fully.