What I hear from a lot of clients, no matter the age, is how often they are comparing themselves to their family, friends and peers. We often do this in order to determine how we are doing in life.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and it can be tough to break the habit of comparing ourselves to others. The idea of comparison is flawed, however, as we fail to take into consideration that everyone's circumstances are different. Comparison typically ends up motivating self-loathing or depression.
Comparing and Doubting Questions
We have all been there. We are scrolling through our Facebook feed and we see a post from someone we know, and they look like they have it all together. They are always traveling, they always have a great smile on their face, and their life seems to be perfect. We can't help but to compare ourselves to them, and we start to feel down about our own lives.
Am I up to par with my relatives? Am I further along in the "stages of life" as my friends are? Am I as cool as my peers? These are just a few examples of thoughts one might have as they are comparing themselves to others. If you've noticed any of these thoughts or one's similar, keep reading, you need a little forgiveness and self-compassion in your life.
The urge to compare ourselves is usually unconscious and driven by insecurity and self-doubt. It can be difficult to stop, however, improving awareness can lead to steps towards change.
The Road Map from Comparison to Self-Compassion and Forgiveness
Slow Down, You're moving too fast!
One thing to try is simply slowing down and notice how you're speaking to or about yourself. How are you comparing yourself to others? With self-awareness, we can focus on exactly what we are telling ourselves. Sometimes we aren't as nice as we can be: "I always make mistakes", "I'm so stupid", "Everyone is better than me", "They have more than I do", "They are happy and I'll never have that" are a few examples that we want to catch in our thinking, process and shift.
Self-compassion is a way to combat that comparison habit. Self-compassion involves being kind and understanding towards yourself, even when you make mistakes. This can help reduce the amount of judgment and criticism you direct at yourself. Being gentle and allowing room for mistakes will ease the pressure you might be putting on yourself to be perfect. We're human - we all make mistakes! And they are just learning opportunities! This helps us to move on from our past mistakes more quickly and without as much self-judgement.
Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, care and understanding you would offer to a good friend. It comprises three main elements:
Self-kindness -being gentle and supportive towards yourself
Common humanity - recognising that everyone makes mistakes and that you are not alone in your struggles
Mindfulness -being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgement
Self-compassion isn’t self-pity, nor is it all about you; rather, it's about having an understanding and kind heart towards yourself. It helps us to accept ourselves as we are instead of being preoccupied with our own deficiencies.
Additionally, self-compassion can help us to connect with others more easily because we're not so focused on ourselves and our own problems; instead, we're able to be present and be compassionate with others who are going through their own struggles.
True self-acceptance involves embracing all the less desirable, the negative, and the ugly parts of yourself. Accepting yourself unconditionally for who you are doesn't mean that you can't continue to improve yourself, however, accepting ourselves will also lead to loving ourselves. As we all should! When we have these intentions towards ourselves happiness and self-acceptance will come together and we can make peace with who we are. And this can only be done by learning to love ourselves first and foremost- even during our toughest times.
Practicing self forgiveness for your perceived shortcomings can be difficult but an inspiring turning point! Forgiveness involves being honest with yourself about your mistakes before accepting them, rather than punishing yourself for the mistakes you make or pretending they didn't happen. It also requires self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-reflection and self awareness.
When you have self forgiveness, you can also be more compassionate towards others. Self forgiveness helps us let go of the things that hold us back from being our best selves, and it allows us to live more fully in the present. Self forgiveness is an important part of self healing, and most importantly, self love.
The Benefits of Self-Compassion and Self Forgiveness
There are a host of benefits we can look at when practicing self-compassion and self forgiveness:
Decreased anxiety, depression, and stress levels.
Can improve relationships with others by increasing empathy and reducing anger.
Lessens feelings of guilt and shame
Promotes happiness and more fulfilling lives
Start your journey of self-compassion and self-forgiveness just where you are- slow and steady.
Don't try to do it all at once. It takes time, patience and self-love but it's worth it!
Remember self-compassion is kindness towards yourself as a human being who deserves love and respect- Just like everyone else in the world!
If you or someone you know is struggling with insecurity, self-doubt, regret and anger - please reach out. Everyone deserves help, YOU are worthy.
Stephanie Polizzi is a licensed psychotherapist (LMHC) and specializes in