To compare is so easy to do, yet it’s extremely damaging and paralyzing. How do we break free? I have 3 tips to help us reward contrast and to not compare. This is just a note from me to you, I thought you might like to hear it.
Lately, I have been reviewing my life and asking myself if I’m happy with how I’ve been living. In most areas of my life I can confidently say Yes, I love it. But in others, I can’t say yes. And when I can’t say yes, I start comparing myself to others in that particular area. Oh how I hate the act to compare, so I’ve had to train myself to admire the contrasts and find my own.
A good verse to memorize
I came across a Bible verse that really struck me, so I memorized it. The number of times this verse has helped me snap back in life has exceeded the number of digits on my hands and feet.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
This verse jumped out at me because I was finding myself comparing my pattern of life to others’ patterns of life. Not good. The reason I started to even do that was because there was one area in my life I wasn’t satisfied with, my career. It was nonexistent.
The career compare game
Seeing other people climb the corporate ladder, own a thriving small business, and stay in the job for years on end, made me feel that I had missed what God’s will was for my life. It’s funny that I have a tendency to base God’s will on a career even though I know it’s not that. I’m obviously still conforming to the pattern of this world in believing so.
3 Tips to help stop comparing:
I prayed for my gifts to be revealed and for my mind to be renewed.
I reminded myself that everyone is different. To stop comparing because it’s not helpful at all! And to work harder at digging deeper into my own identity and gifts. One way I did this was to read affirmations daily. There is a list of my favorites in Freebies.
If I want something to happen, I need to make it happen. I can dream all day, but executing those dreams are scary. But if I want it bad enough, I need to pull my big girl pants up and go get it.
About a few weeks later I felt my creativity come back, I felt my imagination flourish like a child’s, and I took the first step in making my dreams happen, I wrote them down and saw them on paper.
All in all
Even though I don’t have a career like everyone else, I am learning how to embrace the season I’m in right now…being a mom, managing home and health, writing, and creating. God is with us every step of the way, He wants us to enjoy life and flourish, but he doesn’t want us to compare.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, instead help the world come alive by being YOU.
A smile says a lot, even from our dogs. Not too long ago I visited my ala mater and was shocked at what I saw on faces. As I drove up 7th street to go to the Student Union all I saw were frowns. Seriously, not a single smile. The funny thing was is that all the girls were wearing the same kind of outfit. That made me smile!
In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book every young twenty-something should read, Dale says “The expression on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.”
Not only that but Dale also mentions what Professor James V McConnell, a psychologist at the University of Michigan says about smiling, “People who smile tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children.”
What’s up at college campuses?
When I got home from my campus visit, I told my recruiter friend who visits many college campuses what I experienced and how sad I was about the emotionless students. She told me that it isn’t just happening there, the ‘no smiling’ thing is happening on other campuses too.
I told her that I even did a smile test in the women’s restroom, you know what I’m talking about….you smile at someone and they smile back? Well, that’s what is suppose to happen, but it didn’t work. I felt invisible. And shocked for that matter. So I tried again in the hallway. Still nothing! When I went outside, I tried again. Not even a look in the eyes! This was getting quite comical. I must have looked silly smiling at people, but not getting a single smile back.
What could be the cause?
When I saw all these students looking like drones, they had no emotion just blank stares as if they were all suffering from vitamin D deficiency. At first, I thought they were all depressed or stressed. Maybe they failed an exam or they stayed at the bar too late the night before. But all of them? What gives?
Then I thought of a more educational reason, I blamed the frowns on two things. Social networking and their incompetence to know how to interact with people face to face. It was like they were afraid to smile or they didn’t know-how. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but with social media and social distancing going on people may very well be afraid to show their real self out in the world.
What’s the big deal about a smile?
Smiling is a natural, automatic expression we reveal when we are happy or when we feel good. Psychology Today says that smiling releases endorphins, hormones that make us feel good. We need to smile to stay sane!
When I was in college I remember a time when I was walking through the Arboretum to get to class and a stranger smiled at me. As a natural response, I immediately smiled back. In fact, I remember my smile was over-exaggerated because I was so shocked he smiled! Ha ha ha!
The effects of a stranger giving YOU a smile is loving. I even remember telling my roommates that some random guy smiled at me, not like a slimy-lets-go-on-a-date look, but a ‘hey, hope you’re having a nice day’ kind of smile. Smiling makes us feel good and it boosts our confidence.
I didn’t know how to smile!
In Kindergarten I didn’t know how to smile. Yep. I had no idea. My sisters tried to teach me but I just couldn’t get the corners of my mouth to go up on cue. School picture day was coming up and I so desperately wanted to smile, but every time I tried my lips clamped shut and the corners of my mouth turned down. I tried so hard!
With lots of tickling by my sisters in front of the mirror, I finally understood the smile. By 3rd grade, I was smiling on demand. Yes, it apparently took me that long to get it down. Who would have known in my Senior year in high school I got voted ‘best smile’. 🙂
Make a difference and watch what happens!
Brighten someone’s day, smile at them. Smile at your kids. Your children need to see that you are happy. Even if you’re not having a good day, still show them you can smile. You deserve to feel good and they deserve it too. Smiling says many things beyond what words, e-mails, tweets, texts, or instant messaging could say.
When you smile, people will be curious about who you are because you look happy. People seek happiness and they want whatever is making you show your teeth. Let’s put our phones down, take our earbuds out, and pay attention to people walking to class or in the grocery store, heck even in the car next to you. Smile and see what they do in return.
Last but not least, keep on smiling before you forget how to do it, it really does make life a lot more rewarding. Don’t forget to check out Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People!
What saddens my heart is seeing people, especially children being stuck in a mold. Not actual mold, that’s gross. I’m talking about being molded into someone they’re not. Taking the shape of others is easy. We’re easily accepted. But are we being true to ourselves? Are you in a mold? Are you ‘molding’ someone else right now? Learn how to break away from all that and how to teach your children to be free.
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes because it encourages us to be unique individuals.
A few years ago I was given a winter squash mold. These molds are used to shape a squash while they grow. The mold is a clear plastic shape, kind of like a mask. When the squash is young, the mold goes over the top of it. When the squash grows it will shape itself to the mold. Interesting, eh? After the mold is filled the squash is taken out of the mold and put on display. The squash mold gift I received was in the shape of a scary face. Gosh, I’d be scared too if that mold was to shape every squash in my garden.
When I thought about this mold, I really didn’t like the idea of it because the mold wouldn’t allow the squash to have any unique character, or for that matter look like a squash. I enjoy seeing God’s creation take on the shape and color of what God intended his creation to be.
Our own identity
Finding my own identity being the baby of five children was really difficult. I have three older sisters and an older brother. I really enjoyed my childhood with all my siblings. But as I got older I noticed something I was doing and I didn’t like it. I was getting scared.
Being the last of the litter has some advantages and some disadvantages. One advantage is learning the lessons your siblings learned and not getting in trouble as they did. One disadvantage is copying your siblings. I watched all my older siblings go through life before I got there. And because I knew no different, I copied their identity. It was like I was at a store, I took a little identity from one sibling and took a little more from the others.
Copying was easy to do, but by the time I was a senior in high school I didn’t like myself because I wasn’t myself. I was trying to be like my older siblings and my friends. I was stuck in a mold or as Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, I was on their path and not my own.
How am I going to fix this?
Don’t get me wrong, my family taught me good morals, responsibility, and about Jesus; but I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to become. This was my fault. I did this, not my siblings, nor my parents. It was me. How am I going to fix this?
As a kid, I would play by myself when I got the chance. I looked so forward to that time because I could play how I wanted to play! As a teenager it was tough. Our bodies go through so many changes and we get so worried if we’ll be accepted or not. The teenage years can be a real struggle for identity seekers, hence the copying I did. The problem with me is that I couldn’t get away from influencers. I still tried to spend some time alone, particularly on a run or walk through the woods with my cat, but it wasn’t enough.
After graduating high school I knew I had to change. I had to find ME! One thing I did was go on a ‘solo adventure’ from time to time. This is essentially “me time”. It’s a time where I spend time alone without any influences from people I know. It sounds weird, but it’s super healthy and critical in checking-in with yourself about who you are. Even as a parent. “Me time” gives me sanity and refreshes my spirit so I can be a great mom.
Be aware of molds
There are a lot of molds out there. Molds from friends and siblings to name a few. When you have developed a habit of scheduling a regular “me time”, you become more aware of your identity and the influences around you. It becomes easier to be yourself around others because you have more confidence in being who you are.
When you know yourself, you’ll recognize instances where people try to mold you and you can put a stop to it right away. I’m not talking about being rude and yelling “Heck no!” Unless you say it in a funny way. I’m talking about recognizing when people are wanting you to do something you don’t want to do. If you can at least see that that is happening, then you have won. It’s then your decision to decide whether you want to engage or not. Just know who you are. Don’t let someone mold you into someone you’re not. You’re a strong person who has confidence in herself!
That’s the other thing about ‘solo time’. It creates confidence in ourselves. When I intentionally go on a ‘solo’ trip its for me to spend time with me. To learn more about my own opinions, passions, and desires. As much as I love my family and friends, it’s important to take myself on a date so-to-speak every once in a while and check-in with myself. When we know more about ourselves we naturally gain more confidence in who we are.
For us parents, it’s easy to put our child into a mold. Yes, it’s our responsibility to teach them right from wrong. We are to help them learn how to live an independent life and contribute to society. Parents teach us about how to eat and take care of ourselves. We are the biggest influence on our kids, but we must let our children do what they love. If they are interested in dance, let them dance. Please don’t tell them they can’t dance because ‘we’re not dancers’. Let them explore different things so they can learn about who they are, what they like, and what they don’t have any interest in doing. If you want a happy kid, let them learn about themselves.
3 ideas to encourage your kids to be themselves
Make them play by themselves. Separate the siblings and give each kid their own ‘solo time’. Whether you send them to their room or outside. Give them some space to do their own thing in their own way.
Siblings have a way of comparing and competing. I suggest taking a walk and having a 1:1 conversation with each kid. It’s like a mini-date with mom or dad. Talk with them about how unique and different they are, how it’s important to be true to yourself and to be your own person. Tell them a story about you and your identity journey. Please do this with each child at separate times, not with all the kids together.
One of the things I love about ‘solo time’ is that it’s a time where I can wear my ‘relaxed face’ and not have people ask me if I’m okay because I look mad. Ha ha ha! You know what I’m talking about don’t you?
‘Solo’ time gives me the freedom to relax and uncover more discoveries about myself that would have otherwise be drowned out by noise. Know what I mean? I’m not saying to become an introvert, not at all! Just remember to carve out some time for you to not have to react to others. Time to only think about yourself and for you to love-on yourself the way you like to. This is especially important for parents and spouses.
Learn more about yourself so you can live a happier life. When we were born, we were born with an identity. One of the problems I see in unhappy people is that they don’t know who they are as an individual. I’ve been there in many seasons in life. Our job is to learn who God created us to be, to not only be happier but to fulfill our deepest need: purpose.
There are times in life when we don’t feel like we’re doing anything; we’re just going through the motions to get through the day. The tug-a-war happens when we want more out of life, we want to make a difference in society, we want a fulfilling life, but don’t know how to go about that because we’re stuck in a cycle of worldly pressures. How can we break away? We do that by understanding who we are.
Do More Than Exist
Do more than exist (DMTE) used to be the name of this blog. Those four words are pretty powerful and say a lot! Do more than exist can mean a variety of things. It can be about getting off the couch, starting a business, getting healthy, raising a family, volunteering, running a marathon, going on a mission trip, contributing to a global cause, or expressing your artistic ability. We all have our own unique meaning behind those four simple words. And we all have a fingerprint that is critical to our success. To do more than exist is to learn more about yourself.
Discovering Who We Are
Discovering oneself is quite a journey. We may go down many paths to look for opportunities, to look for clues of who we are, yet find nothing. I remember way too many rabbit trails I followed, only to find disappointment. “WHO AM I, GOD?” I would yell in my mind. Tears streamed down my face out of frustration. I so badly wanted to know what God made me to do on this planet.
In my worry, I missed something very valuable. I was so focused on a map that I forgot to look between the paths. Following or trying to follow everyone else made me feel like a failure. I didn’t fit and thought something was wrong with me! It took me a long while to learn that what worked for someone, didn’t work for my individuality. Let me save you some tissue, the trap of comparison will throw your compass off and you’ll just keep going around in circles if you don’t do something about it.
With that said, let me tell you that your path in life isn’t going to be one path. Rarely does that happen. If we want a fulfilled life we’re going to have to adapt to the seasons we’re given in life. When we have children, be a mom. When we have to bring the bacon home, bring the bacon home. It’s okay if we don’t feel purposeful at the moment. But I do ask you of this: always learn who you are in the role you play, you will then have a clearer picture of the path you want to take.
9 Easy Ways to Live Beyond our Existence
Taking the time to explore our hearts to understand what we like and dislike is extremely important for our overall happiness. Our hearts shape our lives and our values affect our choices. When our values align with our decisions, something magical happens…a smile on our face. If you want to learn more about personal values, you can check out my freebie here.
Learn more about yourself
1) Help others. If you see someone in need, help them! Hold the door, pick up something they dropped, simply do what unto others as you would do unto you.
2) Spend some time alone. I like to go for walks outdoors on a trail in a park. Spending time alone at home with a fun project or your hobby is also a great way to have fun with yourself. I have even gone to the movies solo. There is something about taking a time-out for yourself without having to worry about a kid or dog, or spouse for that matter. It’s just you.
3) Journal. Writing down your thoughts, prayers, and frustrations helps you understand what’s going on in your heart. Over the years I found the tone in my journaling started out pretty rough. I was swearing, mad, and confused about what was going on in my life and relationships. Rarely did I find a positive entry. But that is what journaling is for, an outlet, a venting passage. It’s to give our thoughts permission to leave our minds so we don’t have to think about it anymore...it’s documented on paper so I can now let it go.
On the flipside, journaling is also there to be creative, to document life, and to tell yourself good things. As I grew older I found my journal entries to be much more positive and creative. My journal entries turned into prayers and things I learned on my daily devotional podcast. As I flip through the pages it’s gratifying to see how far you’ve come. And to see what seemed like a big deal then is not so now.
4) Engage in an activity you normally wouldn’t do. Push your introvert-ness aside and step out of your comfort zone for just a little bit. Challenge your limits, physically and mentally. This may sound silly but I recently went to an estate sale. You have ever been to one of those? I had not, a bit nervous my stomach was. Not only was the sale out in the middle of nowhere, but it was also a challenge to get there. I’m talking dirt road with no shoulder to park. Cars were getting stuck everywhere! At the auction, I bid on one thing raising my little card. Gosh, I was scared, but I did! Going to an estate sale might not sound like a big deal to you, but it was something completely out of my normal routine. This is a very small idea of what you can do.
5) Clean out your stuff. Clutter is toxic. Sifting through your stuff and giving it a good organization will do your mind good. You’ll learn all about yourself and what stuff you like to keep. Maybe you’ll even understand why you want to keep it or give it to someone else. Take a look at your stuff and ask yourself, what does that say about you? At the auction I went to, I learned A LOT about the people who were selling it.
6) Write down what you want to leave behind. I’m not talking about stuff. What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What do you want to be remembered for? And how can you start doing that today?
Lastly, get busy
7) Volunteer. Choose an activity at your church or community center and volunteer to help out. This too can be scary. We don’t have much time, especially we have little ones, so bring them along. It not only helps you feel good about yourself contributing to society, but it shows your kids how to do it. Again you’ll learn about your attitude and capabilities simply by lending a hand.
8) Get your body in check. I could go on and on about this one. In fact, visit my store for a course on how to take better care of our precious bodies. The way you feel affects your decisions. And your decisions affect your path.
9) Do something creative. Draw, doddle, sew, design your own landscaping or garden, make your own cookie recipe or stir-fry dish, arrange flowers, move your furniture around, or mow your lawn in a different pattern. Get those juices flowing and see what you create!
By engaging in these activities you will have a better idea of who you are and who you want to become. I suggest starting small. Maybe try one of the nine exploring ways every few days or on the weekends….except for the body one, that should be done every day (wink). When we get to know ourselves better, our path in life becomes clearer and more fulfilling. It’s funny how this simple exercise can give you a wealthier life.