You Are Not Falling Behind and Here’s Why
Feeling that you are “falling behind” others is a common experience. Perhaps you are figuring out what you want to do for a living? Or you have friends who are entering serious relationships and you have not yet met your person. It is part of our nature to compare and evaluate how we stack up to others. Our society celebrates milestones and praises achievements above all else. This sets the stage for feelings of “I’m not doing enough” or “I need to catch up quickly.” Add social media to the mix and comparison takes on a whole new level.
While we cannot control that we default to comparison, we can control how we respond to it. We each progress at our own pace. There is no one right way to live life, nor is there one speed nor one path to success – however we define it. What may be the right pace for one person may not be right for another. Consider the cake analogy: One person’s idea of a perfect dessert may be a dense chocolate fudge cake while another’s perfect dessert may be a lemon meringue pie. We can agree that neither one is the right dessert.
You are not limited to or defined by your achievements and milestones. This would be like looking through a straw and seeing a tiny part of your whole, unique, complex experience. Your uniqueness and individuality add so much beauty to the world and to your relationships.
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
It can be painful when others have what we want to have. First, validate that painful feeling for yourself. Second, remember that this feeling is a messenger. It is an invitation to meet your needs and move toward what you want. You can focus on doing everything in your power to move in the direction of your goal.
This idea of “falling behind” can be connected to a difficult and universal emotion: shame. We may feel shame when we don’t match others’ expectations. The fear of shame can explain why we don’t always move confidently and courageously in the direction of our own unique paths. It can explain why we may not trust the timing of our own lives. Perhaps you want to feel a sense of belonging. Maybe you are afraid of disappointing someone. In an effort to avoid feeling shame, we often strive to prove our worth.
“You stop believing in your worthiness and start hustling for it.”
– Brene Brown
You are already enough as you are. I recommend exploring your own relationship with shame because this can block you from wholeheartedly accepting who you are and where you are in life. When we accept and embrace who we are, as Brene Brown says, “we can discover the infinite power of our light.”
Feeling behind is a construct. Remember, feelings are not facts. Here are some prompts to guide you if you are feeling behind:
What may be possible if you release yourself from a specific timeline?
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – what might you miss out on if you are only focused on someone else’s timeline?
What would it be like to practice courage by letting go of what people think and moving forward in a way that works for you?
What makes you feel competent and confident? What are you working towards?
As you move toward your goals, what would it be like to show yourself compassion – to allow yourself to relax as you gently step forward?
What would it be like to believe in your worthiness now rather than hustle for it?
When was the last time you praised a friend for something other than a milestone or achievement?
Are you holding yourself to an ideal that is actually interesting to you, or just an ideal that is favored by society, peers, and media?
When has trusting the timing of your life worked out well for you?
Would you want to trade your life with someone else’s? Why not?
The speed at which someone hits milestones does not determine happiness or worth. If you are focused on somebody else’s accomplishments, you are missing out on beauty and opportunity in your own life. Remember that social media is a curated version of someone’s life. It is a highlight reel. Stay mindful of moments you are falling into comparison and please, take social media breaks if needed.
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