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An invitation to compare

This week, we are going to visit the topic of comparisons. For those of you that receive my Sunday's Story with Sides twice-monthly email, I apologize for three things. 

1. I'm sorry this will repeat a bit of this past week's email. But hey, as adult learners, it never hurts to revisit topics, right?

2. I'm also sorry, as so gently pointed out by one of my grown daughters, my email did NOT, in fact, have a story. (Don't worry, tomorrow, you'll get your story in your inbox - it involves a laser pointer. 😬)

3. Most importantly, I apologize for butchering the spelling of the famed Dr. Seuss. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Moving on.

Do you find that you often compare yourself when you look around, scroll through social media, or attend a conference? Where does your automatic thinking go with those infernal Press-Gainey scores, "charts opened" lists or even the weekly shoutouts?

For so many, it's straight to comparison. Sizing those others up against ourselves.

First, I want you to know this is entirely normal - unless you're not human. 

Second, there is a reason that Teddy Roosevelt said (or whoever initially said it), "Comparison is the thief of joy."  Don't let those sneaky thoughts move around your brain unchecked. When I am proud of myself for working up to 12-pound dumbbells for my overhead shoulder press and feeling a bit proud, I can deflate myself pretty quickly by seeing how much others are lifting and even lose confidence. Call it out when you find yourself in "Compare and Despair" mode. "I see you there, inner critic. Not today. I've been working hard and am up from 8 lbs to 12 lbs. I'm celebrating! (Read more about confidence busters.)

Third, if you are going to compare, compare accurately. Too many of us compare apples to oranges. As a new attending on walking rounds, I remember having a couple of tidbits to teach. Then when our PD would visit for his weekly morning report, he'd throw out so many pearls it was unnerving. "I can't do that," "I don't know enough," "His memory is better than mine." Well, he also had been practicing for 17+ years longer than I had (8+ more in academics). Not an accurate comparison. Megan can shoulder press 35 pounds and just started strength training too. "She's just better than I am." Well, her body type is very different than mine. She naturally has a more athletic muscular build. Not an accurate comparison. My colleague has it all together and is so balanced. It could be that they are demonstrating a façade. It could be that they have been working hard on boundaries and priorities. It could be that boundaries and priorities are just part of things they naturally do, but there are other areas they struggle in which you excel. Very likely, not an accurate comparison. This brings me to the fourth point. I love the saying I heard once, "We compare others' highlight reels to our blooper reels." Unfair. 

Fourth, we all grow in different domains at different rates and have different strengths. Please don't make yourself feel bad that your strengths are different than theirs. 

Fifth, use others' successes and abilities for inspiration. When someone you admire is doing well in an area you'd like to grow in - let them be the example of what's possible and drive your motivation. 

Sixth, celebrate them - genuinely and fully. Uncouple your view of yourself from their actions, abilities, or accomplishments. Their wins are not a condemnation of yours. 

Seventh, remind yourself of your values, strengths, and priorities. Celebrate your own wins. Give equal brain airtime to your positive qualities. 

Finally, when you compare - is there a positive shift you want to make for yourself tapping into your own defined purpose and goals and not from a sense of you "should" be doing something else? Great. What's the next step you want to take to pivot? If not, let the comparison pass. Remind yourself that you have made the decisions that put you on your path for good reasons. And remember to like your reasons!

Okay, that is all for this week. Stay tuned for something new next week. Until then,

Have a joy-filled week! Tonya

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