The joy thief and how to stop it running off with your valuables
Lately, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that everyone is doing better than me – personally, professionally, and emotionally. This isn’t like me: I have spent a lot of time building my inner resilience against this and I don’t enjoy feeling so vulnerable.
Anxiety plays a big part of this, and knowing that helps, but what to do when you can’t shake the feeling despite knowing that it’s unhelpful?
I’ll tell you what helps me…
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’, Theodore Roosevelt once said. This quote has helped snap my mind back into an uplifted place, as what is the use in feeling sad about something someone else has? Something that is very much outside of my control? Obviously, we can’t choose what we feel, but we can find strength in how we approach it.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy, stealing sleep, motivation, and ultimately stopping you from being kind to yourself; I believe ‘kicking yourself when you’re down’ is the appropriate phrase here.
Here is the honest truth: how you feel about what someone else doesn’t change what they have (unless you are actively taking steps to ruin it for them because you can’t have it, in which case, please see me after class – we need to have a word!)
The feelings you are having are affecting you and no one else. (Unless you’re in a grump!)
So the person you need to take aside is.…yourself.
Sit with the feeling.
This is possibly the hardest thing to do. I certainly find it excruciating; often falling to old behaviour and thought patterns to paper over the cracks in how I feel. You don’t need to hyper-analyse how you feel; instead, just try to accept that it’s valid, that you didn’t choose to feel it, and that you can now choose to help yourself out of it.
Be kind to yourself.
The chances are that you are more successful, liked and closer to your goals than you think you are. No one is harder on you than you are – try to think about this.
‘Their success is not your failure.’
I have this screenshotted on my phone (or a variation of it, I think the quote in its original format is attributed to Latasha Haynes. It’s true, so true. It’s something I need to remember, and if it were the other way round I would never want someone to feel like they had failed because I had succeeded.
What advice would you give someone else who was feeling like this?
Think about this. Why wouldn’t you give the same advice? My advice, as well as that listed above is to think about what you have achieved, how you previously have felt great in the past, how much you have travelled/love you have had surrounding you. Remember that whatever it is, you will feel that way again.
Make a list…
We at Mindfizz LOVE lists (you might have gathered!). They are powerful tools in seeing on paper or pixel what is in your head. In my case, I write down everything I’m looking forward to, everything I’m proud of and everything that makes me happy. Seeing how much love and joy I have around me and reminding me of reasons to feel excited really helps kick my bad mood and lets me see the flowers among the dead leaves.
Flowers don’t grow in competition with each other. They just BLOOM!
If you are finding social media (Instagram is a terrible offender for this) to be exacerbating the problem, take a break from it. See if it helps your mental health. Failing that, if they are strangers, unfollow them and find some accounts that empower you rather than make you feel rotten. If they are a friend, see how you feel after posting a compliment to their page. All comparison is appreciation, why not let it manifest as that? (Also works for stranger’s accounts too!)
Likewise, you only see the beautiful bit of flowers, not the roots that are fighting frozen soil, bugs and burrowers to get out and show off their petals. The chances are that if you could see what it took for some people to get what they dream of, you wouldn’t want to go through it. Another quote I always think of around this is: ‘If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back’ – Regina Brett. It’s true. When our minds are haunting us for not getting the thing we wanted or having the perfect life, it edits out the struggle of the one we are holding aloft in our heads as the Perfect Person. We don’t think about their pasts, their tragedies, or the things they have overcome and we trivialise the things we ourselves are overcoming too.
Give yourself some credit. Look ahead; make plans…
And finally…use it as inspiration!
As long as the thing you are aiming for isn’t harmful to you or anyone else, go out and get the thing! Maybe congratulate the person, and if they wouldn’t find it inappropriate, ask them for tips on how they got to where they are. (Do consider the danger of only talking to someone and asking for their help if the only time you ever wish them well is to do so as a pre-cursor to asking them for help….! It isn’t a kind thing to do and only people with great patience – certainly not me- will entertain you!)
Make a plan on how to get what you want – make it specific, not vague; budget for it (not just with money, perhaps with time and the effort it will take alongside your day-to-day), and then set the goal and take steps every day to make it a reality.
You’ve got this!