How to stop comparing yourself to others

Before I started therapy, I obsessively compared myself to others all the time. Subconsciously, I allocated a status to every person I spoke to and in most cases I saw myself as inferior to them. This is called inferiority complex and it was the driving force of my anxiety and depression, deeply rooted from my childhood experiences of constantly being abused for not being good enough.

I’ve noticed that people compare themselves against others regularly which is devastating. Mark Twain was right: “Comparison is the death of joy.”

Here are my 4 ways to help you stop comparing yourself to others:

  1. Only compete against yourself
    Comparing yourself against others is unfair because we are all completely different. We have different skills, strengths and weaknesses. We are all at different stages in our journey of life. In the same way you wouldn’t compare a lion to a bird, it doesn’t make sense to compare yourself against everyone else. Each are special in their own way. Therefore, you should only aim to beat your previous best.
  2. Limit social media usage
    People only show off the best parts of their lives on social media. When you’re bombarded with everyone’s selfies of them having a great time out, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that their life is better than yours. Realistically, selfies are often forced and not at all an accurate representation of someone’s quality of life.
  3. Avoid putting other people on a pedestal
    Some people appear to be very successful in all aspects of their lives. They seem unstoppable and everything always seems to go their way. However, it’s important to realise that we all have weaknesses, regardless of our success. A colleague could be excellent at their job at work, but this very person who you envy, could be on the brink of divorce with their spouse at home. You just never know the whole picture.
  4. Realise that there is only one of you in this universe
    Nobody can think the way that you do. Nobody has experienced all the pain and joys in life as you have. Nobody knows all of the things that you know. You’re an original copy. You don’t have to be amazing like him/her, you can be amazing like you.stop-comparing-comic2

I’m finally 18! Here’s what I’ve learned

Having suffered from anxiety and depression for so long, I NEVER thought I’d make it to my 18th birthday. Suicide was always on my mind or I always thought that my father would end my life before it. But here I am! Healthy and feeling grateful to be alive.
So I thought I’d share with you 18 things I’ve learned in my 18 years of living:

  1.  Speak to yourself as you would speak to your best friend
    When I recognised how horribly I was critiquing myself in my head constantly, it shocked me. I thought, if I’d never speak to my friends like that then why I would I speak to myself like that?
  2. Rejection isn’t always personal
    There are some things in life I have pursued and been rejected from. There are various factors which can go into rejection and I’ve learned not to automatically assume that it’s because I’m not good enough. Sometimes it’s not you, it’s them.
  3. Be honest
    It sounds very simple but I didn’t realise how much easier life is when I’m straight to the point. I don’t talk in riddles, say things vaguely or play mind games any more. I try to cut the bullshit and prevent misunderstandings.
  4. Think the best of people until they prove you otherwise
    Instead of negatively judging people before I’ve even gotten to know them properly, I now give people a chance. It’s amazing how many more people I appreciate as a result.
  5. You don’t have to be friends with everyone that wants to be friends with you
    As a person with low self-esteem who previously only had a maximum of 2 friends at a time, I thought that the more friends I had, the better. After letting in too many people, I realised that friends can be very toxic and it’s about quality – not quantity.
  6. School isn’t the most important thing in life – Education is
    Learning and expanding my horizons is an important responsibility. School is a medium which can help me with that, but it’s also a very stressful and flawed system. I wish I didn’t let exams stress me to death because in the end they do not matter.
  7. Social media is a huge waste of time
    Since I’ve deleted a few apps like Snapchat and Instagram, I’ve been feeling the hours in the day more. I don’t just lose them to mindlessly addictive scrolling. It makes room more many opportunities and making real, deeper human connections.
  8. People are unreliable
    Because we’re humans, we’re all prone to making mistakes. The mistake I made is thinking that I could always count on people – not just friends but also professionals, and I’ve been let down. The only person I can truly count on is myself.
  9. If you want change, take action
    I’ve always felt this impulse to fight for what I believe in and seek answers, but it’s very scary. Also I can be a bit lazy (oops). Pushing myself to do things that are seemingly uncomfortable has made me realise that I’m braver than I thought.
  10. It’s not natural for the woman to be the pursuer
    Sure, it could work. But in more cases than not, if the woman is doing all the work and is starting to feel like a fan that the guy has no time for then it’s clear where the woman stands in his life. If he liked me back, I’d be his priority.
  11. Don’t befriend someone just because you feel sorry for them
    I have a soft spot for lonely people because I know how painful it can be, so I like to take it upon myself to be their hero and befriend them. This has always backfired because it turns out we aren’t necessarily compatible as friends.
  12. Smiling is powerful
    I’ve built up a good rapport with senior teachers just by giving them a big smile every morning and they smile back. It becomes a special regular thing. In a society where smiling at people has become rare, it’s a powerful tool to radiate good vibes.
  13. Most people are willing to talk about anything
    I thought being a good conversationalist meant knowing exactly what to say before even having the conversation, so I was a nervous wreck whenever I spoke. Slowly, I realised that I’m supposed to go with the flow and speak my mind in the moment.
  14. People’s opinions don’t matter
    I still have a hard time constantly keeping this in mind but before I recognised this, I took everything that was said to me to heart which hurt. Just because someone says or thinks something about me, it doesn’t make it true.
  15. Everyone has problems. Literally everyone.
    Family problems, money problems or health problems, we’ve all got them. I thought I was the only sad person in the universe before I learned that depression was a thing. People look like they’ve got everything together but they don’t.
  16. Don’t equate your life experiences with other people’s life experiences
    There’s nothing worse than when people tell me about a similar life experience they’ve had and completely undermine the pain that I feel by making it about them. Everyone has unique experiencesIt’s never the same.
  17. Being alone is okay
    I thought that being seen alone was a weakness because I’ve grown up hearing people use words like “loner” and “loser”at school. Now I feel like being alone is a strength. Solitude is important. If I enjoy my own company, why be ashamed of it?
  18. Everything happens for a reason
    All the amazing and excruciating experiences I’ve had have shaped me into the person I am today. In the moment it can feel like overwhelming, but now I look back and feel so grateful because they were all opportunities to learn and grow.

How to feel worthy

As humans, we desire to be worthy and we seek it in various ways.  However, it’s important to understand that feeling worthy is an entirely an inside job.

I watched a life changing TED Talk called ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ which I have linked below. Here are my favourite points and my take on how to feel worthy:

  • Develop a sense of courage, compassion and connection
    The courage to be imperfect, because you’re okay exactly the way you are right at this very moment. Embrace your imperfections, they are a part of you!
    The compassion to be kind to yourself first and then to others. You can’t be compassionate to other people if you’re not compassionate with yourself.
    The connection as a result of authenticity. Let go of who you think you should be, in order to be who you truly are. That’s how you connect with yourself and with others.
  • Embrace vulnerability
    Understand that what makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. For many of us vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and our struggle for worthiness. However, vulnerability is also the birth place of joy, creativity, love and belonging. When you’re vulnerable you’re learning and you’re becoming a stronger person. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is allowing yourself to be human.
  • Understand that you can’t selectively numb emotions
    When we try to numb the painful feelings that make us vulnerable by drinking, eating or finding a distraction, we numb everything else too. We also numb joy, gratitude, happiness. This leads to feeling miserable and then we numb some more. It’s a vicious cycle. Numbing vulnerability makes the uncertain certain. It’s preventing room for personal growth. So embrace vulnerability. Feel all the emotions freely.
  • Let yourself be seen with your whole heart even if there’s no guarantee
    Know that you are wired for struggle so you are strong enough to handle everything you are going through, by the beauty of human nature itself.
  • Practice gratitude and joy
    To feel vulnerable means that you are alive.
  • Believe that you are enough
    You ARE worthy of love and belonging.

It’s taken me a lot of conscious effort to realise that I am worthy of great things.
It all started off with me surrendering to my vulnerability.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable;
to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” ― Criss Jami

The art of remaining silent

The tongue is a lethal weapon. With ammunition, it can cause mass destruction.

As human beings, it’s within our power to craft sentences by selecting words as a means of communication on a daily basis.  But how often to we actually pause for a moment to think about the impact that our words are having on our quality of life?

Speaking is natural for most of us. Words just tend to flow out our mouths. The type of speech we exude on the other hand, is a habit. For example, some people have developed a vulgar vocabulary and swear after every other word. These people can come off as rude, unapproachable and unhappy. Some people ooze with kind and comforting words. These people can come off as considerate, likable and happy. So when we are speaking to someone who values our words it influences how they feel about us, but more importantly, it can influence how they feel about themselves.

My father only speaks to me to insult me and has done so for as long as I can remember. I grew up terrified of him and I have never felt good enough for him. Being told that I am stupid, ugly and worthless constantly from childhood has stripped me of self esteem for a long time. His words made me lock myself in the bathroom and cry for hours. I’ve lost sleep over it. Up until I started CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) I wholeheartedly believed all of his insults. I thought there was something wrong with me. That I was an awful daughter who couldn’t do anything right because he is never happy with me.

During my early teenage years up until recent, I noticed that his words enraged me so I worked up the confidence to challenge his insults. I know he enjoyed provoking me because arguing is what he does best. We argued aggressively and consistently until he felt threatened by me. Eventually it reached a point where he’d get physical and slap me, push me, punch me, kick me and step on me. I tried to fight back but as a young girl being gripped by a grown man, all I could do is struggle and cry.

Therapy has helped me understand that this man will not change. His words are not true. I’m not the problem.

Today, I was filling out yet another application form for him whilst he stood over me, insulting me.

“Your handwriting is so fucking terrible” (it really isn’t)
Me: *silent*

“Call yourself a student? You can’t even write 1! That’s not how you write 5! Is that an 8??”
Me: *silent*

“You’re so stupid, I’m sick of you! Why are my children like this??”
Me: *silent*

It baffles him. He tries to provoke me more each time but I just don’t give it to him. I remember that it’s not true. I keep my cool. I can’t fight hatred using hatred. I learned that the hard way.

Words are powerful. We can either use them to build people up or break them down.

When in doubt, kill people with silence.

“Silence is a source of great strength. – Lao Tzu”

I’m going social media free!

Recently I couldn’t help but notice what a slave I am to my phone. Constantly unlocking and locking my phone. Mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed and watching Snapchat stories. I even find myself going on Facebook! Who uses that any more?
I’ve tried no not check my phone by turning it off but I always give in. So this requires drastic measures.

Social media is very clever. It tricks you into thinking you have lots of friends and a life, when really all you’re doing is pressing some buttons and staring at a digital screen.

It was really difficult for me to delete Snapchat because it has this “streak” feature whereSnapp.png a fire symbol appears next to a friend’s name along with the number of days we’ve been “streaking”. The streak represents how many consecutive days we’ve messaged each other at least once in 24 hours. My longest streak is 57 days with a best friend. This streak meant a lot to me, but it’s so stupid isn’t it? How Snapchat can make us feel compelled to keep snapping another person just to keep this “streak” going? It’s almost irresistible to break.

However, I’ve had enough. My good friends will remain, regardless of whether or not I have a Snapstreak with them.

A one-to-one deep Whatsapp conversation, or even better, a face to face conversation beats sharing filtered photos with brief and unnatural captions.

Here’s to life without social media addiction!