It is quite common that during different moments of our life, we compare ourselves. By doing that, we measure our happiness by what other people have or don’t have. It is so easy to get used to doing that and our society emphasis on consuming contributes to that immensely. But that’s the perfect recipe for frustration. "Why?", you ask? Because when we compare, we always lose. Let me explain.
Every time we compare ourselves with someone else, being it about who we are or to what we have, we are reinforcing the idea that there is something lacking. That for you to feel better, someone needs to be or have less. That said, it is impossible for us to feel happy or satisfied, ever. Because the truth is: there will always be someone that has something that you don’t have. We are all unique beings, with unique characteristics, unique life experiences, and unique value. And when we compare, we are saying to ourselves that we are not or that we don’t have enough.
This appears so much during my sessions with clients and if I am being fair it also hits me sometimes. We are so used to comparing and to change that, we need practice. For my clients, the comparison comes not only within the scope of personal life but also related to the experience of expatriation.
It is quite common, as we live abroad, to compare our life back home with our life in a new country. As we talked about in the latest blog post, it is easy to enter the ‘criticizing mode’ and just think that things were better in our country. The comparison also comes with a sense of guilt, for example, when comparing with other expats (how easily they learn a foreign language, how fast they have found a flat or a job, how easy it is for them to make friends or meet a partner… the list goes on).
However, as we focus on guilt, black, lack and not being or doing enough, we only bring ourselves further from our goals. The reality here is that, when we compare, we are being unfair with ourselves and with others. This is because we compare how we FEEL with how other people SEEM to feel, to their external projection. We are comparing two completely different things, and therefore, will always end up with a false conclusion.
But what can we do about it then? How can we stop comparing?
Well, from what I see, there is no easy-magical fix (sorry to disappoint you!). What there is, though, is how fast we can realize the "comparison game” and triggers, and from there, choose what to do about it. I am sure you've heard the phrase “The neighbour’s grass is always greener”, haven’t you? To counter that, Neil Berringham brilliantly wrote that “The grass is greener where you water it”. Isn’t it comforting? Because that means that we have control about what we feel, how we act, and the results we create.
In a deeper level, that means that we have the power to choose where we put the focus, and from there, to water it daily to make it flourish. We can choose to focus on what we have, what we do well, what a new country has to offer. We can choose to focus on the positive sides of the new place we are living in, and how certain things make us happy and help us grow. We can choose to look at what we accomplished, instead of what we don’t have. And if we want something, we can choose to focus on how we are going to achieve it.
As I write this post on the 3rd Monday of the year, which is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, I have a question to spice your week and help you think about the year that is ahead of us: What are you choosing to water in your life?
Do you feel you need help with changing the focus and creating a more fulfilling life, wherever you are? Are you having trouble feeling at home in the new place you chose to live? Schedule a free 1h coaching session and see how I can help you with that.