Feeling Behind in Life? Read This
Feeling left behind is something I experienced a few times in the past, and I have noticed that other people in the larger society tend to identify with this feeling too. When I thought about this on a personal level, I realized that at a particular point in time, I had spent time looking at the profiles and timelines of my friends and colleagues on Instagram and LinkedIn and I felt the pressure of feeling behind. One example is, when a brilliant friend of mine accepted a job in an international organization, I felt disappointed about how I just resigned from my job after over a decade in the corporate world and was fully on the “scary” path of entrepreneurship. It seemed like I was way down at the bottom (since I was just starting from scratch as an entrepreneur), while others were flying high in their corporate careers.
So, I went off Instagram and LinkedIn for several months, and only recently returned on my terms, making sure social media works for me instead of the other way. I am now mindful of how I play into the comparison game with my posts. I started focusing on the abundance around me…finding the strength to workout, eating healthier, spending time with my daughters, getting unexpected cash, life progress, and whatever else makes life feel abundant. And this changed my life. Action leads to calmness and certainty.
Maybe yours is not about social media profiles. Maybe you are a fitness coach and you compare yourself to other people coaching better than you, or maybe your friend who started a business one year after you is already doing much better than you. The need to compare is built into us. If you have a garden and your neighbor’s garden seems to be yielding more beautiful flowers than yours, naturally you would want to know what they are doing differently.
Sometimes, it is not even about other people. For example, I am a very driven person. Sadly, this “drive” has robbed me of a lot of peace and joy. I have found that the need to be more and do more can make it hard for me to be present at the moment. I have had times in the past when I would be upset with myself for not developing things that I could with my talents and gifts. At that point, it surprisingly is not much about others, just how much I am failing myself.
What helps me stay on track now and avoid unhealthy comparison either with myself or with others is, I write down every piece of proof that where I am is indeed where I need to be and that my life is great just the way it is.
Part of the comparison problem especially online is most people tend to project the impression that they do not experience anxiety and stress in their lives. And this leaves onlookers feeling left behind. During my time of personal retreat, I realized that this desperate idea of feeling left behind is a result of a lack of self-appreciation. Self-appreciation is about being happy with yourself, and with the great and not-so-great things about where you are, without being complacent to stop moving forward. I remember when I started working out despite my body’s resistance, without much effort I started craving healthier foods and even yearning for my next workout. This experience is an act of self-appreciation. The more I do it, the more I want to keep doing it. If I maintain the right motive, there will never be any need to compare myself with other people.
Self-appreciation provides you with the opportunity to realize your potential, while loving and adoring your journey, and embracing your uniqueness at the same time.
Something else that can take you out of the anxiety of feeling behind is to make the move and ask questions to those people you compare yourself with. Ask about their life story, how much effort it took, and if they have tips to share — that way it’s a win/win, they feel special teaching about something they know, and you learn something new. Then you can use that information to prepare a roadmap so that every day you do something that helps you get closer to your objectives.
It is important to note that it is YOU and only YOU than can determine the yardstick for measuring your life. So, the quality of everyone’s life depends on various situations. Hence, you cannot judge someone as being better than you because the criteria for the measurement is subjective. Life is dynamic and anybody can fully change the direction of their lives at any point in time.
So, accept yourself as you are. Become so consumed in making strides toward your dreams that when you see other people succeeding in their lives, it will become a source of encouragement rather than envy. The bible talks about being content with whatever state you are in.
Keep on doing the work and trust your process.
Stop using other people’s yardsticks to measure your life. Commit to your journey and pace yourself.