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Toxic Comparison

I know it’s been a while since you’ve seen a new post. Sometimes the words just get stuck because the emotions are overwhelming. A part of me has been trying so hard to find something to write that it came out as a bunch of words that sounded nothing like me. It was then I realized that I couldn’t fake words and content. Neither were working together to get out of my head and onto paper.

True to my overthinking ways, I tried to unpack and think through all the whys and find a solution. I tried to power through and get something on paper. The words were hollow and flat.

There was the seemingly endless amount of time scrolling through social media feeds and trying to figure out what to post next. There are the math/word/riddle puzzles that piss me off because I don’t have the brain power to even try to figure it out. But others did.

Of course, then there are the people who are overachieving even during a pandemic. Trying new projects, doing new things, connecting with more people than ever, enjoying their quality family time, and whatever other beautiful things they were making happen in the face of the global struggle. (Could you hear the sarcasm there?)

Who can forget the complaining about anything that hit them the wrong way from whatever government official they disagreed with that day?

More times than I can count, I’ve found myself in the middle of what Brene Brown calls a shame storm. A place where I feel like I don’t measure up to what others do, say or expect. Where I’m falling short of the expectations of those around me. It starts to feel like a weight on my chest and my back that I can’t lift. I’m supposed to be checking on people, and being a support, and doing all the things, and…yeh.

Do I know that the expectations are coming from my own head? Not at first. My first response to most of these things is, “I just can’t be what everyone else is and what they expect, so why try?” I hibernate inside my head and my heart. I even physically hibernate huddled in my reading space in the corner of my room. In fact, that’s where I am now. At least now I’m making a conscious decision to just be real with myself and with you.

I am sure there is plenty at the root of all the overthinking and the shame storms, but what has had the biggest impact lately…toxic comparison.

Comparing my reality to someone else’s social highlight reel is emotionally dangerous and yes, toxic. It waters whatever seeds of insecurity are already there. The more I compare, the more that seed sprouts, the deeper the roots grow, and the more the thorns on that new plant dig into the wounded pieces of my heart.

So what do I do with that? Do I shut off social media? Do I turn off everything and continue to hibernate? Do I push myself to connect when I don’t feel like I have the capacity to talk to one more person or hear one more story whether it’s happy or sad? Maybe to all of those.

At the true heart of it, I want to come to a place where I realize that I am me and I am enough even if I don’t have much to give on a certain day or in a certain moment. I also want to be in a place where I can allow others to feel and act however they need to.

Are any of the things people are posting meant to hurt me? Probably not. They are posting and sharing for themselves. They genuinely feel they have things to share and they should. They should be proud and excited to connect with friends and loved ones. Showing the world an accomplishment that’s important to them should be celebrated.

So what do I need to do to help myself when toxic comparison throws me right in the middle of a shame storm? I know I need to find someone I trust to share my hurt with. I can take a minute or two to journal and get the emotion out. I can take a minute to stop, drop and breathe…stop what I’m doing, drop into a comfy place (for me usually my reading corner), and breathe. Feel the breathing in my chest and let that be all I think about for just a minute.

I know I’m not the only person who deals with toxic comparison. There’s a good possibility that you have felt this too and may even be feeling a bit of it now.

I hope you’ll take a moment to stop, drop and breathe.

And remember, do your best not to compare reality to the highlight reel.

If you needed or know someone who does, please take a moment and share it with them.

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