It’s hard to believe. . . just last week we were observing Christmas, with feasting and presents and remembering the Christ Child. It was meant to be a time of celebration and joy.
The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning.
Now, with the new year, we are facing the difficult decision about whether to make New Year’s resolutions – which most of us know we will break. . . sometimes right after we have made them. In spite of the revelry of New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day bring that doubt about what will happen in the new year.
How will our lives evolve?
How will we measure up?
But it doesn’t have to be that way – we don’t have to dread making resolutions, knowing that we will soon be breaking them; or feeling guilty (and a little relieved) at not making resolutions and just try and have a better year.
One of the things that will make the new year more positive and productive is for each of us to stop comparing ourselves to others. I am guilty of this: my sister-in-law is cute and slim and always looks like a million dollars. I can never pull off the look she creates. Every time I am with her, I feel unattractive. I always seem compelled to apologize to my spouse because I am not as attractive, ‘arm candy’ as she is. I tend to forget this good advice:
“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”
We all do it or have done it at some point in our lives: We compare ourselves to others and gauge where we are, based on what we observe about them. In comparing ourselves to others, we usually end up judging ourselves.
And we are harder on ourselves than anyone else is!
It doesn’t matter how many people are on our side, saying good things about us, we still feel lousy.
The thing about comparing is that there is never a win. How often do we compare ourselves with someone less fortunate than us and consider ourselves blessed? More often, we compare ourselves with someone who we perceive as being, having, or doing more.
And this just leaves us coming up short.
But we do want to know where we fit in our world.
So, instead of comparing ourselves to others, why not think about where we have been in the past and where we are today?
We are always becoming someone new. Who we are today is a result of the decisions you made yesterday. We are always in a state of creation. We decide and then we decide again, and the direction can always be toward the better.
So, when we catch ourselves comparing ourselves to another, stop for a moment and re-direct the thought. Instead of submitting to the temptation to compare yourself to someone else, ask yourself a few questions instead.
- What are you doing today that you couldn’t have done five, three, or even one year ago?
- What new decisions have you made or what new actions have you taken that have resulted in your moving in a new positive direction in your life?
- What are your wins this year, compared to last year at this time? How has your life improved? How have you improved? What have you done recently that you never thought you could do?
- What negative behavior have you stopped engaging in, that you never thought you could quit? What positive behavior have you been engaging in that up until now, you have resisted?
- How are you doing more of what you said you were going to do and shown up more consistently for your own success?
In other words, how have you continued to become a new and improved version of yourself?
Becoming a more complete and joyful person than last year is what counts. Comparing ourselves to someone else is destructive and only makes us feel worse.
We must treat ourselves with honor, care, compassion, and praise. Think about the good things we are, what we have changed, and where we are going compared to last year.
For when we recognize our growth, then we can stand taller, feel better about ourselves and continue growing!
Delivered to In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH, 4 January 2015