Getting Out of the Comparison Trap

Most of us know that comparing ourselves to others usually makes us feel worse and most of us do it anyway. We all know by now that there is always someone smarter, more attractive, richer, with a cooler job and with better luck in the fertility department. But knowing that and seeing the reminder in our Facebook feed are two different things.

In fact, that constant reminder is a downer.  Turns out it doesn't actually feel good to think that everyone else’s lives are peachy and smooth so ours feel broken and choppy in comparison. Instead of overflowing with happiness for others' good fortunes, we feel like we're sinking.

Brené Brown says that comparison is one of the elements of scarcity. Scarcity is the “not enough” culture.
“I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”  from Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

When we’re comparing ourselves to a photoshopped version of perfection, we aren’t going to be enough. And I’m not just talking about images. What people choose to share on social media is usually the sanitized and glorified version of their lives. So when we’re elbow deep in our reality, looking at vacation pictures, family photos of tidy and giggling children, clean houses and happy relationships, it’s only normal to think, Geez I’m the only one who hasn’t figured it out. A favorite article that describes this brilliantly can be read here.
How to Stop the Madness
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Narcissism is not a They problem, it’s a We problem

I see a lot of article headlines about offering guidance for detecting narcissists. They’re everywhere, apparently: online, in the workplace and in our bedrooms. The articles are often in “trending” lists, suggesting that the topic resonates with a lot of people and with good reason. A lot of us do put up with narcissistic behavior on a regular basis. But when there is such an abundance of bad behavior, it’s not because a few individuals are twisted. It’s because there is an epidemic, and this one is cultural.

Obviously, some narcissists are more harmful than others, to the point where they can be downright abusive. But a lot of concerns stem from behavior that is more annoying than abusive, so before we go pointing our fingers and talking about how terrible narcissists are, ask yourself if you have ever done the following on social media, (or if you’re not on that, your annual Christmas letter, mass email, etc):

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4 Rules for Apologizing

We all mess up. It’s just part of being human and connecting with other humans. So we all need to apologize once in a while. The thing is, a bad apology can be worse than no apology at all. So here are some tips on getting it right—and these also help me recognize what’s wrong if someone else’s apology feels icky.

Be clear

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coping skills

The Resilience of Anne Frank

 Anne Frank died 70 years ago this month.
Anne Frank has become such a phenomenon that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Her name and her story have come to mean many things to so many people. There is the diary that so beautifully captures coming of age. There is of course the brilliant writer that was murdered, symbolizing the losses of the Holocaust.

And then there is the Anne that was just a girl. She was, after all, only 15 when she died. In many ways she was a typical teenager: she felt misunderstood, fought with her mother, navigated her sexuality, fought for privacy, discerned much of her identity, moved through several crushes in the course of 2 years and mocked those around her.

Trauma haunted her from many sides:

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emotion regulation

When “Don’t Take It Personally!” Isn’t Helpful

“It’s not personal”

What is it about these three words that is so maddening?

As long as people have to interact with each other, there will be hurt feelings. Decisions that don’t go someone’s way, or boundaries disappoint. It’s just the way that it is: not everyone can get their way, nobody can meet the needs of everyone around them, and so it’s just not going to work out for us sometimes.

So when we don’t get the job or spot in school or on the team, our friend can’t do us a favor, someone else gets the position or we get rejected or dumped, it hurts. And it’s okay that it hurts.

Different levels of hurt

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trauma therapy

Your Therapist’s Other Life

If you:

have any friends or family who are therapists
read therapist blogs
watch television about therapists
have located your therapist on social media

… you probably can’t help but notice that therapists don’t always act the way they do in session. Basically in session, I am consistently able to be:

completely engaged
objective yet empathetic
tough but compassionate

Yet, anyone could tell you that I don’t embody those qualities 100% of the time. I don’t know anyone who does, therapist or not. So what gives? Are we being fake in session? Or are we not trying hard enough at home?

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