A guide to living in a world of constant comparison
With the exception of psychopaths and whatnot, most people are good people.
Odds are, you’re a good person. You have flaws. You make mistakes. At times, you might even hurt people and do bad things. But all of these things wrapped together are what make you a whole person.
But what do we do when it comes to the way we judge ourselves? Do we look at ourselves in totality? No. Instead, we keep a running tab of all our fuck-ups.
We compare our real lives to the curated lives of others.
We envy people further along than us without realizing they simply have more experience.
Because you’re a human being, your brain is wired to seek out the negative. It’s ironic. Your brain senses negativity to protect you — activate that flight or fight in case you need it. But you don’t live in an environment that requires that type of brain anymore.
So we’re all a bunch of insecure cave people living in a world with too much stimulus to handle.
This makes us doubt ourselves, have low self-esteem, and walk around with an inaccurate perception of our world and ourselves.
I mean, really, how many people do you see beaming with confidence and total self-assurance on a daily basis? Often zero. In fact, when you do see it, it’s very noticeable.
So how do you remedy this for yourself? Is it possible?
I don’t know if you can ever feel good enough, all the time, without ever feeling negativity or doubt, but maybe you can have the next best thing.
You’re Good Enough, Really, You Are
Usually, when a self-help writer says something like “Believe it and you can achieve it! You are destined for greatness!” it goes in one ear and out the other.
You don’t feel it on that deep level. You don’t believe them.
I often tell people they’re good enough. I think you’re good enough. And I’m genuinely not saying this in a pandering way.
So what angle am I coming from? Well, I’m fascinated with the human condition. I love stories — especially stories about people who overcome huge obstacles and display real resilience.
Seeing these stories woven together over time has helped me realize how powerful, adaptable, and capable human beings are in general.
Knowing this lets me know that you are inherently worthy because you’re a human being, filled with the DNA of a species that has survived ice-ages, plagues, famines, wars, tragedy, etc and came out of the other end innovative, resilient, and evolved.
You have that in you.
On top of it, I don’t think you really give yourself enough credit for how you handle your life.
If you’re a parent, odds are you’re a halfway decent one. This means that you have something you’re willing to put your life on the line for, a mission, and a source to share unconditional love. Even if you don’t always love yourself so much, remember how much capacity you have for another human being.
If you have a job, even one you don’t like, you’ve already shown you have discipline and persistence. It’s just directed in the wrong area, for now. That can always change.
Getting through life in general without becoming jaded and cynical is a feat in an of itself when you think about how hard life can be. So if you haven’t thrown in the towel, you still have seeds of strength and resilience.
And seeds can always grow if nurtured.
I’ve Been Through the Fire, So Can You
My own life story often gives me the strength to tell people they worthy and capable of change. And mean it.
If we could sit down together over a few glasses of whiskey, I could tell you some crazy stories. Stories that, while having some entertainment value, I’m not really proud of.
See, I used to be in a place where I didn’t feel good enough or worthy at all.
I always had something to prove. I acted out because I wanted to be validated, loved, accepted. This is why people do dumb shit, virtue signal, mentally masturbate to outrage porn, lash out at people, so it goes.
You get a pay off — attention — and that’s better than nothing at all.
We’re all signaling because we don’t feel at ease with ourselves.
What helped me make that transition was realizing that nobody else can validate me. Even if I perceive it that way, I still make the choice to feel validated.
Once I understood that I started to improve my life to validate myself:
- I started writing because I liked it, not because I wanted to become a famous writer
- I started meditating to understand my mind and be okay with my neurotic thoughts, not because I wanted to get rid of them
- More and more my work and my mission, while serving others, are perfectly aligned with what I want. I won’t create stuff for the sake of popularity, chase money, or do anything because of someone else’s opinion
I wanted to be proud of the person I saw in the mirror. And doing that, consequently, attracts people and opportunities ten times better than being desperate for attention, love, and acceptance.
So…work for yourself, but work!
You’re an Unfinished Product
I’m not going to let you off the hook.
See, understanding your inherent worth is great. Self-care is great. But that doesn’t mean don’t try hard or have no goals.
You want to self-actualize for yourself but do it nonetheless. Don’t leave potential on the table because of a false sense of contentment. Push yourself and challenge yourself to keep creating your own little “personal records.”
This makes you more confident.
An object in motion stays in motion. And since human beings always have that underlying sense of not being good enough, you’re going to need that momentum to keep you in the right state.
I’m reasonably well-adjusted. I’m not super-neurotic. There are many things I’m proud of — writing books, giving talks, living my dream. But I still have an endless well of self-consciousness sponsored by The Resistance.
There’s plenty I don’t like about myself and wish I could change. But, instead, I try to focus on my mission. I focus on validating myself through doing the things I love and putting my heart in them.
And this isn’t to rid myself of insecurities. I do this to become a whole person. I’ll always have insecurities and so will you, but you can find a way to sort of integrate them into your life along with your mission.
You let your insecurities push you to get better, but not to the point you overly judge yourself. It becomes a metaphorical “tough love” football coach archetype. The coach yells at you to do more drills because you’re not good enough, but then he takes you out to dinner after practice and talks about your future with you.
That’s the balance you’re looking to strike.
Always Remember This
It seems we living the American dream. But the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem. The prettiest people do the ugliest things. For the road to riches and diamond rings — Kanye West
It’s important to remember that we’re all living in this weird Matrix of self-consciousness, signaling, comparison, curation, totem pole measurement, etc.
Again from Kanye:
“We’re all self-conscious I’m just the first to admit it.”
We’re all so afraid of each other. So afraid to just be our actual selves. All the time. Everybody is like this. When you remember this, it can make you kinder to yourself and other people at the same time.
It’s pretty hard to get into this frame, but when you realize people are just as self-conscious as you are, just as nervous and neurotic as you are, and just as worried about your opinion as you are of theirs, it can help you chill out a little bit.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are highly confident in areas that others are low in, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, it seems the world moves too fast for us to understand and accept this, but maybe you can be the one to add a piece of positivity into the world.
That’s pretty much all I’m working on these days. I want to send positive vibes into the universe. I want to be okay with myself and I want to be okay with other people, flaws included.
My mission is to help people to know, help you know, that it’s ok. You’re ok. You’re good. I mean it.
The yin and yang. Duality. We need it. A little self-consciousness and a little motivation & positivity are a good mixture. Just the right concoction to water the seeds of greatness.