5 Ways Humility Can Help You Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

There is a natural tendency that we all have to compare. Even a two year-old is capable of quickly recognizing if they have less fruit snacks than their siblings. Comparing in of itself is not wrong and can be a valuable skill set—for example– comparison shopping can allow you to get the best deal on your new phone, car or groceries. However, we often have a tendency of comparing apples to oranges. We will look at our weaknesses and compare them to the strengths of others. We will stand in awe of the woman who obviously makes it to the gym in the morning when we are struggling to get our kids to school on time. We will focus on something we are struggling with and then notice the person who seems to excel in that area and this usually does not foster positive feelings towards that person. This usually leads in the direction of self-loathing and being critical of our ourselves and our weaknesses or to feelings of envy and jealousy of the person we view as successful in an area we are lacking in. However, there is one characteristic that everyone can develop that will directly counter these outcomes of our natural tendency to compare: humility.

One: Being humble is a way that you can still recognize your own weaknesses and the strengths of another without the overwhelming negative feelings. Humility allows you to recognize and remember that we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses that we can improve. Humility allows us know that there is room for growth in all of us for a reason. We can focus on our own self-improvement and look of ways to work on and get better and allow others the same opportunity.

Two: Being humble also helps us to be kind to ourselves. When my mom is overwhelmed, she often says, “I am only one person.” It is helpful to remember this and that we are not meant to be more than just one person–a person who will make mistakes–a person with flaws but a person who is learning. We are one person but we make a huge difference.

Three: Being humble allows us to create true connections. It does not mean being weak nor that we should allow ourselves to be at the dictates of someone else. Recognizing that we have weaknesses does not mean that we negate our strengths. In fact, it helps us relate and connect more to others realizing that we all have strengths and things that we offer to this world that make a difference. Humility allows for us to reach out for help when we need it and creates connections with others which is the strongest predictor of happiness. (truth-or-myth-connection-is-the-strongest-predictor-of-happiness)

Four: Being humble also allows us to remember that everything we have–our time, our talents and skills, our health and energy, even our very lives come as free gifts from God. When you recognize that you have been given talents and gifts, it makes it much easier to share them.

Five: Being humble means being teachable. We can seek to learn from those that have strengths in areas that we might be lacking. We are not meant to know everything but we are meant be be able to learn. Being humble is what makes the true difference in learning. My daughter was having a difficult time with a particular subject in math. I can remember this feeling as I was in math class in high school. Math had been pretty simple for me growing up and then for some reason geometry happened and I can remember looking around in class thinking I was the only person who just wasn’t getting it. My counsel for my daughter was the same counsel I would have given my 9th grade self–raise your hand. Acknowledge if something is hard for you to understand. Your teacher does understand it and can help you. When you acknowledge what you don’t know, you allow your mind to focus on learning that exact information. Humility is the key to learning.

So, the next time you recognize the feelings of envy that are derived from comparing, give yourself a dose of humility. Refocus your energy on ways in which you can use the talents that you have been given and look to learn from those around you. Being humble makes a real difference.

Tuesday Tip: The Importance of Distinguishing Between Shame and Guilt.

There are few words and feelings that make such a profound difference as the difference between these two five-letter words: Shame and Guilt. While you might think they are synonyms, you will be surprised to know that psychologically speaking, they are more distinct than you might think and understanding their differences can be life altering.

So, what’s the difference? According to renowned researcher/storyteller, Brené Brown, PhD, LCSW, the difference is huge. Brown has been researching shame for over ten years and her TED talks have garnered over 10 million views. She defines shame as the “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” Shame focuses on yourself: “I am a bad person… I am stupid…I am a failure.”

She defines guilt on the other hand as “holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.” She view guilt as adaptive and helpful and focuses instead on the behavior: “This behavior is bad…that was a really stupid thing to do…that outcome was a failure.”

According to Brown, “Shame [is] highly correlated with addiction, depression, eating disorders, violence, bullying and aggression. Guilt? Inversely correlated with those.” What does that mean? That means the ability to change the way in which you talk to yourself (guilt vs. shame) or your internal dialogue can dramatically change the outcome.

Guilt serves as a motivating factor to change whereas shame becomes the catalyst to the downward spiral of self loathing that has been correlated with depression and addiction. For example, I could do really poorly on a test and say to myself: “Dang it. That was a mistake. I should have studied differently.” Now, I still feel bad and the event didn’t change-I still did poorly, but I am motivated to fix that mistake.

Check out the difference with shame: “Dang it. I am such a loser. I am so stupid. I don’t know why I bothered to think that I would ever be good at taking a test.” Shame cuts at your self identity and does not inspire you to move forward but rather stay in a downward spiral of negative thoughts.
The ability to change the self-talk — and believe it — can dramatically change the outcome.

So, today’s Tuesday Tip: examine your internal dialogue. Is it more inline with shame or guilt? When you or someone you love make a mistake, allow your feelings of guilt to inspire a course correction. As I lovingly repeat to my kids on a daily basis: “Peirce’s make mistakes and Peirce’s fix mistakes.” They might have the same number of letters but feeling shame and guilt are extremely different and distinguishing between them is an absolute game changer.

Three Tips on Love From Mister Rogers {Including a One Minute Tip That Will Enhance Your Life}

For over 30 years, starting in 1968, Fred Rogers entertained and enlightened millions of viewers on his popular PBS television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Even now, 50 years later, PBS still airs an animated show created and produced by the Fred Rogers productions called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” The impact of Mister Rogers is undeniable and difficult to measure. Here are three tips from Mister Rogers specifically about love.

Tip #1: “You don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.”

This is a quote from Mister Roger’s commencement address at Dartmouth College in 2002. He was explaining the meaning behind a song from his popular PBS television program:
“It’s you I like.
It’s not the things you wear.
It’s not the way you do your hair
But it’s you I like.
The way you are right now
The way down deep inside you.
Not the things that hide you.
Not your caps and gowns,
They’re just beside you.
But it’s you I like.
Every part of you.
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you remember
Even when you’re feeling blue.
That it’s you I like,
It’s you, yourself
It’s you.
It’s you I like.”

Knowing that we are inherently loved–not because of anything that we have done or accomplished but simply because we are, is one of the most crucial concepts that we learn.

Tip #2: “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It’s an active noun- like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

I like you just the way you are does not imply that there is no room for change or growth. In fact, as Mister Roger explains, “I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.” Love is the ingredient which allows for any and all positive attributes to flourish and grow.

Tip #3: “When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the facade, and of course the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.”

Recognizing and accepting our own strengths and shortcomings allows us to appreciate and accept that the humanness of everyone else and to truly love them. Mister Rogers noted, “What interests me so much about the characters of the Bible is that they make mistakes but God uses them anyways, in important ways. Nobody is perfect, but God can even use our imperfections.”

Mister Rogers’ wisdom about love cannot be understated. Today’s Tuesday Tip is an exercise developed by Mister Rogers that within one minute will enhance your gratitude and cultivate the love that you feel.

Mister Rogers was an advocate for what he called the silent minute. During this minute he would ask that you think about those who have helped you become who you are today. Whether they were near or far away or even in heaven, if they’ve loved you and encouraged you and wanted what was best in life for you he asked that you honor them and devote some thoughts to them during one silent minute. Imagine how grateful they must be that during your silent times you remember how important they are to you.

Try the silent minute exercise and see if your gratitude and love increase. Those 60 seconds can easily end up being your favorite part of your day. In the words of the infamous guru of childhood programing:

 

Balance Is Not Something You Just Find, But Something You Can Create.

Whether you are seeking small changes or searching for big miracles, the proven tips and strategies you find here can help you improve the way you think and feel about yourself and help create the quality relationships that we all want and need.

“Tuesday Tips” are designed to be practical, shareable tips with explanations to how they can impact and improve your emotional health and relationships.

Truth or Myth? These posts shared on Thursdays are designed to provide practical points to ponder and help provide psychoeducation to truths and myths about all aspects of emotional health.

Do you have a question that you would like answered by a licensed marriage and family therapist? Feel free to contact me with your question. Your question may provide the answers that will benefit others as well and all responses will be posted without any identifying information. Answers to questions asked can be found here.

Regardless of where you are in your personal journey, welcome! I hope that the practical, proven tips, strategies and answers you find here will help you on your journey to create the balance we all need. Practically speaking, “What you do today can improve all of your tomorrows.” (Ralph Marston)

-Brita