The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
- Sylvia Plath
Welcome to week two of the Inner Mean Girl Cleanse! So this past week of the cleanse - which runs from Wednesday through Wednesday - focused on comparison.
The weekly email started with these sage truisms about our inner comparison queens, "One day she's wielding her Inferiority Complex, comparing your worst to everyone's best. Making you feel small, inadequate and like you're a failure. And the next, she's in her Superiority Complex, giving you the illusion that you're better than everyone else. Making you feel alone, distant, and cut off from compassion and humanity."
Some questions you can ask yourself while becoming aware of this tendency are:
* In what situations does your comparison queen show up?
* Do you see more of the Inferiority Complex or the Superiority Complex?
* What does your inner wisdom know about comparison?
As I reflected on these issues in my own life, I found that I have a fierce tendency to compare myself to my past self, especially with my body. Who hasn't thought of what it would be like to be 'high school skinny'? I'm a 40-year old woman who has had two kids, blessedly has no stretch marks, works out several times a week, eats healthy and yet sometimes I kill myself mentally over my imperfections. I really don't find myself comparing myself to other women's bodies, other than sometimes wishing I had this or that for myself. I tend to think 'Good for them for working hard to look beautiful and stay healthy'! But I'm hardest on myself. I also find in my career, if the words aren't flowing, or I don't feel inspired or my writing doesn't read as well or with my unique voice, I compare my writing against my own better articles. And I think my inner wisdom knows that I need to stop it! :) I have a bad tendency to be perfectionist, and that can create all sorts of mental circles and loops I have to circumnavigate before I can be satisfied. I'm trying to just let go, and do my best.
The other area I have a tendency to compare myself to others is financial. On one hand, I’m doing very well in comparison to the vast majority of the world. I know this, and I’ve seen the worst of the worst conditions - glue-sniffing street urchins in Nepal, bedraggled kids begging in Peru. But living in suburbia where most of the women my age are married and stay-at-home moms that don’t work, I sometime envy their lifestyle and I am ashamed to admit it comes out as a Superiority complex at times. I am proud of my career, and how hard I work, and my superiority is really a sort of envy over how easy they have it to have things given to them from their spouses. I found that I even find myself thinking this about my ex-husband in terms of - how stupid was I to leave the stability of having someone paying and helping me out, when now I have to work doubletime to get half the money. Though... of course the story of my long marriage and divorce is far more complex than that. I have to believe that I am where God wants me, so long as I turn my face to Him, seeking Him, looking inward and not comparing myself to others who I have no business comparing myself to (or even my past self!)
When I really look at the situation head on with clear vision, I do truly feel abundantly blessed. God has always provided, even through the times I’ve worried where the next paycheck will come from. Truly, God is good. I have an awesome home, and I love my career even though it is a struggle at times (whose isn’t?). I am trying to turn that comparison focus into focusing on Appreciation, Inspiration and Gratitude - the three actions encouraged by Christine and Amy of the Inner Mean Girl Cleanse. If I feel envy, then I can think positive thoughts about the other person and allow them to inspire me to create an even better situation for myself. Gratitude refocuses my thoughts on the blessings already present in my own life. It calls to mind one of my favorite Bible verses:
[W]hatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. -Philippians 4:8
The Inner Mean Girl Cleanse challenged us this week to think about what area we are rich in, “What is overflowing in your life?” and as I thought about the question my answer was very clear: friendship. I have so many friends, men and women, who are so kind, generous, fun, inspiring people and they live all over the world! That means when I travel I usually get to connect with people and share lunch or coffee or a hike in the forest, or a couple weeks stay sometimes. And then my friends here in Houston are just a truly amazing group of people also! So if I feel a lack in one area, I refocus my mind to the blessings.
Affirmation of the Week: "I am inspired. I easily appreciate myself and others. I am Grateful!"