Saturday, October 15, 2011

Taking Stock

If you are in the business of comparing yourself to others to gain a sense of your own worth, I have good news and bad news for you.  There will always be someone else in the world – and even in your relatively small corner of the world – who is prettier (or uglier), smarter (or dumber), wittier (or duller), stronger (or weaker), richer (or poorer), better and more passionate than what you are best and most passionate about, less fashionable, more tactful, less concise, more influential, less popular, more educated, less experienced, nicer, and so on.

Comparison with others is a zero sum game.  May I suggest an alternative?
If you simply cannot shake off the need to compare, then compare yourself with the only other person that you can legitimately compare to:  You. 

I’m not talking about identifying the very best you that you hope to someday become, the “Ideal You,” the UberYou, and then comparing your current self to that hoped for future you.  That can be worse than benchmarking yourself against Super Mom down the street; you know, the one with the two gorgeous well-behaved children, perfect body, awesome job, always clean Volvo, and who still finds time to volunteer for three charities.  [Not that I ever noticed…]  UberYou is such a nag – that shadow self out there in the distance who actually has no purpose in your life except to make you regret all the things you have not yet achieved. 
I am talking about taking stock.  Look back at who you were at 13, 25, 33, 40, … last week.  Give thanks for all you have been through all those seasons, and for what past versions of you have brought to you today.  Recognize the compassion you have learned to show to others by living through natural disasters like teenage insecurities or the arrogance of early management responsibility.  Now, can you show as much compassion to yourself?  Can you give yourself an “Atta boy” or “Atta girl” for the courage it took to get where you are today?

When you are grateful for who you are, for all that your genetic material and happy accidents and miseries and achievements have made you (all of which, I believe, are great gifts from a generous Creator who just cannot stop creating in our lives), you can be generous.  It takes courage to be generous, to take stock in this way, and say, “I am rich.  I have surplus.  I have something to give.”

Thankful stock-taking supercharges personal growth.  It allows you to look forward – with compassionate acceptance of the past – to who you are becoming. Not to UberYou (that boob!), but generous, courageous, grateful you.

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