By J.P. Reynolds
Years ago I taught high school on the remote Pacific Island of Chuuk. At the beginning of my second year, a new science teacher arrived. Sue had a cute smile, a sharp wit, and she was 6 feet, 350 lbs. She came from Los Angeles and in this town of starlets and models she couldn’t get a guy to give her the time of day.
Sue thought that by running away to an island in the middle of nowhere, she could devote herself to helping people and not have to deal with man problems. However, Sue didn’t do her homework. Turns out, Chuukians prize big women. The heavier a woman, the more beautiful she’s thought to be. Within 48 hours of her arrival, word spread that “Venus” had landed. Sue was pinched while walking through the village and men serenaded her at night.
She endured three months of this passionate attention, and then “ran” back to L.A.
Here in L.A. Sue felt ugly. Not only did she give up on finding love, she gave up on her own self. She fled so as not to have to see the competition. Once on Chuuk, though, she became the “competition” and still she wasn’t happy. For her there was only one standard of beauty — the L.A. standard — and she didn’t match up.
From pre-school to that business meeting you had last week, each of us is constantly comparing ourselves to others. Are we smarter, wealthier, or cleverer than A? Consciously and unconsciously, we engage in this game of comparing, convincing ourselves that “the other” is the true and only standard of what and how we “should” be.
In working with clients, the refrain I often hear is: “I’m not as confident as B”; “I’m not as experienced as C”; “I’m not as outgoing as D.”
While these comparisons might give you some sense of what and who you are “not,” do they really give you a fair sense of who you are? Against whom are you comparing yourself? How fair is it to compare yourself against that person?
What would happen if you did genuinely recognize and respect yourself? Consider this: in the past three months what are two accomplishments of which you feel proud? What do these accomplishments tell you about who you are? Are there personality traits that run through each of these accomplishments? How comfortable are you in recognizing and respecting who you are?
Comparisons are inevitable — it’s just part of being human — BUT, do these comparisons give you a true and healthy sense of who you are and of what you have accomplished, OR, do these comparisons allow you to wallow in a sense of helplessness? Be you. Be powerful.
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