“If a negative thought arose, I’d repeat a positive one eight times in a row to counteract it. Soon, I began loving myself, imperfections and all. I stopped comparing myself to others (never compare yourself to others), and at last, I started to look good to myself.” – Tina Turner
I don’t know about you, but I was really saddened by the loss of Tina Turner. Not only was her music the background to my youth, but her wisdom through incredible adversity made her an icon. She had and still has a rockstar brand. One of no judgment, no comparison, no self-depreciation.
Imagine if we all could see the strengths and not the weaknesses when we look at ourselves and others. That’s hard. It always has been hard, and now social media makes it even harder. We have a 24/7 highlight reel that makes us think everyone has it together but us.
You are what you think and what you do. That’s your brand. So, self-flogging, self-depreciation, and self-judgment define you. And it’s bad for your health. The old saying, “garbage in, garbage out,” still holds up.
I’m guessing you can think of someone that is routinely hard on themselves, and it’s become part of their personal brand. Now, ask yourself: Is that person someone I enjoy being around and want to help?
Judge and Jury
Judging others says more about you than the other person. It has everything to do with ego and making yourself feel better or worse. It’s basically your inner monologue spewed on other people.
It also restricts you from finding the good in anyone. People are more than their clothes, their jobs or their cars. When you judge someone, you limit what may be someone’s best qualities. In past blogs, I’ve talked about looking for opportunities to help others in order to reach your own goals. You can’t do that if you hide behind the blinders of judgment.
So where do you start to change this nasty habit? With yourself – your inner monologue. Here are a few ways to stop yourself when you feel negativity coming on:
- Look for opportunities to see something special about someone. Get to know them beyond your 3-second impression.
- Embrace empathy. The whole reason you’re judging someone could be a trait you don’t like within yourself. So practicing empathy and compassion, knowing how hard life can be, can go a long way.
- Reword your judgment. I have a friend who manages a very difficult team member. Because of her struggle with him, nothing he did – no matter how good – could move the needle for her. Finally, she realized her own struggles were the issue. She had to reframe her thoughts from “I do not like him; he drives me crazy” to “I do not like the way I handle situations with him; I am stopping myself from seeing the good.” It put the responsibility for her emotions back on her, where they should be.
Judgment’s evil twin is comparison. They go hand-in-hand to create imposter syndrome. When you compare yourself to someone, you are making a judgment – about yourself and about them.
And it’s never flattering. It’s always to drag someone else down so you feel better or elevate someone else so you feel justified in self-depreciation. That’s it. It’s ugly.
Also, when you compare yourself to others, it’s rarely apples to apples. You compare your weakness to someone else’s strengths. That mindset dictates your behavior too. And while, yes, sometimes comparison can be used to motivate, it most often is self-defeating. It’s seeking out ways to be unhappy! A self-imposed spiral into negativity.
How do you break the cycle of comparison? You guessed it: You get right with yourself. You become, well, you. No one is a better version of you than you. Here are some steps to living your life and not someone else’s:
- Be grateful. It takes practice. I write a lot about being grateful because it’s the hardest thing to remember and yet the most rewarding. Check out a previous blog post of gratitude.
- Look beyond the highlight reel. Ahem, perhaps put down your phone and stop looking at everyone’s best days on social media? Seriously. Realize that in the background of that perfect shot is a messy house or a screaming kid or tears shed in the late hours. No one’s life is perfect.
- Live in reality and invite others in. The sooner you’re real with yourself about your own struggles and share that with others, the sooner you’ll notice real, quality people who surround you and want to lift you up to achieve your potential.
- Help someone else. When you are focused on relating to and supporting others in their goals, you quickly get distracted from the comparison game.
If you’ve been wrapped up in judging yourself and others, it’s time to reintroduce yourself to yourself. You may have really messed up in the past, or harshly judged someone else, or cut off a potential friend because of comparison.
You deserve a second chance. So do they.
Recently on an episode of Ted Lasso, I was struck by Ted’s sentiment: “I hope either all of us or none of us are judged by the actions of our weakest moments, but rather the strength we show when and if we’re given a second chance.”
Start your second chance today:
- Write three of your best qualities. I am… proactive with my organizational skills, dedicated to helping others outside of work, good at cleaning, great at singing… This isn’t your resume. This is personal. This helps you focus on your strengths and pushes away comparison.
- Celebrate yourself and others. Big or small – everything is an achievement. Get some ideas and understand how important this is here. Embrace the mentality of competition with yourself vs. comparison.
- Get to know someone you would have judged in the past. Actively look for opportunities to be compassionate and empathetic.
This July, as we celebrate our country’s freedom, let’s remember to also break free of those shaming mindsets. Judgment and comparison are like bricks around your neck that hold you back from true joy. Bricks aren’t meant to help you float! They are anchors in your self-destructive thoughts.
Tell your inner monologue to take a break this month! Let’s break free and say goodbye to Judgey July!