So, if you’re feeling inadequate, don’t.
When looking at someone who excels where we may fall short, we tend to envy how whole and healthy they seem to be. It shines a light on the attributes we believe we are lacking, making us feel even more inept in those areas than we already do. It may be that the individual exudes confidence or intellect. Perhaps they’ve achieved great success as a result. Maybe they were loved properly and have that piece of life all figured out, while we flounder through unfulfilling relationships. We want what they have and wish we’d traveled the more accommodating path. The thing is, I guarantee that seemingly perfect person is far from it. They may just endure a different struggle.
In some form or fashion, we’ve all been damaged by people and circumstances. We may be in repair or still learning how to get there, but because humans aren’t perfect and life isn’t fair, it’s impossible for anyone to have lived at all without ever feeling broken by something or someone. There is usually at least one aspect of our being that didn’t develop quite as it should have, or as fully as it could. We’re all missing pieces somewhere. If you’ve been fortunate enough to elude this fate, kudos to you, but give it time. Wounds are inevitable and come in many different forms.
Others may be further along in their journey toward healing, but no one is without flaws or fault. We’re often comparing against pseudo-standards. Not that the image of the person we’re using as a measuring stick is a façade, it’s just an incomplete picture.
We’re all out here trying to offer life the best version of ourselves that we have at the moment. We play to our strengths and avoid situations where characteristics that we are uncomfortable displaying may be exposed. What people show us is likely only a fraction of who they are. So, what we’re doing isn’t apples to apples or insecurities vs. insecurities. We’re evaluating what we consider to be our worst against their best. Our self-image doesn’t stand a chance in this fight.
Comparison is the thief of joy anyway, or at least Teddy Roosevelt thought so. Some beg to differ and believe that while it can be a joy-stealer, it doesn’t have to be. It can actually motivate us to improve and work harder toward achieving a goal. It’s when our comparisons are unrealistic or imbalanced that doing so leaves us feeling as though we are not enough.
If we judge our social lives against Kim Kardashian’s, of course, we’re going to think ours sucks, we have no friends and no one likes us. She made a career of being on the proverbial scene. Maybe not on this scale, but these are the kind of impractical assessments that steal our joy. Not to mention that I’m sure even she fights other internal battles. We all do.
I hope that no one takes offense to the idea of being broken. We can be defensive about it, taking it to suggest that there is something wrong with us. I view it more as the room that we have to grow. Omega Institute Co-founder Elizabeth Lesser likens the concept to a flower that has yet to bloom. It has to break open in order to thrive. Those times that we are broken are when our hearts are most receptive.
For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen; a nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.
Sometimes devastation is the start of a beautiful process. Being broken is not a state of which to be ashamed, nor is it a unique endeavor. This is a significant and prevalent phase of the human experience — one out of which we are completely capable of emerging from more evolved than we would have been without having endured the lessons and embracing our scars. The benefit is that we can put the pieces back together however we like. We can arrange them differently, stronger and with a more solid foundation. We can put ourselves back together in a manner that better prepares us to survive the situation that may have broken us down, should we be unfortunate enough to face it again.
On our worst days, we feel ruined beyond repair. We attach all of these lost-cause labels to who we are — unlovable, unworthy, heartless, unlucky, pathetic, categorically unhappy. We water the negative seeds that have been planted inside of us. Then we fertilize them by assuming that others don’t face these same or similar challenges.
We make ourselves an island, as though we’re not only suffering but isolated on this course. This leads to more agony. Some absolutely face tougher tests than others. Yet, whether it’s obvious or not, we’re all in emotional distress at times. We’re all just trying to figure things out as we go.
There is no one way or best way to be and heal. We could mimic exactly what someone else has done and not find the same relief. There is only the method that works best for us. Though, I do believe understanding that we are not alone — that others have been where we are and made it to the other side — is an advantageous perspective to maintain no matter our approach.