Comparisonitis is the school playground bully (and she needs to be ignored)
*Special guest blog by the brilliant Laura Oldfield from Power Of Mum*
Picture the scene. You’ve been to Primarni and picked up a new summer dress. You’ve had your nails done (lovely treat) and you’ve got yourself ready for a lovely family day with the kids – perhaps a BBQ with fizz in the evening.
All is well: you pop to the loo for a quick wee and have a teensy scroll on Facebook (let’s face it, you’re a Mum, when else do you get time to go on your phone undisturbed – though if your kids are anything like mine they’re probably hoping to come and visit you even when you’re in the smallest room…) And then you see it.
The picture of that girl at school. The one who was the “popular” one – who was really good at Sport and Art and Music, and got the best grades in her GCSEs.
She looks lean and tanned. She’s smiling at her beautiful baby, whose clothes are pristine white. She appears to be relaxing on what looks like the nicest garden terrace you ever did see. She looks perfect.
And you suddenly feel…icky. Resigned. Shameful that your body isn’t like that. That your kid isn’t that clean. That your house doesn’t have a terrace.
Comparisonitis is the enemy of all strong, confident women and we need to stamp it out. The thing is, even if you’re having the best day, there can still be an image or an experience that can stop you in your tracks. It’s insidious, it’s nasty, and it’s oh so understandable.
We are at an incredible time in our lives – with technology and social media creating a glorious explosion of a social experiment – we don’t know how to use it mindfully all the time, we have no idea how it is affecting the way we feel, the way we parent, the way we live…but we love it for the community, for the warmth, for the togetherness.
I have always considered myself a confident person. I believe that everything works out for a reason, that our path ebbs and flows and that we bend and flex alongside it. And I love life – I think it’s fantastic! My kids are unbelievably…noisy…and lovely, and funny and complex and more amazing (exhausting) and exciting (draining) than I ever could have imagined. But I have had to work bloody hard to beat comparisonitis, and its best friend, Imposter Syndrome.
How do you do it? Here are SIX things that might help you (they’ve certainly helped me):
1. SWITCH THE DAMN THING OFF. Stepping AWAY from my phone is often the single quickest and most powerful way of regaining perspective, of checking in with myself and remembering I’m fabulous. Of remembering that Instagram and Facebook are one version of a wonderfully complicated, messy story, the details of which I can’t possibly know.
2. Gratitude Lists – sounds so daft doesn’t it?! Turns out they really work. I set the goal to do them daily – and on the days I don’t do them I really notice their absence. I tend to think of three things I’m grateful for while in bed before I check my phone.
Then I write my “mantra” for the day in my Positive Planner (I am a huge fan of these, and if you’re interested send me a message and I can get you a cheeky discount…). I end my day with writing everything I’ve been grateful for that day. It can be as simple as my daughter’s life or as complex as securing the interest rate on my mortgage.
3. I am really, really nice to myself. I tell myself I’m fabulous every day, even when I feel AWFUL. I take the time to roll my shoulders back, take five long deep breaths, and to smile. I’ve always been told I’ve got a smiley face, but I’m sure that’s partly because I make such an effort to be a smiley person.
4. I don’t believe I need changing. But if there are things I want to change I give myself time to do one thing at a time. If I start thinking “I want to start running and eat more vegetables and have a more organised diary and get my nails done and book a day with the girls…” then it just starts feeling like work…and there’s enough of that already.
5. I get a reverse lie-in. OOOOH this is wonderful. I get the kids to bed. Have a decaf coffee and good quality dark chocolate. Have a bath with a book. And am in bed by about 8.30pm. Oh baby, this is glorious. I find that so many of my irritabilities or sensitivities can be overcome when I’ve had enough sleep.
6. We are all being told stories ALL OF THE TIME. What you see on Insta? It’s a story. What you see on Facebook? It’s a story. How you tell yourself you are? It’s a story. The best thing about your story? You get to change the ending. You can choose. I choose to be the fabulous hero in mine – what do you choose?
Laura, aka Power of Mum, is a Confidence and Business Coach, who is obsessed with helping women create flexible, fulfilling, creative and balanced businesses and lives. She is also a part time music teacher and professional classical singer. She has a nearly four year old and two year old. Laura has a glorious community of amazing women in the Facebook Power of Mum Tribe, is on Insta as @power_ofmum and her website is www.powerofmum.com Her first group coaching course is launching on Monday 9 July – the course cart closes at midnight on Friday 29 June. If you’d like to find out more about the kind of coach Laura is and who she loves to serve, check out www.powerofmum.com/coaching