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The Thief of Joy

Every summer until I was seventeen, I would go to McComb, MS, and stay with my dad's side of the family. It was by far the best time of my life. They loved me so much. One thing that stands out in my mind is how they always complimented me on how beautiful

and smart I was. There was no doubt in my mind that I was everything they told me. I had no reason to think otherwise. I felt it in my soul. I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt special. It was my truth.

The end of summer break was always bitter-sweet. I hated to leave but I was always ready to go back home. My friends were there, and I was excited to start the new school year. It was also bittersweet because going home would also burst my truth bubbles.

Back home, I felt like a nobody. I did not feel beautiful. I did not feel smart. I did not feel accepted. Comparing myself to the people around me uprooted every truth I had about myself.

The comparison trap and the questions they produced would haunt me for years. Hell, to be completely honest, the questions have not gone away, but knowing my truth and embracing my story takes the breath out of every power they once had over me.

Theodore Roosevelt said,” Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we compare ourselves and our truths to what others have, or simply how they are, we are making ourselves feel inadequate and deflated. It steals us away from satisfaction with our own life. We see one thing in a person that shows us how we would like to be, in success or worth, and make an instant assessment of comparison.

How do we change this? How do we stop comparing ourselves to others? Here are a couple of things I do when I find myself drifting back into this old habit.

  1. Immediately and honestly identify what is triggering your emotions. Usually, it comes from feeling inadequate in a certain environment, feeling like you do not have enough knowledge on a particular topic, or being around someone you feel is "winning." Do not compare their journey with yours. Take a deep breath, calm your mind of chatter, and begin to remind yourself to take this opportunity to be inspired by their story and use it as motivation and not a comparison trap.

  2. Practice self-compassion. Give yourself a break, sis. Compassion is different from making excuses. We all have desires that take each of us on different paths to fulfill them. Some make it faster than others, but the key is to keep moving. Celebrate the small wins and embrace the woman you are becoming in the process.

  3. Start making moves. Let us accept that comparison is a way that our brain likes to work out how we are doing. So, how are you doing? What is that thing you are desiring so much that it is making you mad when you see someone else doing it? What are you waiting on? Start praying, journaling, researching, and taking small steps of faith to get the ball rolling.

  4. F*** Fear! Unless we understand how to change and control our relationship with our fears, we will be limited by them. Living your life on your terms will make comparison less relevant.

What thoughts did you once have about yourself that you no longer believe? Who or What are you comparing your life to, and why? If these questions are not properly addressed, they will continue to control your mind and dictate your life.

Sis, knowing who you are is what will keep you alive. Do not allow your outside circumstances to change your inner truths. Yes, you are! Yes, you can! Yes, you will. Period.

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