COMPARISON: Healthy or Hurtful?

By Anne Boudreau

The Truth Behind Comparisons

Why do so many of us compare ourselves to others? Whether we are evaluating ourselves against relatives, friends, colleagues, celebrities, athletes, the list is long. We expend a lot of our valuable energy in juxtaposing ourselves with other people. Is this healthy or does this cause us to feel inferior?

Why is it we feel the need to assess ourselves relative to other people?

Whether it is someone we admire for some specific reason or someone we think falls short of our standards, comparison is a way for us to point out similarities and differences, which can lead to negative thoughts and emotions such as jealousy, loneliness, and unworthiness.

What occurs is this fictitious barometer of self-judgment provides us validation or subjugation. In either case, it is not typically in our best interest. In fact, it is often poisonous to our mindset. Having spent several years of my life comparing myself to others, I know for a fact that it was not helpful at all, in fact, it was detrimental.

The Good in Self-Comparison

Conversely, if you are aiming to achieve a personal or professional goal, such as striving to be more productive, organized, or optimistic, observing someone you believe is a great role model is healthy. Learning constructively from people you respect can be highly motivational. For example, if your goal is to become a better public speaker, and you watch videos of a talented orator, you can gain insight and understanding into how to become a more effective speaker.

The Downside of Comparison

In most cases, when we compare ourselves to others, we are left feeling inadequate. He has more money, or she is in better shape, or she is smarter…A significant truth that I learned long ago is that when we compare ourselves to people we believe to be superior, we label ourselves as flawed, as less than, worse than, below average. In our mind, we perceive that person to be “better,” more attractive or like-able.

An important point to note—and one that most people are unaware—is that our perception is skewed by our own misunderstanding of ourselves. In fact, because our perspective stems from our own poor self-concept, we see others in unrealistic ways, or as my mother always said, with rose-colored glasses. The way we perceive them is obscured by our own self-doubt.

There is No State of Perfection

I have mentioned this in my book, A Human Mosaic: Heal, Renew & Develop Self-Worth, and I speak about it frequently. When we compare ourselves to others, we see them as “perfect,” but no one is perfect. And, there is no state of perfection. We are each distinct human beings who are various shapes, sizes, colors, which is why we are beautiful. Perfection does not exist.

Stop Comparing Yourself

Rather than continue to fantasize about wishing you were someone other than yourself, which is negative energy, why don’t you invest that time and energy into fueling yourself with positive thoughts and finding ways to raise your own perception of yourself. Because the bottom line is, you are equally if not more deserving of admiration.

When you learn to accept, respect, trust, like and love who you are, you will find that comparing yourself to others will diminish from your thinking. Instead, you will focus on growing from within, leaning on your own set of values and beliefs.
Please let me know your thoughts with respect to comparing yourself to others?

Choose to Change: Why Holistic Commitment is Vital to Long-Term Behavioral Change

Change is occurring every moment of every day. Every living organism is dynamic and ever-evolving. This is a scientific fact that no one can dispute. Even though many people do not like change, it is an inevitable factor of being alive.

If we accept that we are constantly changing, that we are organic beings whose energy is constantly in the flow of change, why then are we often resistant to intentionally changing something about ourselves that causes us anger, stress, frustration, or sadness?

How often have we asked ourselves, ‘Why do I keep giving up on my goal to….’ ‘Why can’t I stick to my exercise schedule?’ Is it because we are stubborn? Lazy? Easily distractible? There are many reasons we create to avoid facing the truth. But, reasons are just reasons. Excuses are excuses, a way to back down from a commitment. Excuses do not help us feel better about our half-hearted attempts, they actually make us feel worse. Yet, we continue to think and behave the same way fully knowing that we will fall short of our expectations, let alone objectives.

It is an odd phenomenon that we repeat patterns of thought and behavior that derail and disappoint us. Yet, so many of us do, time and time again, knowing all it will do is cause us additional stress and despair.

Self-Improvement is Not Easy

I have worked with ambitious, intelligent, hard-working, disciplined people who one would think—based on their character traits–would be committed in their personal effort to change themselves, yet even the most inspired individuals struggle with self-change.

Why? Because thoughts and behavior are not easy to change. By the time we are young adults, we have a “way” of doing things, a process in our mind that becomes routine. As much as everyone of us would admittedly love to have a quick-fix to address the issues we find distressing, there is no magic or fad that will achieve sustainable change.

The issues that impede one’s ability to achieve sustainable change vary from person-to-person, and there are one million excuses thrown about when a person does not meet their goals, however, the most common saboteur of attaining change is a lack of holistic commitment.

What is holistic commitment? Firstly, holistic refers to considering the whole person, mind, body, and soul. Holistic means that that every component of who we are is interconnected. Committing holistically to yourself is more than making a decision, choosing a course of action, being mindful, intentional or self-aware—all of which are integral aspects of growth and transformation, and key to long-term sustenance. But, in order to make a meaningful and long-lasting program for self-improvement, a person must have an internal pledge that engages their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions. This pledge is sacrosanct. Untouchable. Irreversible. And, it is one that is aligned with your innermost core being, and is not the result of external pressure. I refer to this as a wholehearted, whole-minded, whole-bodied, whole-souled resolution to which one feels profoundly devoted. This means nothing or no one can challenge or sabotage your pledge to yourself.

When we decide to lose weight or exercise, for example, two of the most common personal care challenges, we typically want fast results, minor effort, no pain, have a short mental timeframe, and most of the time, we are doing it for the wrong reasons. And, the wrong reasons are ones that come from outside of you. Either someone is urging you to do something, or you feel it is something you have to do rather than desire to do. Sustainable change is derived from being wholly and holistically invested, knowing that the road to change takes time and patience, involves effort, setbacks, road blocks, yet you are going to stay the course and do what it takes to feel strong, proud, and healthy.

We human beings have a major advantage when it comes to self-improvement. In fact, it is quite remarkable. Through the science of neuroplasticity, we know that our brain can change at any age or stage of life. When we learn new patterns of thought, and repeat these thoughts for a period of two to three months, our brain forms new neural pathways that enable us to maintain and sustain our new thoughts and behavior. What in the beginning required a lot of time and effort, with repetition becomes habit.

The key is to comprehend and accept that losing weight, eating more healthfully, embarking upon an exercise regimen, learning to be more loving, patient, organized, disciplined, or any personal change that will improve the quality of your life–requires time and your pledge to stick with it. Anyone can change, even in the late phases of adulthood.

With neuroplasticity as the baseline and catalyst for change, each one of us has the capacity to become who we desire by rewiring our brain and changing the habits that have caused us duress.

Begin today. Keep track of your thoughts and those sticky patterns that are nagging at you. Listen to the triggers that try to trip you up, and most of all, be aware and mindful of what you want to achieve at all times as this will help you during the more challenging moments. Remember: sustainable self-change depends on time and your commitment.

Change is occurring every moment of every day. Every living organism is dynamic and ever-evolving. This is a scientific fact that no one can dispute. Even though many people do not like change, it is an inevitable factor of being alive.

If we accept that we are constantly changing, that we are organic beings whose energy is constantly in the flow of change, why then are we often resistant to intentionally changing something about ourselves that causes us anger, stress, frustration, or sadness?

How often have we asked ourselves, ‘Why do I keep giving up on my goal to….’ ‘Why can’t I stick to my exercise schedule?’ Is it because we are stubborn? Lazy? Easily distractible? There are many reasons we create to avoid facing the truth. But, reasons are just reasons. Excuses are excuses, a way to back down from a commitment. Excuses do not help us feel better about our half-hearted attempts, they actually make us feel worse. Yet, we continue to think and behave the same way fully knowing that we will fall short of our expectations, let alone objectives.

It is an odd phenomenon that we repeat patterns of thought and behavior that derail and disappoint us. Yet, so many of us do, time and time again, knowing all it will do is cause us additional stress and despair.

Self-Improvement is Not Easy

I have worked with ambitious, intelligent, hard-working, disciplined people who one would think—based on their character traits–would be committed in their personal effort to change themselves, yet even the most inspired individuals struggle with self-change.

Why? Because thoughts and behavior are not easy to change. By the time we are young adults, we have a “way” of doing things, a process in our mind that becomes routine. As much as everyone of us would admittedly love to have a quick-fix to address the issues we find distressing, there is no magic or fad that will achieve sustainable change.

The issues that impede one’s ability to achieve sustainable change vary from person-to-person, and there are one million excuses thrown about when a person does not meet their goals, however, the most common saboteur of attaining change is a lack of holistic commitment.

What is holistic commitment? Firstly, holistic refers to considering the whole person, mind, body, and soul. Holistic means that that every component of who we are is interconnected. Committing holistically to yourself is more than making a decision, choosing a course of action, being mindful, intentional or self-aware—all of which are integral aspects of growth and transformation, and key to long-term sustenance. But, in order to make a meaningful and long-lasting program for self-improvement, a person must have an internal pledge that engages their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions. This pledge is sacrosanct. Untouchable. Irreversible. And, it is one that is aligned with your innermost core being, and is not the result of external pressure. I refer to this as a wholehearted, whole-minded, whole-bodied, whole-souled resolution to which one feels profoundly devoted. This means nothing or no one can challenge or sabotage your pledge to yourself.

When we decide to lose weight or exercise, for example, two of the most common personal care challenges, we typically want fast results, minor effort, no pain, have a short mental timeframe, and most of the time, we are doing it for the wrong reasons. And, the wrong reasons are ones that come from outside of you. Either someone is urging you to do something, or you feel it is something you have to do rather than desire to do. Sustainable change is derived from being wholly and holistically invested, knowing that the road to change takes time and patience, involves effort, setbacks, road blocks, yet you are going to stay the course and do what it takes to feel strong, proud, and healthy.

We human beings have a major advantage when it comes to self-improvement. In fact, it is quite remarkable. Through the science of neuroplasticity, we know that our brain can change at any age or stage of life. When we learn new patterns of thought, and repeat these thoughts for a period of two to three months, our brain forms new neural pathways that enable us to maintain and sustain our new thoughts and behavior. What in the beginning required a lot of time and effort, with repetition becomes habit.

The key is to comprehend and accept that losing weight, eating more healthfully, embarking upon an exercise regimen, learning to be more loving, patient, organized, disciplined, or any personal change that will improve the quality of your life–requires time and your pledge to stick with it. Anyone can change, even in the late phases of adulthood.

With neuroplasticity as the baseline and catalyst for change, each one of us has the capacity to become who we desire by rewiring our brain and changing the habits that have caused us duress.

Begin today. Keep track of your thoughts and those sticky patterns that are nagging at you. Listen to the triggers that try to trip you up, and most of all, be aware and mindful of what you want to achieve at all times as this will help you during the more challenging moments. Remember: sustainable self-change depends on time and your commitment.

Building Self-Worth Will Change Your Life by Anne Boudreau

Change the Quality of Your Life by Changing How You Feel About Yourself

You may not realize this remarkable fact: Every aspect of your life is impacted by your belief about who you are as a human being. Every experience, every relationship, your attitude, energy, immune system, sexual drive, sleep patterns, ability to heal after injury, all areas are affected by how you feel about yourself.  This is why developing healthy self-worth is pivotal to being able to live the most meaningful life possible.

I have written about the distinction between self-worth and self-esteem, however, it is important to clarify how they differ in terms of their impact on your life. You may not be aware that these terms actually refer to opposite aspects of who we are: Self-worth is the inside you—the value you place on yourself and your life, whereas self-esteem refers to your outward self, your accomplishments and what you do. Of course, these dimensions intersect as they each contribute to your whole “self. ” The way you think and behave results in your actions and performance in the world, however, how you feel about your inner core self, what I call your Soul Self, weighs most heavily on the quality of your life.

If you have lived much of your life suffering from low self-worth, it is never too late to change. Anyone can transform how they feel about themselves at any age or stage of life. We now know that our magnificent brain is not hard-wired, but has the capacity to form new patterns of thought and behavior throughout our entire life. Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, is the term that refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections when we learn new thoughts, skills, and behavior. In fact, engaging our brain in life-long learning has been shown to slow down the aging of our brain as well as mitigate degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, schizophrenia, while also aiding in the rehabilitation of those who have suffered from stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, and spinal cord injuries. Your brain is powerful and nimble, resilient, and ready to help you do anything you wish.

A mantra I developed for myself many years back: I am the Leader of my Life. I learned long ago that no one can change you but you. Through neuroplasticity you have the power to transform long-entrenched thoughts and habits that have impeded your ability to live with inner calm and equanimity. The only excuse for not living a fulfilling life is lack of desire not lack of ability.  If you truly want to change how you feel internally, to squelch that internal tyrant in your brain that is oppressing you from living with joy, follow my lead and begin today. I did it, so can you.

Developing healthy or positive self-worth is the most important mission of your life. Positive self-worth frees you from the anchor of self-doubt, from the inner critic that has berated you, that has distorted your identity.  Possessing self-worth enables you to live with unconditional self-compassion and self-acceptance that is not based on your performance or achievements. Instead, it instills an internal source of strength, stamina, and optimism that is unwavering. Especially during challenging times, healthy self-worth provides you the confidence that things will get better, that with time, difficulties will pass. It enables you to recover from loss and heal from wounds.

With positive self-worth, you can transcend your fears and live with trust and assurance that is derived from self-love. You will have a sense of calm that stems from knowing you will be fine, no matter what. Your self-awareness grows exponentially and enables you to be present to your life and to those you love.  You will enjoy beautiful relationships with others rooted in authenticity and honesty. Your view of yourself and your life will be profoundly enriched and enlightened. 

Be on the lookout for my book that will be released in November that will provide practices to  building healthy, positive self-worth. It changed my life, and I know it will change yours. 

Choose to live with passion, energy, vitality, and make every single moment matter.

With love, always, Anne

Anne Boudreau

selfworthforlife.com  selfworth4life.com @Anneoboudreau

 

The Path To Self Acceptance

In the past several years new buzz words and phrases have cascaded into our lexicon to incite us to be kind to ourselves through self compassion, to have self awareness, and to live in the moment. As well-intentioned as these terms are, how many of us have taken the time to absorb and apply them to ourselves and our lives?

Wisdom and guidance conveyed through popularized expressions are only meaningful on a personal level when we fully understand their intrinsic meaning and, of even greater import, know how to apply them to our lives. As many books as I have read that promote these concepts as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually uplifting and pivotal to inner happiness, life finds a way of intruding on one’s intention to seek inner calm and equanimity.

What I have learned–and lived–is that the path to self acceptance is the greatest path you will ever travel and the most brilliant gift you can ever give yourself. From one who has spent the majority of her life seeking fulfillment through external sources, whether they were relationships, family, love affairs, jobs, travel, wealth, or exercise, nothing external was enough to permit me to feel comfortable with myself and fulfilled in my life.

The revelatory moment came unexpectedly when I lost my beloved father and soulmate. I had never known that level of pain and heartbreak. It felt as though I had fallen through a narrow, never-ending ravine with jagged rocks puncturing my skin and tearing my heart and organs into tiny shards of irreparable matter. For two years, I suffered alone. Yes, I had people in my life who tried to comfort me, but as you may know, the grief one experiences when they lose someone they love so deeply is a lonely journey.  You don’t know how you will get through it, yet somehow, with the passage of time and the flow of millions of tears, the fierceness of the sorrow starts to diminish.

When I was able to find a way out of that dark and painful ravine, my brain started to fire again, and although my heart was still lagging, I felt a sense of clarity. One of the thoughts I wrestled with was how would I ever feel “happy” again, no, it was more akin to would I ever feel normal again?  At some point during my post-severe mourning and into my more-manageable mourning, a revelatory thought arose: Was I still grieving my father or was I grieving the fact that no one would ever love me that much again?  

I soon understood that a large component of my sadness was the unconditional love, affection, and support my father poured into me.  I soon realized that I was missing his steadfast, unceasing approval and praise—he was my biggest fan and I was his. To shorten a very long story, I started researching how to heal myself—-not just from losing someone I cherished—but to examine why I needed someone to tell and show me I was good and successful. Why didn’t I believe this about myself without having to hear it from someone else?

My book, Your Life Matters, is a tribute to my personal quest to build self worth and more importantly, a guide for others who have suffered with a sense of inadequacy to center themselves in self acceptance and self love. My mission was to learn how to have the courage and power to look inwardly for strength and stability, rather than depend on others to make me feel my life was meaningful. I finally grasped what it meant to love yourself unconditionally, accept yourself no matter what, and trust that you will be fine in any situation. I taught myself that I was a good and kind person, and, that I would indeed be able to live the rest of my life without my father’s praise and admiration to hold me steady and upright.

The path to self acceptance is not the path of least resistance, the road that is already smoothly paved for you to follow, however, it is the most important path you will travel during your life. You will learn to live fully and with authentic joy that is not predicated on outward success, rather on inner strength and resilience that is based on the knowledge that you are wonderful and lovable just as you are.

Please send me your thoughts on this and any other blogs.

Love to all of you, Anne

selfworthforlife.com

selfworth4life.com

Why Do I Feel Inadequate?

Where Does My Self Worth Come From?

Have you ever asked yourself this question?  Where does my belief about myself  come from? 

Most of us are familiar with the nature versus nurture debate that delves into whether the behavior of human beings is determined by genes, one’s hereditary makeup, or by environmental variables such as early childhood experiences, relationships with family members and friends, as well as other cultural and societal interactions and exposure.  Although both genes and environment play critical roles in our lives, how we are raised coupled with our life experiences most significantly factor into our identity.

Our genes endow us with a predilection to be mathematical or artistic, have blue or brown eyes, however, our experiences carry more weight with respect to how we feel about ourselves. During our early developmental stages, those in our sphere of influence—our parents, grandparents, guardians, siblings, teachers, coaches—anyone with whom we frequently interact, mold our sense of self and whether we feel worthy or inadequate.

No child is responsible for his or her low self worth. We are not born into the world with low or high self worth. Our trust or distrust is developed during our early years and is one of the most important developmental stages. If our needs are not met early in life, we are likely to be distrustful of others. And, as we grow, if we are subjected to verbal, emotional, or physical abuse, our self worth is crippled.  Even if you had a positive childhood, negative experiences later in life can impact your self worth.

A person’s self worth develops over time as a result of all of their experiences, positive and negative. How you feel about your innermost self, your soul self, is inordinately important to the quality of your life. Every single aspect of you—your energy, focus, attitude, productivity level, resilience, how well you sleep, your sex life, and your overall physical, emotional, and spiritual health–is impacted by how you feel about yourself.  Most people do not realize how profoundly their lives are affected by their internal sense of self, their self worth.

The amazing news is that anyone can change the way they feel about themselves, no matter what they have experienced during the course of their life. In my next blog, I will discuss the incredible power of neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to change at anytime during your life. Neuroplasticity enables you to create new pathways in your brain in order to change your thoughts and behavior over a period of time.

If you have been suffering from low self worth, no matter what the reason, know that you can change. It is never too late to transform your innermost self so that you are able to live with self acceptance, self trust, self love, and inner peace. 

I did it.  So can you.  

Please let me know what you think about this blog.  I am eager to hear from you.

Have a joy-filled Friday!

Anne Boudreau

 

 

 

Self Worth: Understand the Distinction Between Self Worth and Self Esteem

Self Worth and Self Esteem are not the Same 

If you asked a friend or colleague of yours whether they know the distinction between self worth and self esteem, what do you think they would say?   

Chances are they would not know the difference. 

When I began doing research for my recently completed book about self worth, I conducted many interviews. In a short period of time, I learned that nearly everyone with whom I spoke thought the terms were synonymous, or, interestingly enough, they believed self worth was about one’s financial standing. Clearly, this was not what I was expecting since I was devoting an entire book to the topic of self worth. Most everyone, however, mentioned that they thought self esteem was the term used to describe how a person feels about themselves.

Although both terms are related to how a person views themselves, they apply to opposite aspects of ourselves. There is a major difference between the terms, even though they are often used interchangeably.  A quick definition:  Self esteem is the confidence a person has about their competence, their belief about their achievements in the world.  Self worth is how you feel about your innermost self, the value you place on your life.  An easy way to remember the distinction is by thinking about self esteem as the outside you, the person you are in the world, your capabilities, whereas self worth is the inside you, your core self, or what I refer to as your SOUL SELF.  

The reason this distinction matters is that a person can possess high self esteem and feel proud of their successes, yet still feel that something is missing, that there is a missing element to their life. No matter how much they achieve, they continue to feel a lack of internal fulfillment. I am and have always been intuitive, which has enabled me to see deeply into a person and recognize when their self worth is low. Having low self worth myself for many years of my life gave me the gift of empathy and understanding. When one feels inadequate internally, they have a tendency to hide behind their exterior facade of arrogance or egomania. I do not believe this is intentional, as they may not be  aware that their inner self is thirsting for nurturing and love.

I had a boss who was the archetype of success–CEO of a global corporation, big family, wealth, power, and yet he was in a constant state of anxiety, besieged by inner discord and fear. He attained fame and notoriety for which he desperately yearned, and reveled in his material possessions as well as his posse—his entourage of devoted sycophants following him from office to office, meeting to meeting. He was obsessed with his power and made some seriously unwise business decisions. The force that drove him was his incessant need to prove himself, to achieve something bigger, better, brighter. He had no idea that his futile search to remedy his inner wounds by accruing external trophies would never heal him. He was simply uncomfortable in his own skin. There is someone in a position of immense power right now that reminds me of my old boss.

A person can have high self esteem and also suffer from low self worth. This is far more common than we realize, especially in today’s world. Even those who seemingly have it all, as we have observed with several high profile figures of late, will never feel fulfilled until they are able to fill the void of low self worth. Far too many people suffer from lack of self acceptance and self love, both of which are intrinsic tenets to self worth.

Why is self worth important?  We view the world through the lens of our self worth; the quality of our lives is vastly impacted by how we feel about our innermost self.  What we do know for certain is that anyone, at any age or stage of their life, can build healthy self worth, no matter what they’ve endured. 

Think about your own inner sense of self.  How worthy do you feel?  Would you like to feel better about yourself?  Self worth is a mindset anyone can develop as our magnificent brain allows us to learn new patterns of thought and behavior throughout the course of our lives.

This blog is the first of many to come that will provide inspiring and motivating thoughts and practices that will help you begin the path to building healthy self worth.  Positive self worth will change your life.

Take a peek at my website:  selfworthforlife.com and be on the lookout for my new book entitled:  Your Life Matters

Please send me your comments about this or any blogs as I am eager to hear your thoughts about this important topic.

Enjoy every single moment of your precious life!

Self Worth is the lens by which we view every aspect of our lives.

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