Sunday, August 15, 2010


A few weeks ago in a comment she left me, Thelma asked what I would offer as advice to my clients struggling with comparing themselves to others, etc. And so this post is in reply to that question.

First of all, I think that we get down on ourselves and start the comparisons to others when we're going through rocky times; when times are particularly difficult and we're just depressed in general. I know that I pretty much didn't care about other people or what they had or were doing when my own life felt relatively happy, safe and secure. So the initial plan of attack might be to bolster up one's mood and overall feelings.

When I get down and out, I become way less active to the point of even hiding out and doing nothing - not even reading, knitting, housework, watching t.v. or exercising. I rotely make dinner, shop for food and care for the boys but I certainly exert very little effort on myself. Imagine a person just lying in bed for the day and you get the idea. My plan of attack then has to incorporate "Action" of any kind - something, anything, it doesn't have to be major or earth shattering. Just getting out of bed and doing some of the dishes. Or forcing myself to take a shower even if I am not going out. To get moving even though my mind hasn't yet caught up with the action being undertaken.

Sitting around and moping usually sends me into a downward spiral quickly. Energy feeds on itself and the more down and out I become. It is necessary to try and incorporate some physical exercise into the day to get the body and brain functioning. It can merely be a walk around the block but some kind of physical activity.

When we're feeling low it can be related to the sense that life seems out of our control. And I have always been a believer when those times hit that we must create order and try and bring some measure of control into our lives. Even in the midst of chaos there are aspects of our life we can control. For instance, we can focus on maintaining a clean and pleasant living environment - we can undertake to organize our bookshelves, we can clear out a drawer. Whatever the action is we can come up with something that will empower us to feel as though we have some sense of power over our lives, that it is not all left to chance.

Jude crafting a gorgeous and complicated cross stitch Christmas tree skirt as a gift inspired me with this one. She has been working on the craft since March. Setting long-term goals or having projects to work on that lead into the future is another way to deal with the sense of helplessness. "I will start reading Moby Dick and stick with it once and for all..."

I know a lot of people recommend reaching out to others by volunteering and the like but I think that at times like these, the volunteering needs to go toward you. That it is okay to be selfish and dote on yourself a bit. And especially to not to come down hard on the fact that you may be engaged in a level of behavior that you wish you hadn't stooped to. It's okay to be there because that is where you are and you wouldn't be there otherwise.

Laughter - this one gets recommended a lot too and to get caught up in a comedy or sitcom takes some of the pressure off from your own worries and problems. And we all need a break from ourselves and our lives.

And finally, instead of focusing on the past and worrying about the future, just trying to focus on the here and now - getting through the day as best one can.

Action Plan

1. Do something, anything other that sit on the chair or stay in bed.
2. Get moving and engage in some sort of moderate exercise.
3. Exert a sense of control over some aspect of life but don't make it an impossible or overwhelming task, e.g., start cleaning out one closet a week vs. trying to do all closets in one day and ending up more discouraged than before.
4. Engage in a pleasurable long-term goal/project. By taking little steps we can see progress toward the future.
5. Be kind and gentle to yourself.
6. Incorporate laughter and lightness into life.
7. Focus on the here and now instead of obsessing about the past and the future.


  1. Some days, it is very difficult for me to get out of bed.

  2. Jude - Just do the best you can that day. It can be hard but the worst of it is when we get so down on ourselves. So I hope you give yourself a break and hang in there.

    Thelma - Thank you for inspiring this post.