The What If Experience

Explore a new "What If..." question about life each week with some thoughts, some answers and some action steps. Share my journey of personal growth and living in possibility.
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Now displaying: October, 2017
Oct 29, 2017
I love words. I have a few alternative word definitions for you today.
"barkTHINS Snacking Chocolate," "There's a Culver's nearby," and "If I eat them all now, at least they're out of the house!" are all phrases that really mean "none of your clothes fit anymore"
"I'm just going to get dressed and walk for awhile." really means, "I know how to trick myself into running when I don't want to"
"I feel worthless" really means "my hormones are messing with my brain again"
And, "kid, you are bringin' out my crazy" really means, "I love and adore you so very much, but you're about to lose every stinkin' privilege you've ever known...until you're 30!"
Here's one that really hit me this week. It's a lyric in a Matthew West song, "Turns out safe is just another word for regret."
We do everything we can to be comfortable and safe. We arrange our days, our circumstances, even what we wear to be comfortable and safe. But, I'm willing to bet that the very best moments in your life, the most exhilarating experiences you've had, the times when you felt really alive and the things that opened your life up to new possibilities...I'm willing to bet those didn't flow from comfortable and safe.
We need comfortable and safe. We need it as a launchpad. We need it as a safety net. We need it as zone to heal, regroup and rest. But, comfortable and safe is a basecamp, not a permanent residence.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned my toolkit for overwhelm. I decided yesterday that I was going to make one for depression. But, not this week. This week, I'm making one for fear.
I'm thinking about it this morning, because of the #metoo trending hashtag. I've gotten into several conversations about abusive relationships this week. Whenever this topic comes up, there is always someone who says, "I just do not understand how a woman can stay in an abusive situation." It's a legitimate question. Sometimes it's asked with compassion. Usually, it's asked with an attitude of "these women are weak, crazy, or stupid. Or, all three."
Here's one really, really short and overly simplified answer to that question of why. They're choosing what they know over what they don't know. The fear of the unknown, of the choices they'll face, of the opinions of others, of the hard work of recovering themselves, of the judgement of society on the outside, of how they're going to care for themselves and their children...these fears of what they don't know are bigger than the uncomfortable, unhealthy and unsafe situation they already do know. It's emotionally safer to deal with the abusive situation than to face those fears.
Now, before you get all judgey on me. Let me ask you this. How much does fear drive your own actions? How much does it control what you do and don't do? How strong is the pull of the safe and the familiar in your own life?
What if I asked you to dress up to the nines...sequins, heels, makeup, hair or a tux, like get all fancy, just for fun...and then go to the grocery store for bread and milk. That's out of the norm and might feel uncomfortable. What if you've always wanted to do something crazy with your hair...but can't bring yourself to actually do it? What if you want to take your family to the beach this Christmas, but it's far easier not to deal with the outcry from your relatives. What if there's someone you'd like to get to know, but you're afraid they won't be interested? There are a thousand small ways fear can run your life.
Friends, the pull of the familiar. The comfortable. The known. Is really, really strong. Many of us, if asked, when we listen to the longing of our hearts, yearn for meaning, adventure, and excitement. But, a life like that doesn't happen in the safe zone. It doesn't happen without risk. It doesn't happen if we're arranging our lives to eliminate fear.
This is not just about the big stuff.
I chose adventure over fear this week when I asked an acquaintance for advice about a subject she knew better than I did. Big adventure? Nope, but randomly reaching out to someone I don't know well to talk about a touchy subject is not something I do often.
I chose adventure over fear this week when I told a group of women about something in my life that's typically not shared in public conversations. Big adventure? Nope. But, being vulnerable isn't easy.
I chose adventure over fear this week when I signed up for a conference where I won't know a soul, I'm going to feel like an outsider and an imposter. Big adventure? Nope. But, conferences without compatriots isn't in my comfort zone.
Choosing adventure over fear in small things flexes your courageous muscle. What if that conversation with my acquaintance leads to one of the best friendships of my life? Or, an insight into the topic that changes my life, or someone else's? What if being vulnerable in that group of women gave someone else permission and courage to share something that if they were then supported, could heal a deep emotional wound? What if I receive information at this conference that could free me or my son from perfectionism? What if I learn something that could change how I approach parenting him for the better? What if I meet someone that could make a big difference in my life? What if? The potential from these what if's were enough to make me step over that line of uncomfortable into possibility.
While I work on a toolkit this week, what if you pay attention to who usually wins the tug-of-war in your heart between fear and the familiar. Notice those internal conversations...often they'll be so fast and so one-sided that you might have a hard time even recognizing them. They might sound like, "what if...NO. NO WAY. YOU'RE CRAZY. DO YOU KNOW WHAT PEOPLE WILL THINK? OR, SAY? YOU'LL LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT. YOU ARE AN IDIOT..."
You may never even get to the idea before the voices in your head jump all over you. Noticing is the first step toward breaking that cycle and finding your brave. Don't let safe be another word for regret in your life.

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Oct 22, 2017

Friends, I'm drained. I see the posts all over every social media channel. I have my own #metoo stories. I meet with a group of women each week and we happen to be talking about a woman's purpose and place in the world this week and next and the #metoo movement couldn't be ignored as it relates, so we talked about it there. I had phone conversations about it this week. It eased itself into dinner conversation.

It's pervasive, it's exhausting, and I have mixed feelings about it altogether. Women already know sexual harassment, aggression, and abuse are experiences that every woman everywhere deals with on an ongoing basis. We all know. We all understand. Every woman has stories and wherever those stories fall on the spectrum of no-lingering-impact catcalls to life-changing-impact rape or abuse has absolutely no relevance to their legitimacy of those stories or that experience. They are all valid.


If a woman chooses to participate and post a #metoo on social media, I pray that she feels heard, acknowledged and supported. I pray that as men, seeing the overwhelming number of women in your feed affected, that you begin to understand that this affects all women. Not just a select few. Women you see as "healthy". Women you see as "normal." Your wives. Your daughters. Every woman you've ever met lives within the confines of this issue. Even the ones who choose not to participate in social media hashtags. Maybe, especially them. There are very valid reasons not to participate, but that does not in any way mean they aren't affected. You can just assume that every woman you've ever met is affected in some way.

Trending hashtags, however, don't make actual change happen. That takes time, effort and intentionality on a personal level for every one of us. Not just activists. Here's what I hope happens. I hope the hashtag movement sparks conversations. Conversations where a husband asks his wife how she's been affected. And then she has the courage to tell him and he listens without judgment, thoughtfully considers how it's impacted his marriage, responds in love and support, and then adjusts his attitudes or behavior in whatever ways necessary. I hope it sparks conversations among educators about what they can do on a personal level to support students and call out lack of respect they see among students. I hope it sparks conversations in youth groups, on soccer fields, on business lunches and in boardrooms. I hope that we begin to listen, learn, and see ways that we can make our circle of influence safer for all people.


Awareness means nothing if it's not followed up by action. Women can't do it by ourselves. We can talk about it until we're blue in the face, but we can't make the change happen. Men, you are going to have to take actions. And it does start with you. Not with stronger sentences for those convicted of rape. Should that happen? Yes, absolutely. But, it needs to start with all the men out there who think this behavior is inappropriate and morally wrong...and I know there are a lot of you who feel that way. Clean up your circle of influence. Don't allow toxic talk, call out inappropriate behavior. In the gym. In the locker room. In the conference room. In your home. In your heart. Don't perpetuate objectification of women and don't frequent stores, media, bars or products where you see it happening. Vote with your thoughts, your actions, and your wallet. Make your choices intentional.

Women. You're not exempt from creating change. And I'm not either. As I've struggled with my response to this whole thing, I realize that I need to do a better job parenting my son around this issue. It's not the driving issue in my world. I don't think about it daily. Yes, it's affected me in really profound ways over the course of my life. But, it doesn't define who I am. I realize, though, I should maybe have parented some things differently earlier.

Parenting A Boy In a #metoo Culture

What can we do as mothers with sons? Here's a non-exhaustive list of the things that come to mind immediately.

  • Teach them about the dynamics of consent. That no means no. That yes doesn't mean always and forever. That everyone has the right to change their mind at any time and revoke consent.
  • Teach them that they are not entitled. Period. I'm not talking about sexually only. I'm talking about life.
  • Teach them that they need to respect all people as a valuable creation. All people. Every single one.
  • Teach them that there are consequences from all of their actions, both big and small. And those consequences are far reaching.
  • Teach them that permissions are important, need to be asked for, waited for and respected.
  • Teach them that good character is an action, a muscle. One that needs to be constantly flexed.
  • Teach them that we have a responsibility to actively look out for others, those we know and those we don't.
  • Teach them that their role in a healthy relationship is to serve the other person well. Not to selfishly take whatever they can.
  • Teach them that any question they have can be expected to have a respectful, thoughtful answer from you. No matter how embarrassing you find it.
  • Teach them what sexuality is about. Take responsibility for teaching them.
  • Teach them what it means to be a man, in a healthy honoring way. Masculinity isn't the enemy and should be affirmed. Healthy manhood is honoring to women. We need to honor it in return.

Friends, this is a no-brainer list. It's prompted by the #metoo movement, but it's about living life as a healthy person. How many of you have heard that the goal in raising a child is that they become a healthy independent adult? It's not. The goal is that your kids become a healthy interdependant adult. We live in complex relationships and we need to raise children, boys and girls, who are healthy in the context of those relationships. Healthy in personal relationships, family relationships, social relationships and societal relationships.

It's a no-brainer list, but it's not easy and it's not going to happen by accident.

I challenge you to choose three things you can do this week to respond to the #metoo movement. If you're a woman and you've posted a #metoo post, great, you only have two more to go.

My Action Steps

Here's what I'm doing in my home.

I need to do a better job teaching my 12-year-old about boundaries, consent, and permissions. So, we're going to have a conversation about it with some specific changes in our household. I need to respect his space more and his person more explicitly. For example, we tickle fight and have since he was young. He needs the roughhousing in a mom-only household. But, I need to respect, "no" and "stop" more completely. We'll have that conversation this week.

With the lack of fathering in my home, I need to be more intentional about pointing out when I see things that men do that I want my son to emulate. "That's what it means to be a man." needs to be said more often.

Talk consistently about what good character in action looks like. How can he respond to any given situation with good character in an active, not passive, role? I need to make it clear that acting on his values is expected. Reward him when he does. I'm going to start using this as my after-school car question. "How'd school go?" to get it started and "How did you act on your good character today?" will be my questions of choice.

Ok friends, those are my three. And I posted a #metoo post, so in typical overachiever fashion, I'm ahead of the game. Write down your three things. Share them with a spouse or friend. Hold each other accountable.

How will you actively respond to the #metoo movement?

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Oct 15, 2017

I came close to a breakdown this morning. The obvious reason is ridiculous. My cleaning lady comes today. Who has a breakdown over someone coming to clean for them? I have someone help me out for an hour every other week. It keeps me sane. Usually. It makes sure that no matter what else happens in my schedule, my toilets get cleaned and my floors get vacuumed and my house gets dusted on a regular basis. This two hours a month is a complete luxury for me, which I am so very grateful for.


Rebecca coming makes sure that no matter what else happens in my schedule, my toilets get cleaned and my floors get vacuumed and my house gets dusted on a regular basis. This two hours a month is a complete luxury for me, which I am so very grateful for.

Except for this morning. She's only here for an hour. In order for her to do what I pay her to do, I have to have some things done in advance. For example, she can't vacuum the floor if we have stuff everywhere. I pay her to vacuum.  She can--and is happy to--move stuff, but she can't do as good a job and I want her vacuuming, not picking up.

My house is a disaster right now. I have a pile of stuff in the living room that's been there since the Destination Imagination competition in March. And our hallway is full of stuff my son left there when he came home from camp in June. Everywhere else is just as big a mess. It drives me crazy. I  worked upstairs in my parents' area last weekend because I didn't have time to clean up and I couldn't handle the visual chaos and constant reminder of what I wasn't getting done. I'm hoping I'm not the only one and someone out there can relate.

This week is Fall break and my son is home for a few days and we're not travelling. Perfect time to make some headway on cleaning up things like the hallway and the DI piles. Right after I get this podcast recorded, get my work caught up and make candy for a meeting tonight.

But, I forgot it was a Rebecca day. On top of my already crazy full schedule, I needed to get the place Rebecca-ready. I almost had a breakdown. The real problem right now is lack of margin. I'm operating way too close to the edge of handling everything. So, one thing--adding something into my full morning schedule--that wouldn't normally be a big deal instead makes me feel like losing it.

About Overwhelm

Overwhelm is a type of emotional paralysis where you feel as though you're unable to cope with or handle your circumstances. It may not be schedule driven like mine was this morning. It could be financial, relational, or physical.

Overwhelm is an epidemic in society today. The speed of change, amount of daily inputs we have to handle, the culture of overwork, chronic stress levels, cultural pressure to do it all, be it all and have it all, personal factors (like perfectionism), and social pressures (like an environment of comparison) all contribute to a vast number of people feeling overwhelmed.

Including me.

A year or two ago, I got tired of feeling that way, so I did what I tend to do when I get curious about something. I did some research. How are people talking about overwhelm? What can we do to combat it? Today, I had to pull out my results from the work I did then and use it. So, I thought I'd share a little bit of it with you.

Eliminating Overwhelm

There are two phases to feeling overwhelmed. One is an acute phase, an initial paralysis, a breakdown, a panicked. "I've had it, I've hit my breaking point" phase. The second is a chronic phase. This morning, I was in an acute phase. So, I pulled out my first aid tactics. I have twenty-five of them, so I'm not going to overwhelm you with all of them. Here are five that helped me today.

Do a Brain Dump.

Part of what caused my anxiety this morning was too many things in my head. So, I sat down and got it all down on paper. Today, that looked like a to-do list for me. It might look like a list of all the things you're worried about. It might be a list of all the projects you need to manage. All the steps needed to do whatever you're trying to do. All the things you're afraid you'll forget. Everything running around in your brain, get it all out onto paper. Just the act of acknowledging the thoughts seem to help them back off the pressure. You can remember them, organize and evaluate them now that they're in black and white. And you have mental space cleared out for dealing with life.

Do The Next Right Thing

The reality of my Thursdays is that they're my least stressful day. My most stressful days all happen Sunday -Wednesday, so Thursdays are usually a relief. But today, I had a handful of things that all had to happen in a three hour time span and the last minute clean up threw me into overwhelm. I needed to narrow my focus and just deal with the next right thing. Multi-tasking, no matter how good you think you are at it, isn't effective. I needed to do one thing, then move on to the next thing and only deal with the one that's next most important.

Do Something, Anything

Progress always reduces overwhelm. It feeds momentum which then helps you make progress and in the way of cyclical spirals in a beneficial way. So, the key to this first aid tactic is choosing something small. Choosing something small allows you to gain that momentum foothold faster. It doesn't really have to be related to what you're feeling overwhelmed about. You need an action starting point that will move you out of paralysis. For me, this morning, that was two quick texts to people I needed to get in touch with.

Use Tunes

Music is a mood manipulator. One of the things that really had to get done today was this podcast. But, I was having trouble focusing, getting started and staying calm enough to deal with it. One thing that helps me focus when I write is using white noise. So, on went the headphones. I had an immediate physical response when I heard the wave and rain sounds. It's as if my whole body breathed a sigh of relief as the repetitive, calming noises washed over me. You can use music to boost your energy, relax, or help you focus. If you're on Spotify, you can find a few playlists I use to manipulate my mood and energy at michelleberkey: a few zen chill lists, with and without lyrics, happy happy mood and stronger are a few you'll find there.

Radically Slash Your To-Do List

If your overwhelm is schedule related, slash your to-do list short term. Consider what would get done if you were bedridden-sick for the next week. Do only that. For me this morning, I wanted to re-do an art piece I wasn't happy with yesterday. That was squarely on the nice-but-not-necessary list. When I started to get overwhelmed, that got taken off the table for today. Doing my laundry, some follow up emails, and some work and ministry things that I need to get done (but not immediately) also got removed from my schedule for now.

In review, the five first aid tactics I used today were Brain Dump, the Next Right Thing, Do Something, Use Tunes, and Radically Slash Your List.

These five suggestions won't get to the bottom of your overwhelm. They're intended to be first aid for the acute paralysis that can occur. Put them in your pocket and pull them out when needed.

Action Steps

Because inspiration and education are great, but they only result in transformation when you add action - and that's your job - here are a few action steps you can take today.

Good: Digitally, file this information away where you can get to it easily when you need it. File the email, bookmark the post or favourite the podcast episode.

Better: Make yourself an index card of these five tactics. Write them in your planner or a journal. Physically writing them down will help solidify them in your mind and will give you something physical to pull out when needed. I made myself a flip book of all my tactics that I could drop in my bag or keep in my desk or car. I haven't needed it for a long time (that's an indication of growth right there), but I pulled it out this morning.

Best: Begin to work on the underlying root cause of your overwhelm so you don't have to deal with the acute paralysis.


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Oct 8, 2017
I've been procrastinating working on this episode for an hour and a half now. And I'm already past the deadline of when it should be completed. I've sent a long overdue email, I've backed a Kickstarter campaign. I've posted on Instagram. I've emptied the dishwasher. I've put a few coats of varnish on my most recent art piece. I've eaten breakfast. Or, lunch actually. That needed to be done. But, those other things? They definitely did not have to be done right now. This is major league resistance. The dishwasher, that's a sure giveaway. If I'm choosing to empty the dishwasher, I'm in major league avoidance mode.
I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but often if you have a really great experience...not like eating the perfect lemon custard kind of experience, but like the amazing conference experience I had a few weeks ago...after a really great experience, there's often a corresponding low. It seems like life can't just go back to normal, it needs to hit the skids to compensate for the high point.
The thing is, nothing has really gone wrong. On the outside. But, on the inside, I'm struggling. I've mentioned this before, I go through seasons of depression. For me, though, they aren't really seasons. I think I've had a few different types of depression in the past. I've had periods where it lasted several months to a half a year. At least one of those times I tested borderline on a medical assessment but chose to get through it without drug intervention. That would have been a season of depression.
What's affected my life to a greater degree has been something more like a standing appointment than a season. I'm certain it's related to hormone levels. I would regularly have three or four days of symptoms every month. I can literally feel it come on over the space of about an hour or so and leave in the same way. It's a physical sensation and a change in the way my brain works. Lately though, since I'm perimenopausal, I've been able to skip most of those appointments. But, in the last few weeks, I had an episode hit hard and last longer than usual.
I got curious about it the other day. I was probably procrastinating some other writing I was supposed to be doing (resistance is real, folks). I looked up the kinds of depression. Of course, what I found puts me outside of all the standard boxes. This is pretty typical for me. I never fit in the standard boxes. So, maybe, it's not really depression. Maybe it's something that mimics depression. I looked up what types of things mimic depression. None of them seemed close to fitting. So, I began to believe, since I don't fit into the typical boxes, that it's not really legitimate. I began to minimize and discount my own experience. Bad move.
Have you ever done that? Minimized your experience of something because it doesn't meet some perceived standard? If you have ever led with a disclaimer or apology in a conversation, you've done this. Well, I'm not a real writer,... or, I'm not a real runner, but.... or, I'm not really an artist...  those are three that I know I've said before. How about you?
Discounting my experience of depression sounds like this in my head. "I almost never have suicidal thoughts. It doesn't last as long as real depression would. And, it's not that severe." It sounds absurd. Whether I fit neatly in a box or not, my experience is real. It's valid. And it impacts my life. If you're discounting or minimizing who you are, something you do or something that happens in your life, stop.
I've been practicing for about three years now saying that I'm an artist. It sounded ridiculous at first. I wasn't good enough to be an artist. I still struggle, but it comes easier now. I run, so I'm a runner. I write, so I'm a writer. I make art, so I'm an artist. Whether I run fast, write well or make good art is a whole different question. My experience of those three things doesn't have to be of any particular quality in order to be valuable. I don't have to run fast or train for a marathon in order for my body to benefit from running. I don't have to have three books published in order for my writing to be transformational - for myself or anyone else who happens to read it.
Whatever you're minimizing in yourself doesn't need to meet an external standard. If you're changed by it, affected by it, experience it, then I am telling you that it's legitimate and you need to own it.
Here's the other lesson I learned this week. It's something I learned through my depression but applies to life in general. I've always assumed that my experience was "depression lite;" the stripped down, not as complex, less expensive version. I've really always thought it wasn't serious. But, in the research I was doing, I ran across an assessment and took it. I scored at "Moderately Severe." That's fairly sobering. it shifted my whole perspective about how seriously I should take it and how diligent I should be in dealing with it.
Here's my lesson for you. Stop making assumptions in life. Ask questions instead. Don't assume you know what someone means or why they feel a certain way when someone states an opinion. I'm willing to bet that that right there could stop 85% of the angry exchanges on Facebook. Don't assume someone knows they hurt your feelings. A brave, brave friend of mine recently told me I'd hurt her feelings with something I said. I'm so glad she did. Because, after apologizing, I could explain that I'd communicated very poorly. In fact, I'd meant to communicate the opposite of the message I'd given. Don't assume your symptoms are nothing. Don't assume your friends know you need help or encouragement. Don't assume that you can't do something.
Don't assume. Ask.
If you struggle with depression, First, see a counselor or medical professional. I'm not a doctor and I didn't even sleep at Holiday Inn Express last night. I do know that for me, all the non-medical interventions like eating better, getting healthy sleep, exercise, yoga, meditation, volunteering for others and experiencing community do help. But, in my case, the problem is doing them. They are the absolute last things I want to do. Sometimes you need to choose to do what you can anyway and give yourself a pass on what you can't. Do any of those items in small steps if you can't take big ones.
If you know someone struggling with depression. Just be kind. It's not typically something they can just get over. It's not that they're having a bad day, or week or month. Do things that simply remind them that you care. And do them over and over and over again, no matter how much you think you're being redundant, no matter how your friend or loved one is able to respond to you and no matter at what point you think they should be over it. 

Take Action

Because inspiration and education are great, but they only result in transformation when you add action - and that's your job - here are a few action steps you can take on these lessons today:

Good:  Ask yourself what experiences you're having that you need to stop minimizing.

Better:  Stop minimizing those things. And stop making assumptions. Train an insatiable curiosity instead.

Best:  Get together with a friend, talk about these ideas and hold each other accountable to make real changes in your life.


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Oct 1, 2017

Who knew donuts could be a lesson in personal growth? Of course, if you eat too many, they certainly can foster personal growth in ways you don't want! That kind of personal growth may or may not be happening with me right now. It's time to get back on the no sugar bandwagon again. But, I'm already off subject. So, let's bring it back on track.

I was at a conference last week in downtown Nashville. Story 2017. If you're a storyteller in any form: corporate, writer, artist, marketing...go sign up right now for next year because you don't want to miss it.

I was standing in line with a friend, getting her some free Muletown Coffee (we serve it at The Bridge Church, too, good stuff, y'all) when we saw boxes upon boxes of donuts up near the entrance. Donuts are my son's drug of choice, but I can take or leave them. Unless we're talking about Charlie's Donut Truck in Alys Beach, FL and then I fall squarely on the "take them" side. This particular morning, they were Dunkin' Donuts, bright yellow frosted and filled. In my world, that's three strikes against them. But, I'd skipped breakfast that morning because I had to get up at o'dark thirty to get to downtown in rush hour traffic. So, bright yellow Dunkin Donuts looked more appealing than normal and we decided to check them out.


These mounds and mounds of donuts for all the conference attendees were provided by Pinterest. And as we were handed a donut, we were told why. "Take your donut - your blank-faced emoji donut - and head inside where there are fixin's that you can use to create an emoji face on your donut. Post a picture, hashtag the conference and get a chance to win a pretty sweet $400 leather bag."

Now, remember, this is a conference of creatives. You could see the sleepy eyes light up as people were given the instructions. This took a Dunkin Donut all the way from "better than nothing" straight on up to "bomb-diggity!" And as we walked into the soaring lobby of the Schermerhorn, we were greeted by a huge spread of fun pieces to decorate these donuts with. Eyes, lips, accessories, chocolate to custom cut, frosting...super fun, right?

Well, it should have been. What should have happened is that I looked around in creative glee and began to play. It should have been play. Light-hearted and fun.


Instead, I tripped and fell headlong into comparison and competition. All of these other people messing with the abundance of emoji parts were surely way more creative, way cooler and way higher on the (newly discovered) donut emoji creation scale. It suddenly became more about my own insecurity and need to perform than about play and fun.

I will say this. At least I recognized it this time and I refused to let comparison be the king of that donut table. I made a quick emoji. I kept it simple. I worked at not worrying about how creative it was or how it stacked up against all the other donuts. I chose from the first pieces I saw, added some frosting bangs and I was done.

As I stepped back from the table and watched the others, I was glad that I'd not let comparison reign. This is progress for me. I realized what was happening in my head and intentionally didn't walk down that path. But, it did still ruin the fun. I'm looking forward to the day when I can approach a project table with others in a spirit of fun exploration instead of comparison.

It was a great idea, Pinterest. Kudos on the marketing joy. And thank you for the personal reminder of how easily comparison can ruin a beautiful morning. Theodore Roosevelt is often credited with saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” and I had a very vivid experience of his quote that morning.

I'm not sure if there was anything I could have done to salvage the fun of that experience, but I had so many other fun things happening that I wasn't too concerned. I realized that I typically walk into events like that with a comparison mindset. Do I belong? How do I measure up against everyone else there? This time, I didn't. I didn't really think about it until late the first day, but this time, I had walked in with a warm expectation of what I was about to receive. I was at peace, I was comfortable and I wasn't comparing at all. For someone always unsure of her place in the world, this was a profoundly different experience.

How To Eliminate Comparison

If you struggle with comparison and you do a search on how to stop, you'll find plenty of lists, plenty of actions to take.

  • be aware of the tendency to compare
  • practice gratitude
  • learn to accept imperfection
  • change your perspective
  • take a walk
  • redirect to compare with yourself and not with others

But, no one seems to address the root issue. Comparison is the fruit of insecurity. Do the hard work of dealing with the insecurity and the comparisons will naturally fade away.

Action Steps

Good:  Start to realize when you're making comparisons to others and how it impacts your thoughts and your life. Start to listen to your inner voices and get enough perspective on them that you can start to see how they shape your life.

Better:  Work through a list of action steps. Here are some links to get you started: Becoming Minimalist, Zen Habits, Tiny Buddha, and another article on Tiny Buddha.

Best:  Tackle your insecurities.  Begin to ask yourself what your self image is based on. Begin to dig into where you find your identity. As your insecurities weaken, you'll begin to leave the comparisons behind.

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