Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
We all have that little voice inside that tells us we’re not worth shit. That little negative voice tells us we’re inadequate. It shows us our shortcomings continually. As if it wants us to fail. Because it does.
You also have a positive voice inside you. It’s just quiet because you’ve been giving prime real estate to your negative side. Why would you do this to yourself?
Because it’s easy.
Changing is hard. It takes effort. And depression can certainly make it so that you don’t have motivation to do anything. Getting out of bed is hard. Because that negative voice keeps you down. And it’s just easier to wallow than change.
Forget about achievements. Forget about winning. Winning means nothing if you don’t learn something from it. It means fuck all if you haven’t grown from the winning you’ve done. And maybe you’re over-valuing what you lack and not valuing what you actually have.
As children, we have little basis on how to live our lives. So, we compare ourselves to others. That’s a natural way to learn. But some of us never grow out of that stage. Because it’s easy to just keep moving laterally. But look at it this way: it’s actually way harder to be self-deprecating.
Being upset, worried, stressed and anxious about your own shortcomings takes energy. Precious energy you could be using to grow as a person. It’s time to stand up to that negative voice. Visualize yourself as larger than it. Watch it shrink as you tell it you’re better than that. You know what you want. And you can get it with the support of that positive voice. You just have to listen. Because you can’t fix something you don’t know is broken.
Have you ever finished a project and felt empty? That’s because you were only focused on the outcome and not the journey. You have to listen to that positive voice, because it’ll give you hints. But you can also work with the negative voice.
Peterson describes an exercise that may work for many. Each morning, ask the negative voice what it wants. Sincerely. No ulterior motives. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Once the voice tells you what it wants, negotiate with it. Make a compromise. Turn the negative ask into a positive outcome. Then the positive voice will be louder.
Ask that positive voice to do something for you. And if it does that nice thing, you’ll reward it with something you like. But you must follow through on that promise. That reward is the positive feedback loop you’re looking for.
Your positive voice will soon allow you to see what your actual path could be. You need to see where you’re going in order to get there. Become a more sophisticated person by organizing your morality and values.
Last year, I spent way too much time on Reddit. I lurked in AskReddit threads, reading through such posts as, “What’s the smallest thing that pisses you off to no end?” and “What’s your crazy neighbor story?”
I began to bond with these strangers over mutual suffering, frustration and anger. That lead to a period of extreme bitterness where everything and everyone annoyed the fuck out of me. I was angry all the time. From the moment I rose to the moment I went back to sleep at night. That’s no way to live. My values and morals were structured around the annoying things people do.
What do you think happened? No one wanted to hang out with me, because I had nothing good to say. There’s no point in living that way. Tragedy and irrationality need to be balanced with goodness and growth. Otherwise, you rot.
Just remember, it’s not about being hard on yourself, it’s about your productivity.
Stay tuned. I just started Chapter 5, so I’ll be back soon!
Peterson, J.B.. (2018). 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. Canada: Penguin Random House.