One of the many slogans that is on repeat emoting from my lips to my children is:
"Don't worry about what your sister/brother is doing. Just focus on what you are doing."
I say this a lot to my kids. It's easy for kids to look at their sibling and think, "hey!? why not ME?!"
And yet....don't we all think this way sometime or another?
Isn't this the condition of the human race?
Think about it:
This way of thinking goes back to the Garden. That Garden mentioned in Old Testament of the Bible. Genesis 3. When the first man and woman ate from that tree that was forbidden. When the first man blamed eating that fruit on the woman. When the first woman blamed eating the fruit on the serpent. It's essentially in our DNA and existence to crave; to what what the person right next to us has; or is apart of.
When I first got my drivers licence, I had a huge fear of driving on two-way highways. I grew up in a slightly rural city in Washington State and there were plenty of these types of highways. Mix in the ingredients of large amount of annual rainfall, short daylight hours which turn into dark nights that involved driving to high school recreational sports which I was involved in and a shaky 1981 Chevy Blazer = an intensely terrified novice 16 year old driver.
One night I started to share with my dad my fears about driving to a particular event for school on a busy two-lane highway that night. I remember sharing with him how scary it was for me driving at night with cars driving opposite of me. How I felt like I'm going to crash into them when I'm blinded by their front lights.
My dad responded with:
"Violet. There's a reason that the outside lines on a highway are painted a bright white. So when you're driving in the dark you can focus on how you are driving. When you watch the opposite driver, it's easy to swerve into their lane. Just follow and keep your eyes on the outside line. When you pay attention to what you are doing, you'll stay focused driving straight."
I've thought of this often when I drive on two-lane highways and I've also thought of how it's relevant to life.
When we start to focus on those around us and what they are doing, it's so easy to get distracted.
It's easy to have these thoughts....
"Why is [that person] so talented?"
"Why is [that person] so successful? I want that!"
"I've been working just as hard as [that person] !"
"It's not fair."
It all really goes back to focusing on where YOU are going. NOT others. Silencing the noise and following the outside line. Following what YOUR calling is and not what other's are accomplishing.
It's apart of something called Resistance.
It's what Steven Pressfield has termed as:
"....a repelling force. It's negative. It's aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work."
This Resistance to look at the passing driver been a constant battle for me in the past.
It sometimes likes to show its ugly face.
That's when I like to punch it out. TKO. To the ground.
That passing driver could be someone who is in your field of work who is more successful.
That passing driver could be that friend who doesn't quite think you've got IT.
That passing driver could be that acquaintance who is more beautiful/talented/gifted/graceful/insert anything here.
That passing driver could be that voice in your head put there from a parent growing up that says:
"why can't you be more [insert devaluing synonym HERE]"
That passing driver can't be the focus. It will only undermine your sole purpose or driving force .
It's only distraction to what you should be doing. Be it your job, your talent, your gifting in your craft.
What's helped me has been to commit to quiet the noise around me. When I start to watch or listen those passing drivers I notice I am less driven. Less attuned to what I should be accomplishing.
For you it may be to shut off social media. It has helped for me. It's helped me to quiet the surrounding crowd that so easily distracts my thoughts and perceptions of life. Comparison. It's that awful, relentless beast.
It may be surrounding yourself with those who speak truth in your life. Here's the kicker when you apply this: that truth you are listening constantly; eventually starts to become your truth and your thoughts. It starts to be your words and actions.
Find your own voice. Don't be a copy of someone else. It's completely freeing and honest to be who you are. This view alone has changed my entire perspective on creativity.
Finally, have joy and encouragement for others. This has been key in my life.
I find when I have nothing but encouragement for others and what they are apart of;
this beautiful thing happens:
I'm happier. I don't compare. I pay attention to what I'm blessed with.
I fully and entirely accept where I'm at.
How do you focus on the outside line?
How do you shut out the passing drivers?