You Are an Original

IMG_0407 - Version 2A number of years ago, my sheltie MacKinzey faced what we humans encounter daily: comparisons. Kinzey and I were with friends for a lakeside picnic and one Labrador retriever in our group began diving in the lake to retrieve sticks thrown by her owners. “Ready, girl? Go fetch!” Everyone cheered and clapped as the Lab paddled and snatched mini logs with such graceful ease.

On the other paw, Kinzey, with his severe arthritis and hip dysplasia, slowly sauntered on leash next to me. When I saw the water-splashing Lab and heard the applause around us, I tried to at least get Kinzey to dip one paw in the water. Nothing doing. He froze. He resisted. He sat down . . . on the muddy shore. Sigh.

But both Kinzey and I perked up when my friend Kathy patted my sheltie boy on the head and reassured him, “It’s okay, Kinz, chasing sticks in the water is not your greatest skill set.” I still fondly remember that wise counsel. Not everything can be our greatest skill set, even if we are remarkably talented and/or high achievers. Each of us is an original.

The intro to a new year tends to shift focus on honing our skill sets and succeeding at self-improvement. Just like that Labrador retriever at the lake, many of us attune our ears at the applause of others. “You did something with your hair.” “You’ve lost weight.” “Look at your toned biceps.” “Your grades are terrific.” “The boss bragged on you at the meeting.” Taking care of ourselves and doing our best is important, but we also need to be realistic that not everything we attempt is our greatest skill set.

Do you confidently know your greatest strengths? Do you know where you need a nudge or two of improvement without diving into the deep end of the lake? Do you, like Kinzey, know your limits and when to respect the kudos that others receive?

Let’s encourage each other this year in celebrating what we truly love to do and do well at. And, let’s applaud and appreciate the varied skill sets that we all possess. “Ready, girl? Go fetch!”

 “. . . we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:26 (The Message)

Brave and Resilient Tip #92: We are originals. Not everything we attempt is our greatest skill set.  

Let’s Talk

Comparing Yourself to Others 

Q. Why do I keep comparing myself to others?

A. Let’s Talk! We are always editing, don’t you think?! Comparisons whirl in our thinking about “how we measure up” starting as early as infants and toddlers. Watch them grab toys from one another!!!! “MINE” is a huge word for young . . . and old . . . alike.

Most of us have a natural and automatic sensitivity to what we perceive we lack. That’s why Thanksgiving is so important for our hearts and minds. Giving thanks is the key to being content with whatever lack we feel we might have. As we give thanks, we see in our mind’s eye the many others who have even MORE maladies than we do, if we have eyes to see. The perspective spills out like the straw horn of plenty on the table as we give thanks. Counting our blessings soothes us and even corrects our vision like few things do. That’s when we “get it” and experience a true “ah-ha” moment.

A second remedy for the ailment of comparisons is to pray earnestly for those suffering around us. It takes our minds off “us” – that pesky joy-stealer called self. What are you thinking about right now? Others who need your prayers and your blessings, or, your own needs? Isn’t it glorious that we can choose to change our thoughts? I am thankful we can!

 For Deeper Reflection

 Philippians 4:4–7 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 Timothy 2: 1 “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men . . . . ”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.