Suppose you love mountain climbing and one day you set out to summit a peak you’ve been admiring for years. But when you get close to the mountain’s base you discover it’s completely surrounded by a swamp. This is a big surprise. No one told you about it. Now you’ll have to trudge through this icky mess before you can even start your climb.
You don’t like this situation, but you decide to suck it up and wade through the swamp because getting to the top of this mountain really matters to you.
All of us have things that are important to us: families, careers, causes. However, we inevitably have times when we face negative emotions related to these things: fear for our loved ones, uncertainties about our careers, and anger towards those who don’t support our causes.
But if these things really matter to us we persevere. We understand that sometimes we have to wade through the swamp of negative emotions to get to the mountain top.
Don’t let unpleasant emotions stop you. They’re part and parcel of living a full life.
Our lives are defined by the things we learn in our pasts. Many are helpful: “Don’t touch that hot stove” or “Tell the truth.” But some of the beliefs we internalize are quite harmful: “You’re damaged goods” or “You’re not good/smart/pretty enough to do that.”
Our brain is constantly pumping out thoughts, like our heart is pumping out blood. But these thoughts are not all of equal value. Work to see the difference.
Dr. William Osler, one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Medical School, may have said it best: “Shut out all of your past except that which will help you weather your tomorrows.”
I’ve written before about “comparisons.” They can be helpful or quite harmful.
One of my favorite writers/bloggers is Seth Godin, who recently had an excellent post on this subject. Godin said: “Without a doubt, there’s someone taller than you, faster than you, cuter than you. We don’t have to look very far to find someone who is better paid, more respected and getting more than his fair share of credit.
So what? Just because a thing can be noticed, or compared, or fretted over doesn’t mean it’s important, or even relevant.
Better, I think, to decide what’s important, what needs to change, what’s worth accomplishing. And then ignore all comparisons that don’t relate. The most important comparison, in fact, is comparing your work to that of which you are capable.
Sure, compare. But compare the things that matter to the journey you’re on. The rest is noise.”