Make sure everybody in your life boat is rowing and not drilling holes when you’re not looking.” — Author Unknown
To thrive means to flourish prosperously. Are you able to thrive? What’s holding you back?
So often, I talk with my friends and my clients about their personal relationships. Some of those relationships with friends or co-workers make them feel inadequate, as if they simply don’t measure up. These intelligent, successful, educated, and well-adjusted people let their “inner chihuahuas” of self-doubt or insecurity yap at them, making them feel less than they are.
Sometimes, we talk about how they choose to remain in or be influenced by these “toxic” relationships when they know it would be healthier to move on and close off that negative part of their lives. Are there those in your life who are minimizing your victories and accomplishments? Is your friend’s or colleague’s sophomoric one-upmanship behavior taking a toll on your well-being? Do you feel as if you give and give without any return?
How do you break out of this cycle of negative self-talk and protect yourself from these possibly draining relationships? How do you thrive?
Focus Within First
Find the root cause of the negativity in your life. Many times, we allow negativity to enter our lives because it isn’t unusual. We allow negativity in because it’s always been a part of us.
It’s time to separate the past from the present. It’s time to thrive in the now.
Emotions are difficult to interpret and pinpoint. If something in the present is activating an old, nagging memory, it can become even more difficult to untangle your emotions. Instead of decoding all of your emotions from the past, start first with today’s emotions.
Focus on the truth of what you’re feeling and the logic behind it. For example, if you’re feeling inadequate, ask yourself if you have done anything to justify those feelings. You may find your feelings come from the lack of a particular skill or knowledge you don’t have at this point in time. Or perhaps you find that there isn’t a reason for the way you feel other than an interaction with a colleague or friend.
Stop Making Comparisons
I generally find that comparison is the fast track to unhappiness.” — Jack Canfield, author Chicken Soup for the Soul
Do you want to thrive? Do you want a quick detox fix for added anxiety, stress and feeling bad about yourself? Stop comparing yourself to others.
It’s tempting, I know, to compare yourself and your journey to what someone else has. Things such as a nice car, the latest tech toys, a nice house, a family, children, a jet-setting lifestyle, a large Instagram following—the lists don’t stop.
Keep in mind what you are not seeing behind the scenes. A pretty Instagram profile and beautiful house does not mean that a person doesn’t have problems like everyone else. It doesn’t guarantee happiness.
Instead of focusing on the things in life, focus on what’s truly important to you—it all comes from within. Only you can define it for yourself—self-fulfillment, your goals, your attitude, quality relationships, values, expectations for success and living a meaningful life.
Set Boundaries and Stand Your Ground
Whether it’s the friend who always has to do it bigger and better than everyone else or the co-worker who makes sure everyone knows about their latest successful contribution at work, extremely competitive environments can suck your energy. Negative energy from competition can leave you feeling inadequate, irritated, and examining your own self-worth.
It’s time for a different approach to thrive. Realize first that the other person’s behavior isn’t about you. This is about their inner insecurities. Maybe they feel driven by comparisons to make sure they are measuring up and not falling behind. Maybe competition is what drives them to feel a sense of accomplishment. Whatever it is, it isn’t about you.
Quality, authenticate friendships are important parts of our lives. But there comes a point when you realize a friend is a bad influence or makes you feel poorly about yourself. Everyone has their own tipping point and limit, so listen to your inner voice. If your friendship is worth saving, discuss your concerns with them. If your heart is telling you it’s time to end it for your own health and well-being, listen, trust yourself.
Often, instead of ending a relationship, you can first focus on controlling your own emotions and reactions to their behavior. If that doesn’t alleviate the problem, it might be time to let go.
Set the boundary that works for you and then stick to it.
Thriving in the workplace can be difficult. In the workplace, healthy competition incorporates a commitment toward a common goal and mutual respect. Co-workers with fragile self-esteem sometimes struggle with being part of team and playing fairly. Sharing information, duties, and credit can be challenging for them.
Try to determine why they are competitive. What are their needs and goals? If you can find common goals and common ground, you may be able to get them to work with you, rather than against you. Emphasis your commonalities and the benefits of cooperation, “We both want what’s best for the organization.” Propose ways you can work together, “This is a huge project, let’s break out what needs to be accomplished so we don’t duplicate efforts. Are there any particular areas you’d like to take on?”
Remember, this will only be successful if the person can be trusted to do their fair share and doesn’t attempt to take all the credit. If they do well, applaud their efforts, thank them, this may be all they need to feel more secure.
Now if this person becomes saboteur or refuses to come on board, it requires a stronger approach. Keep track of your contributions, keep your guard up, and inform your boss and minimize your contact with the over-the-top-competitor as best as you can. Sadly, these people never get out of “the win at all costs” mindset and end up only isolating and hurting their careers. Again, it’s about their insecurities, not about you.
Focus on removing your emotions from the equation. Give yourself emotional space as well. You need to be able to approach the situation calmly.
Be Who You Are
When you know who you are and what is important to you, difficult people become easier to manage. The negativity in the world becomes easier to handle. Believe in yourself, your values, and your talents. Remember the choice and control you have to be positive is all yours.
Thrive by being who you are and surround yourself with those who appreciate you just the way you are.