Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about a topic that might came up during the holidays: Lagging behind everyone else. This can lead to depression, slowing things even more down and generally nothing good.
So let us talk about it.
This is a scene - I think - many are familiar with: Everyone around you is telling about their latest life achievements: Be it buying an house or car or getting engaged or a new job or pregnant or the like. If not in real life - then in movies…
And you?… You managed… to do the dishes regularly? … To be fair - depending on your state and the severeness of your PTSD symptoms - this can be a low, realistic, high or unreachable goal. It is only human to not feel proud in this moment.
Doesn’t matter if the others meant to brag or not or whatever. It is hard to not compare oneself with the others. Even if we know better than to do that. The heart gets heavy and we are often reminded, that we are behind in our plans.
We wanted to be so much farther ahead in our lives. Plans are still plans who were supposed to be done and dusted since quite a while. And the others seem to be SO far ahead - while they once were just where you were.
Sometimes it seems like the others are running past you and you just seem not to get into gear. Nothing anyone likes to really talk about - it is rather embarrassing and quite a lot of shame involved. So let us break the ice.
First we talk about the lopsided comparison, then falling behind according to whom and then the best way to compare yourself.
As I just hinted a moment ago: The comparison is lopsided. First off, it is generally unwise to compare yourself with other people. You never get even remotely a full picture of their life. Think of the image other people have of your life.
Even your deeply trusted friends who have a very good picture will still only see a fraction of it. It is basically impossible to fully see another life. You see glimpses and those are hardly a good way to compare lives.
Especially with social media it is easy to fall for the happy pictures and assume it is like that most of the time - despite the other majority most likely not being so. It is not like people easily show their bad times or their flaws publicly.
That would show their vulnerability to the world - which is not a wise thing to do in general. So we are surrounded by apparently happy people. We can fake it ourselves. But we know how our live truly looks like. It is hard to fake it to yourself.
Falling behind - According to whom?
Often the feeling of falling behind comes from outside perspectives about when what is supposed to happen. Or when others want things to happen. But those things are more guidelines and trying to follow them tightly often leads only to more stress and exhaustion.
It is important to ask: Why am I doing this? This must be done according to whom? Why do I need to do this? We live in a society, which means interacting with it. But it can also lead us being controlled by the will and opinions of others.
It’s your life, your time line, your choices. You are the one that has to live with the consequences of your choices. And since that is the case, it is you who decides those choices. It is one of the most important human rights. To be able to choose.
The best way to compare yourself
So since we can’t really judge other peoples lives by what we see, how about we instead focus on comparing the life we truly know about? Our own. The only thing you can truly compare yourself is your past self - as it has the biggest similarities to you at the moment.
Even if you changed drastically in the recent years - or your life. It is difficult to feel change if you are going with the flow. Old notes or texts can give an insight about how much has changed. But the comparison doesn’t just have to refer to your past self.
How do you want your future to look like? Where do you want to go from here? Given the complications and how hard PTSD makes your life - it might be important to take it step by step and day by day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan ahead.
Not set in stone of course or as a strict time plan, but more a goal to move towards. For me it was first to suffer less pain and then to be able to do more. Nothing big, just something of a way pointer that showed me roughly in which direction to head.
If you are in a better position, then what do you want to change about yourself? What is a goal that could wait for you on the horizon? Best is of course a milestone one can measure, as otherwise you might have a situation of moving goalposts.
Nonetheless it might be just good to have one - to have a direction to head for. A goal that is worth fighting for and leads you where you want to end up eventually.
That was it for todays episode, I hope you found it helpful. Hope you are safe and well. And as always, if you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/podcast/, information regarding therapy you can find under johannadraconis.com/therapy/ and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.