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Progress Requires Awareness

comparison negative thoughts Dec 09, 2023
Choose awareness but not self-judgement

But not self-judgment.

This thought is a sneaky one, and it can show up anywhere….

I don’t know what is going on with this patient….but I should have figured this out by now

Why can’t I get my kids to stop bickering?!? I should have figured this out by now!

I just can’t get my act together and start exercising…I should have figured this out by now!

See all of the places this thought can creep in? 

And what happens if we let this thought stay? If we frequently have this thought, it creates a slew of negative emotions. Inadequacy. Disgust. Disdain. Regret. And negative emotions can serve their purpose; we’ll always have times when we feel anger, disgust, shame, etc. That’s part of being a human.

The goal is not to eradicate negative emotions.

But is it really necessary for us to drag around constant self-judgment and criticism by should-ing on ourselves? When we compare how we feel inside to how fabulous other people appear on the outside(she runs every day, she must feel motivated every day! What’s wrong with me?), it’s a set-up; one that keeps us miserable, overwhelmed and discontent.

And although we may harbor a belief that this comparison is motivating and will inspire us, I’d like you to pause and think about what happens, really, when you see someone who seems to have it all figured out. Do you feel inspired? Sometimes, maybe. But a lot of the time, especially after the competitive ringers we go through as high-achievers, a lot of the time we feel worse. A lot worse.

So whether you are comparing yourself to others, or to what you think you “should” have achieved by this point in your life, “I should have figured it out by now,” is not a helpful thought. It may be a common thought, or a default thought. But helpful? Nope.

So what’s a helpful alternative?

I don’t know how to do this yet,

We don’t have a diagnosis right now, but here’s the next step,

It’s ok that I haven’t yet learned this, I am here now

Any of these thoughts is far more helpful, more empowering, more supportive of you being kind to yourself, and acknowledging that as a human, none of us have this life stuff all figured out. We can never possibly know everything there is to know in medicine. We will not always feel motivated, but we can choose to look more carefully at obstacles and get help to overcome them. We are 100% capable of figuring out a path forward, and we help ourselves by acknowledging that it’s normal not to know everything.

When we practice self-kindness, we can recognize that when the thought pops up “I should have this figured out by now,” it’s ok to tell ourselves “thank you inner critic, but that’s not helpful.” We notice, we acknowledge an old pattern, and then practice a new thought. And over time, our new thoughts blossom. And with these new thoughts, comes more helpful emotional states: self-trust, acceptance, curiosity.

Sounds better, doesn’t it?


Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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