We see something or experience something, then we compare it to our current reality, then we think “Why can’t I have….”, and then a dark cloud follows us around until we snap out of it, only to return again as the trigger comes along.
When I first started working as an assistant principal, I had a pretty kick-ass boss to work under. He was a bit of a micro-manager at first, but he was a fabulous guide and teacher, especially when I was new to the role.
So when I got transferred to work for my not-so-great-boss, she had some big shoes to fill. And she didn’t really fill them.
I found myself longing to be back at my “old school” with my “old boss”. I kept comparing my current situation with the “glory days”, and whenever I did so I would end up in a major FUNK.
This compare and despair was exacerbated whenever I had a professional development day with my fellow assistant principals. We would spend the majority of the day visiting classrooms and talking about how to support the teachers to grow, but we inevitably talked about the principals we worked under. I felt like I was the only one struggling with mine. I would sit in discomfort knowing that my colleagues had great or even good relationships with their bosses, when mine was as sour as ever.
“It’s not fair,” and “Why can’t I just have a normal principal?” were common refrains in my head.
The grass was forever greener in the past, or working for someone else.
It felt awful and I had no idea how to get out of the comparison trap I found myself in.
It’s not a fun place to be, so if you are where I often find myself, here are some quick tips for breaking the cycle.
1) Notice Your Comparing Thoughts and Pay Attention to the Triggers
It is important for you to notice what exactly you are thinking when you get stuck in this pattern of comparison and also what the triggers are.
2) Separate the Facts from your Interpretation of Them
It is our thoughts that create our despair, not the actual person or situation. If you can separate the two, you will be better able to handle what is right in front of you.
3) Look at What is Lying Underneath
If these negative feelings are arising inside of you, it is because you aren’t getting something that you need. Look a little deeper and see what needs aren’t being met. Once you discover that, you will be able to come up with ways to help you meet those needs. You might be able to do so alone, or you might have to ask for another to help you.
If you want additional support to get yourself out of the cycle, please reach out.