Following on from our Leap Day Blog about Trying Out, we consider how looking after your mental fitness, as you might a garden, can help to weed out social comparison and nurture your growth mindset. 
Weeding out social comparison and nurturing your growth mindset this spring… 
 
With spring, new growth, and avoiding the trap that is comparing ourselves to others that we touched upon in our last blog, in mind now feels like the right time to go all in with the ‘looking after your mental fitness can be a bit like looking after a garden” analogy. 
 
We have no idea if this is going to work but, in the spirit of ‘Trying Out’, we’re going to give it a go anyway.  
 
Good luck, everyone! 
How can you avoid comparing yourself to others and worrying what they might think when trying out something new? 
 
For many of us social comparison and worrying about what others might think can be debilitating and can prevent us from moving forward in our lives. It can leave us lacking confidence and feeling stuck where we are, both emotionally and physically. 
 
At Strive we know exactly how rewarding trying out something new can be, but we don’t underestimate for a moment just how challenging it can be to push the boundaries of your comfort zone, and we certainly don’t underestimate just how vulnerable it can make us feel when we start to consider what others might think too… 
 
Will they think the new thing we’d like to try out is silly? Will they think we can’t possibly achieve what we hope to with our new endeavour? Will they think it’s not challenging enough, and that they’d be able to do it easily, so what’s all the fuss about anyway? Will they laugh at us if we don’t succeed? or, maybe even worse, will they pity us if we fail? 
 
Worrying about all of these things is normal, people need each other so being accepted by our groups is important but, worrying about these things can also hold you back and prevent your personal growth, and I guess that’s why we’re here writing this blog as a reminder for you (and us!) that focusing on your mental fitness and wellbeing, whilst trying not to concern yourself unduly with what others might think, does get easier. 
 
For now though, if you’re struggling with a tendency to compare yourself and your life to others, or with the fear of other people’s judgment, take a minute imagine that your mental fitness is a garden and that, like all gardens, it requires time and investment in order to thrive. 
Your “Mental Fitness Garden”… 
 
Imagine that from your garden you can see your neighbour’s garden. You can see your friend’s garden and your colleague’s garden. You can even see the garden of that kid you used to go to school with who is now super successful, earning megabucks, jet-setting around the world with their cool high-profile pals, and is ALWAYS sharing it on social media. You can also see the garden you expected to have at this point in your life AND the garden you’re certain everyone else expected you to have by now too. 
 
Imagine this and remember, that comparing your garden to anyone else’s consumes valuable time and energy that you could be investing in tending to your own growth, and that making these comparisons will also always be an ultimately fruitless undertaking. 
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But maybe we still can’t really help that tendency to look around and compare where we are in life to where we perceive others to be - it’s what we’ve always done, it’s what everyone else does too, and it just happens so quickly now that we barely get a moment to think about it. 
 
If this is the case, take a moment to consider that, even if someone else’s garden looks great from where you are… 
 
Maybe 
on closer inspection, it’s just not. 
 
Maybe 
it’s all AstroTurf and fake plastic trees. 
 
Maybe 
it could all blow away in the next storm. 
 
And… 
 
Maybe 
if it did, it would reveal some ugly old concrete slabs and very little opportunity for anything to grow. 
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Alternatively, maybe it really is exactly as amazing and established as it looks. In this case take a minute to consider that… 
 
Maybe 
they inherited a more fertile piece of land with some already well-established roots and plants. 
 
Maybe 
their garden has always had just the right amount of sunshine and rain, or… 
 
Maybe 
it hasn't, but they’ve found a way to regrow and flourish after that particularly dry summer or super soggy winter. 
 
Maybe 
other gardens and gardeners have provided extra seeds or shared helpful tools with them along the way. 
 
Maybe 
they’ve been able to receive that support from others, then have somehow also found time and energy to practice their gardening skills and incorporate them into the day-to-day maintenance of their little patch of land. 
 
Maybe 
the more they made tending to their garden a habit, the easier and more instinctive it got. 
 
Maybe 
consistently putting a little bit of time into looking after their garden meant that, when the bad weather did inevitably make an appearance, the damage caused was significantly less than it could have been, and it was quicker than it ever had been before for them to get their garden back to its best. 
 
Maybe 
just maybe, no garden will ever really be perfect, but all gardens can benefit from a little love and care. 
 
And... 
Maybe, that’s a lot of maybes! 
 
The truth of the matter is, that we will never really know for sure what lies behind the outward appearance of another person's garden, just like we will never know for sure what lies behind another person’s outward appearance and how they present themselves to the world. So, the time spent thinking about things we can’t control and will never know for sure, could be better spent on the things we do know, and what we do know is that we can all choose to invest in ourselves, and we can all try our best to give ourselves what we need to grow and thrive. 
 
Even if it doesn’t come naturally yet we can challenge those unhelpful thought patterns, weeding out our tendency to compare ourselves to others and to let our worries hold us back. We can always find new ways to develop and grow and, so long as growth is the goal, we can never truly fail. 
Look after yourself… 
 
So, even if your garden feels safe and established and fruitful, don’t forget to spend some time tending to it and trying out a few new things anyway. Whether its new skills, new experiences and new perspectives, or new ways to spend time looking after yourself. Keep investing in your growth so that, if and when your garden does take a knock, it has everything it needs to bounce back stronger than ever. 
 
And, if your garden feels more like a scrappy little patch of soil than a vibrant space full beautiful blooms right now, don’t underestimate what’s quietly working away under that soil. Let others provide inspiration, ideas, and support but never let anyone tell you that your garden isn’t doing the best it can with what it has – least of all yourself! Plant your seeds, tend to your space, really think about what it needs right now, and try out some things that will support your garden’s ongoing growth. 
 
Even small things like trying a new recipe, or trying a new route to work that gives you opportunity to spend 5 minutes appreciating a local park, can provide you with novelty and nourishment or, if you’ve been running around helping to look after everyone else’s garden recently, maybe you would benefit from trying out a new bubble bath or herbal tea? Perhaps setting aside some time just for you could be the new thing you try? Allow yourself some time to rest or engage in something new and adventurous if, on reflection, that’s what you feel you need most right now. If it’s connection or inspiration you’re missing, is there a new group you could join or would a new hobby or craft activity that help?* 
 
Whatever it is make sure it’s right for you. Look to others for inspiration and ideas, but not to check that you’re doing it right because... 
 
If it’s right for you, then you’re doing it right! 
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*For any Strive members looking for something new to try out… 
 
Don’t forget that we hold weekly Energise sessions where you can join our wonderful Strive Mentor Clare! These online Energise session start at 7pm every Tuesday with Clare providing insight and leading discussion on topics relevant to the 10 Keys of Happiness and our ongoing mental fitness journeys.  
 
Following this Clare provides guided meditation from around 7.30 until the sessions end at 8pm. 
 
If jumping into these Energise session all at once feels like a lot, you are very welcome to take it one step at a time so, whilst we’d love to see and hear from you, there is no obligation to put your camera on or to speak if you’d rather just listen. If it makes it easier, you can also stay anonymous to the group.  
 
We know that trying new things can be difficult, so we want to make it all as easy as possible for you so, if you’re running late that’s no problem either! Just make sure you join us before the guided relaxation starts at 7.30pm and you’ll be just fine - we really would love for you to join us! 
 
If you’ve not joined already, we also have a Strive Private Members’ Facebook Group and a brand-new WhatsApp group too. Here you can join us for reminders and updates as well as sharing stories and experiences with other Strive members. As with everything at Strive, we want to make it as easy as possible for you and are happy for you to participate as much or as little as you feel able to. If you are not already a member of these groups just let your Strive mentor know or drop us an email at info@strive-online.co.uk
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And, if any of this resonates with you but you’re not a Strive member yet… 
 
Please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more about Strive and our wonderful community. 
 
Even if you’re not quite ready to jump in, you can visit our website: www.strive-online.co.uk, connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on Facebook, or Spotify, subscribe to our mailing list, drop us an email at info@strive-online.co.uk, or give us a call on 0116 340 0630
 
We love getting to know new people and really would love to hear from you! 
 
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