When You Feel Like You're Behind in Life

advice mental health Sep 14, 2022

I always imaged how I would feel about myself if I was alone on an island. If I had no concept of other people and had never seen one. I was the only person on earth, eating coconuts, banging on trees as drums and swimming with the fishies. 

I’d probably end up worshipping the sun, making sand castles and if all necessities were taken care of, I’d make a sweet rope swing.

If I had no idea of others, would I think I’m ugly? Would I think I’m tall? Would I think I’m not good enough? 

Could I even conjure up a thought that “I’m left behind”

When we feel like we’re lagging behind in our lives, it’s because we keep score based on our network of friends, family, coworkers and random people we watch on a screen that we don’t know.

Think about how our comparisons have made our lives seem like less. We may feel like we need to catch up and since we’re not in a specific phase of life, we must be doing something wrong.

I know the feeling and on my best days, I laugh at that voice inside that believes everything would be perfect if I was somewhere else.

I’m 33 years old and going back to school to do my masters. I’m just at a coffee shop, change of subject but is it just me or are tattoo sleeves a mandatory requirement after you turn 30, for both men and women. Amazing how we live in a world now where identity is so fluid, yet people are okay with putting something so permanent on their skin. Know what I’m saying? I’m curious. Anyways…

When I start to compare to others, I have to watch myself objectively as a person who just wants to be somewhere else. Now this has nothing to do with having goals, dreams and aspirations. This is about thinking that who we are and what we do isn’t good enough because it’s not like the others.

So, who are they? Who are the others we compare to? No, like really, who are they? How much do you really know about them?

As someone who asks questions and is entertained by the lives and stories of others I can tell you with full confidence that no one has it “easy”. Sure, some have been blessed with great health and financial safety, but problems and challenge are never far away.

Everybody struggles and everybody believes in certain moments that the grass is greener.

 Think about how you engage with this part of you that wants to be someone or somewhere else in life. Talk to this part of you. See it as a friend and tend to them. Listen and chat.  


Here are a few tangible tips for when you’re feeling left behind:


  1. Know that comparison is strictly part of our biology as a species. Take a moment to step back and see how much you know about these people who’s lives are better.
  2. Practice gratitude. I know it’s tough in difficult moments but write down a few things that have happened today or during the week that have brought you a sense of good – a sense of contentment or joy. Really notice what is good in your life.
  3. Get off social media
  4. One step at a time. If you really want to be somewhere else, okay that’s great! What’s the very first thing you need to do to get there? Without thinking 20 steps ahead or picturing yourself in that moment (neuroscience in “manifesting” actually states that its better to imagine yourself working towards your goal rather than already achieving it. Better dopamine response). One step at a time. My example is I picture myself doing retreats with students and adults in the woods. First thing is get that masters degree. Before that I need to apply. Before that I need to get a reference letter. So I need to reach out to my old university profs. Before that I need to get on my computer. Before that I need to piss. Okay, step one is piss.
  5. Realize that you’re on your own path and life isn’t a race. Everyone has their own stories, history, dreams and interests. Who are they!? The other great question to ask is “who are you?” 

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