Comparative Self-Reflection: Stop Giving Yourself a Smoke Enema

In the late 1700’s tobacco smoke enemas were used to revive drowning victims, alleviate headaches, stop stomach cramps, even cure typhoid.

The medical community built an enema kit for blowing smoke up you-know-where. It consisted of bellows and various implements for puffing smoke up the rectum.


We are the only species “brilliant” enough to blow smoke up our own nether sphincter muscle.

We convince ourselves we’re right and antagonists have character deficiencies.

We demonize others in order to justify self-serving decisions. In other words, it’s their fault I’m a jerk.

We scatter like cockroaches when the personal responsibility light flashes on.

A cure for self-smoke-blowing:

Stop comforting yourself by comparing yourself with yourself.  Escape the fog of self-deception by comparing yourself to a noble standard.

Compare yourself with others – not so you can define yourself by others – but so you can discover unrealized potential in yourself.

Stop using, “It’s not who I am,” as an excuse for complacency.

Growth can be stressful. Development requires sweat. If there’s no stressful sweat in your life – at least occasionally – pull the dirt in over yourself and be done with it.

The lives of others reveal what you might be capable of, both noble and ignoble.

Growth ends when the strengths of others are a threat. Growth begins when they’re an example.

You don’t know what’s absent when you compare yourself with yourself. But when you compare yourself with an outside standard, you wipe steam from the glass.

A person who never compares themselves with an exceptional-other grows comfortable and complacent.


Write the names of five people you admire.

Record their character traits as you see them revealed in behaviors.

Record their strengths, weaknesses, and achievements.

What rises in you when you practice comparative self-reflection?

There’s a difference between being inspired by someone and trying to become someone you aren’t.

Whose example has inspired and/or challenged you?

This post brings up thorny issues in my mind? What about you?