“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
When I was growing up, I was an A student and the “good girl” in the family. My younger brother was often asked: “Why can’t you be like your sister?” I hated hearing that as much as he did, but the truth is, we grew up being constantly compared to each other, as many siblings in the world unfortunately are.
During my teenager years, I was heavier and was not one of the popular girls. There was not a single day that I didn’t think to myself: “Why can’t I look like her?”
Growing up being compared to others, we learn to compare ourselves. Part of our self-worth becomes dependent upon outside recognition. No wonder we’ve developed a nasty habit of comparing ourselves, preventing us from seeing reality.
One of the biggest obstacles in the way of our developing healthy self-love is playing the comparison game. Have you ever seen someone’s family picture on Facebook and thought, “Why can’t my family be as happy and perfect as theirs?” You listen to your friend share about her great evening with her husband last night, and you think: “Wow, when is the last time my partner and I had an evening like that? My husband’s just not as nice as hers.” The reality may simply be that your friend and her partner ended up in a fight, but instead she chose to share with you how she wished the evening had gone. Because, see, she does what you do…compares herself to others.
When you compare yourself to others, you often compare your worst internal monologue to their best external worlds.
If you could get closer, you’d both see that the grass is not really greener. It’s just different.
Let me share with you about one of my coaching experiences. I coached two good friends, one being a referral from the other. I kept strict confidences and didn’t share any information with the other, but there were moments when I wished I could have! Especially when one day, woman A said to me: “She (woman B) has the perfect life! She has the perfect husband and the perfect marriage and everybody loves her!” Two hours later, woman B came to me and shared: “The truth is that my marriage is falling apart. I put a fake smile on my face and wish I had her (woman A) life.”
Each of these women had created a story in her head about the other. These stories were based on the best external parts they saw in each other, and these stories created illusions. Isn’t it interesting that though they are friends, they missed seeing the reality of each other’s true selves?
When you compare yourself to others, you compare your reality to an illusion, to a world of fantasy.
Don’t waste precious time robbing yourself of joy by comparing yourself to others. Simply stop comparing.
When you catch yourself taking that dangerous sidelong glance, stop and say: “How can I be more kind and loving towards ME right now”?
Love yourself. Make a list of your gifts and attributes. If you struggle coming up with a list, ask your friends and family members what they like about you. Be bold in asking. They will be happy to tell you! If only we could all see ourselves as others see us. Write your list on an index card, place it in a visible spot, and begin every day by reminding yourself of the good person you really are.
I am a child of God. I love myself for who I am. I have many positive attributes to share with the world.
Catch yourself playing the tricky game of comparison and remember that you are your own worst opponent. By avoiding comparisons, you will discover the joy in YOU.