If you’re looking for a shortcut for taking a nosedive in self esteem with a double shot of shame on the side, then comparison is the vehicle you want to be strapped into. Trust me.
I’m a professional.
There’s was some marketing campaign I vaguely remember from when I was a kid that boldly challenged consumers everywhere “Dare to Compare!”
Well, lets just say I am nothing if not obedient! I dared to compare everything! From butter verses margarine to down pillows verses pollyfill, to Sally verses Suzy.
And then just because I’m an overachiever, I compared myself verses Sally, myself verses Suzy and myself verses pollyfill! *I’m softer and have more puffy bulk, but don’t hold my shape as well as a pillow.
Plus, I like to bring the challenge up a notch, so I compared my weaknesses to another person’s strengths. OR I compared things I can’t change; like my DNA makeup to another person’s DNA makeup. It has taken me decades to fine tune the act of comparing, But the thing is, even though I’ve essentially reached nirvana on the comparison scale, Comparison only leaves me feeling empty and hopeless. Well, at least until shame rushes in and fills the empty space like water in a pool. Shame is fluid, it leaks in through the cracks, floods the canyon of space between what we would like to be doing, having or being, and what we do, have and who we are, with a deep reservoir of sorrow.
Keep your clothes on! You do NOT want to go swimming in this water hole! #cramp
Comparison only leaves you feeling defeated and unworthy. It steals your sense of contentment, robs you of perspective and leaves you feeling empty and joyless, and if you follow instructions as well as I do, wet.
The bigger the gap, the greater the pain, the wetter the girl.
The thing is, when we enter the state of comparison-making, our seeing is distorted. We become blind to our own value, easily dismissing the real worth we have. It’s like seeing through poo colored glasses, instead of rose colored glasses. #thatsgonnaleaveamark
Comparing is a learned behavior, (blast) and it’s highly addictive (double blast). No, I mean HIGHLY addictive, like if crack, cocaine & meth were introduced to chocolate, and fell in love, and made a chocolate drug baby in shape of a small decadent truffel poodle almost too adorable to eat, addictive. #hehasyoureyes
And trust me, there are no shortage of places to find a high. Dealers wait like Taxi drivers at JFK a powdered bag of hopelessness at the ready in case you need a quick fix! #nextinline
The good news is, you can beat it! The bad news is, it takes effort. #woof
Wondering where to start? Well, one way is by learning to desensitize yourself to obvious comparison triggers; like a facebook post of, a stunning friend in a bikini with the caption, “Back to my pre-pregnancy weight at two weeks postpartum!” You also might want to ignore her last few other posts where she revealed she pumps extra breast milk to send to Albanian orphans, is teaching her newborn French and is a tiger in bed. Duh.
Daily we are crushed by social & non-social media’s never ending subtle, and not so subtle, messages about who and what we are suppose to be. Clearly, this is a “Do Not Push The Red Button” trigger, that we repeatedly hit expecting a reward, like a rat in a science experiment.
I mean, at least that’s what my friends tell me 😉
Also, it’s worth being aware of the preconceived (like in the womb) ideas about peer groups that we need to let go; Jocks are more athletic; Nerds are smarter. Beauty Queens have more crowns to lend to their daughters on Halloween. Let’s stop assigning people roles in a play that they didn’t audition for, and that we aren’t directing.
Need another trigger to combat? Parenting is a good cliff to jump from. Trust me. I know. I suggest you start with a flawless swan dive, then land in a belly flop.
Oh. And make sure there’s water in the pool before you jump! #yourewelcome
Comparisons disconnect us from ourselves and from others. It never works no matter what side of the coin you call. For example, if we compare ourselves and conclude that we are less than someone, we feel depleted, depressed and want to withdraw from others so they won’t see us the way we see ourselves; as unlovable or incapable.
You might be surprised to learn that isolation actually repels human connectedness. #shockingright
On the flip side, we can also use comparison to another person as a crutch to “feel better” about ourselves.
Well at least my hair doesn’t look like hers! What a rats nest!
Well at least my child has never thrown a box of lucky charms at his sister!
Please note, my children don’t have sisters. But trust me they have thrown a box of lucky charms at their brothers, and me. Also, the neighbors, the mailman, their teacher, the doctor 😉 But NEVER at their sister, so CLEARLY I must be doing something right!
Living your life to the beat of either one of these tunes is a guaranteed way to loose the music, severe the tight rope of human connectedness and send everyone sailing far away from you. Trust me, I might feel good at first, but after a while even the plushest of velvety superiority can start to rub you wrong.
Or, at least that’s what my friends tell me.
Comparison steals more than just joy! It belittles our achievements, robs us of time and energy and depletes us of happiness. But still we keep biting; we do it for the high, the reassurance that at least for the moment, we are not found wanting, that we are deemed worthy of belonging, that no one has seen our true stripes and sent us packing just yet.
BUT. Do you know what a better high is than comparing?
I dare you.
I double dog dare you.
Work to know who YOU are and what YOU want, and stay on that yellow brick road towards YOUR dream. Stop judging the tin man for being heartless, and the scarecrow for being… scared. Stop swerving haphazardly even if flying monkeys are coming your way, stay the course.
Comparison isn’t all bad. The trick is, you just have to compare you with YOU. Strive to be better a little better than YOU were the day before. Celebrate the small, miniscule steps that YOU take towards your goal. For example I am currently celebrating that I put on a bra today. #yourwelcome
Yes, I know. This is DIFFICULT.
Both the bra, and the comparison. #samesame
It’s much easier to just mindlessly stalk others on social media until we get so distracted by their carefully curated snapshots of perfection that we only focus on what we DON’T have. Instead of remembering what we DO have.
And then all that’s left to do is wallow, snd sputter, and sink.
Maybe for a change, we could show a little self compasion #whatfreshhellisthis Befriend ourselves and acknowledge the difficult parts of our journey. We have all triumphed over trauma; lets stop looking at how far we have to go, but instead consider far we’ve come.
Some of what we have experienced others may never have experienced—much less survived.
Instead of comparing ourselves to others negatively, to reclaim joy we need to think about where we are now and compare this to where we have been—yesterday, last week, last month, last year. This is especially important when we are recovering from illness, a setback, a pandemic, or motherhood 😉
We have to remember that while we are not all in the same boat, we are all in the same storm.
I get it. What I’m asking you to do, what I’m asking myself to do, is actually much MUCH harder than comparing. I’m asking us all, to grab courage by the horns, be brave, be bold.
Dare not to compare.
“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts.” -Brene Brown
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” -Zen Shin
Maybe we can all take a lesson? To not just stop to smell the roses, but to stop so we can BE the roses.
And maybe, just for kicks we could actually start today? I mean, you could. I would, but I’ve GOT to hit the gym first. Listen, you should see the ladies I hang out with! I’m NEVER gonna catch up! 😉 #megaathletes #icantkeepup #babysteps