I have seen so many posts on my social media lately of people justifying how they are home schooling or not. Why they are sending their kids back this term (or not!). Some really sad posts about people just overwhelmed by all of this and not able to do what their friend or relative is doing etc! Can we all please STOP – please, stop it now!
Stop before it destroys you.
Know this – You do not need to justify your life or parenting choices to the world and you certainly do not need to be comparing your approach (or their approach) in a time of crisis. This week is mental health awareness week and take it from me, comparison has been a major burden to my mental health and self confidence in recent years. I have spent far too much of my time comparing everything from my life, my weight, my style, my home and my life choices to others and then feeling like I need to justifying why I do what I do, eat what I eat etc etc and guess what? It is so unbelievably soul destroying.
As soon as I learnt how unhappy this was making me and how true happiness comes from internal evaluation not external, I was able to start combating it and being more content and happy. Because, whether we are comparing to others or to an unrealistic ideal we have fabricated, any level of comparing ourselves is harmful to our mental health and well being and we need to STOP it.
What is it about ourselves that we feel we have to look or be like others? Why do we have to have what they have or be doing what they are doing?
Are we not all individuals? With our own unique gifts and perspectives?
Aren’t all the colours of the rainbow beautiful in their own way? How bland it would look all the same colour!
We all need to stop selling ourselves short, trying to live up to unrealistic expectations and perfectionism and just live life in the way we want to – being us and following our dreams and the things that bring US joy!
Be happy for others – please be happy for them and celebrate their success, but don’t allow that to make you believe that they are better or you are less because you haven’t got or done that! Let it inspire you, but not destroy you.
I’ll be vulnerable with you now and tell you that one of the biggest lessons for me last year was to stop comparing my life to others and feeling less than them because at that time money was tight or I didn’t have all I wanted just yet. It was a really hard lesson for me to realise and learn and It was a very painful lesson too. I share it now because I feel it is relevant to a lot of people at the moment. I have also found some ways that helped me to combat comparing myself; my life, weight, home, parenting etc to others and helped me feel more content and happy with how I do things and who I am. I hope these help you too – some I have delved into quite bluntly to help you see the damage it is causing in your ability to be you!
1> Remind yourself of your own greatness and capabilities: First – stop comparing your weaknesses to others strengths. Realise that what you can do, others cannot and vice versa – that is life – remember we are all unique.
Happiness comes when we see that each and everyone single of us (even you) has greatness, capabilities and things we are bossing in life. Okay so maybe you cant bake for toffee – nor can I really. And, maybe your useless at crafts or being on time or don’t have the same academic abilities as others etc (the list can go on and on) but does it really matter in the schemes of things? You have a whole host of other things you are good at and, your different approach and different priorities to others in life is because you have different goals and it works for you in your circumstances (and your family if you have one) – don’t let what others are achieving or how others are approaching things in life cast doubt on what you felt was right for you in you life to be doing.
We can always learn new ways of thinking and seeing and doing, but that is growth. Doubting yourself is destruction.
2> List what makes you happy and do it – Honestly I want you to answer this question; Do you know what makes you happy? And, do you know where in life you find real joy and peace?
Many of us overlook these things or simply are not aware of knowing ourselves well enough to be sure of where our own joy comes from in life. If we have spent a lot of time comparing to others or trying to be more like them, then chances are that you are doing hobbies, taking holidays or decorating your house because your friend or relative did it like that. I’m sorry to sound blunt but you are copying and not being true to you!
Through studying counselling I have really come to know myself better – it wasn’t all pretty and at times its been embarrassing or painful but, passed all of that – it was enlightening. And one of my favourite pieces of knowledge was knowing who I am, what I love and what brings me joy in life. Knowing these key things, has helped me significantly to plan my life, set goals and ensure self care. I know where my joy is found – it is in visiting historical places and being outdoors, it is watching films in my joggers and enjoying little treats – with or without Mr Smith (usually with)…it is in social situations, travelling and dancing like no one is watching. It is driving with the windows down and music up, being silly with my kids and taking new adventures! Singing hymns and walking on the beach or swimming in the outdoors! Oh how my heart and life feel full doing these things.
What brings YOU happiness and Joy? Do it for you and not to impress, keep up with or be like others!
3> Be happy for others but don’t let their wins outshine your own – I have already briefly touched on this but, the more you practice this, I can assure you the more you begin to see that others success doesn’t make you any less of one. You are not a failure because your friend succeeded. In fact the opposite is true; you begin to appreciate the greatness of others and you begin to see how happiness and love for others grows. You become less bitter in life and you see that there is room in this world for everyone to be doing their thing and the more we all shine the brighter it becomes!
Turn it around and be happy for them – it is such a wonderful thing to celebrate others and see/be a part of their happiness too.
4> Look at how good your life is – not what is lacking – it is so very easy to list all things we don’t have. Anyone can reel off why life is hard and what is missing – I used to be a champ at it! And, I am not saying don’t talk about that stuff because sometimes life sucks and we all need to vent. But don’t let that be your way of life or default mindset. Switch up your perspective and look at what is in your control to change or what you already have and, suddenly you realise we each are so richly blessed it is unreal.
I’ll say this again – it is mentally healthy to acknowledge pain, injustice, struggle and loss in your life. You have to grieve these things in order to deal with them and heal. But, staying there, in that pain and suffering for longer than you need to is not healthy. If you find you are living in a space where life seems bleak and you, you may need help from a professional but also you need to take a step back and switch perspective. Yes bad things happen, or is happening; loss happens, heartache happens, but it isnt a case of choosing one or the other. I have discovered sadness and happiness can co-exist together. I can be sad my child died and at times feel robbed, but I can still laugh, enjoy the moment and grow. I can be sad my husband didn’t get that job or that our income isn’t where we hoped at this stage of life but also still be grateful we still have an income, are good at budgeting to enjoy things along the way, own our home, have a car, food and can travel. See how much fuller life suddenly looks?!
Look at the goodness you have over what is lacking compared to others or your expectations.
5> Celebrate the small things – Life is always going to have hard moments. People are always going to be having or doing things we wish we could do or have. And that is okay.
Celebrating the small things in my life helped me be more grateful and helped me notice the small blessings and accomplishments in the everyday. It helped me be more positive and focus internally instead of looking at what everyone else had and was doing. We like to do “cheers” with posh pop in fancy glasses when one of us passes an exam or gets a new job or a general accomplishment etc, we like to acknowledge the amazing in the ordinary and it makes us a lot more happy.
Celebrate those little wins – look for the blessings and the goodness every day. Look for your moments of greatness and celebrate that daily and regularly… these small things add up to big things and you have no need to look outside and compare.
6 > Be grateful every day – gratitude is the antidote to so many things – especially the negative feelings that come from comparisons.
So if out of this entire post, all you take from it is to be more grateful, I promise you that you will see a big change in your life. You will see less comparisons made about yourself and to others. Less envy and judging of them and yourself. You will feel lighter and happier as you let go.
The best thing that I have discovered is that gratitude makes me so much more content and will for you too!
You are great, we all are. Let go of the perfectionism – there is no perfect look, way to parent, way to do life…let go of the need to be like others and doing things like them, or thinking they will approve of you more if you are like them. Let go of focusing on what is missing and look at what you have and can become!
Remember you are you – great and full of so much potential. So, do what works and get smashing what you desire to accomplish. Let your style and lifestyle represent you and your passions, not a mirror of someone else….and be grateful everyday for the wonderful and beautiful in you and YOUR life.