Lately, I’ve been learning a lesson. A lesson which has been very hard to learn. A lesson which I keep learning in different ways, at different times and one which makes me realize that I apparently need to repeat it because I’m awful at it.
The lesson is this: Comparison is a murderer. It kills joy. A thief. It takes away peace and contentment. And an absolutely awful companion. It leaves one feeling very lonely.
The problem is this: Comparison has been my bedfellow for far too long. (Sorry hubs)
I was sitting in church Sunday, listening to an amazing talk about it and it all started to make sense.
Thanks to social media, we now are bombarded on all sides with information, articles, links, photos. Social media is kind of one hugemongous TMI situation. Like reality television. We don’t want to watch, but we can’t help ourselves: we’re hooked. We’re suddenly now on a need to know-need to know all the time-basis. Even though we don’t really want to be or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
I’ve had many conversations with my girlfriends about this phenomenon. The good and the bad that goes along with facebook, twitter, instagram, myspace (is that still around?), pinterest and whathaveyou. Many friends have left those sites because they realized that it stirred up things in them that were undesirable. Things they didn’t like. And I certainly agree. If it weren’t for our website, www.YourBabyBooty.com, I would have left facebook long ago.
Here’s why: it’s hard to be content when comparing one’s life against the audience of facebook. A crowd that inevitably is filled with the most beautiful, self assured, wealthy, confident, successful, wise, funny people we’ve ever met. Well that’s how we see them, isn’t it?
My husband, one of the beautiful, wise and witty crowd (ha) said to me:
“We compare our inner selves with everyone else’s outer selves.”
That rattled me to the core. Because it’s true.
So often in life, as women, as mothers, as friends, sisters, spouses, employees, bosses, business owners, etc., we go about our business and feel pretty damned pleased with ourselves.
“I just made a kick ass meal tonight and didn’t even have to run to the store for ingredients! Score!”
“My son slept for 25 minutes this afternoon and I was able to take a shower!! Yippee!”
“I was able to drink my entire cup of coffee while it was still hot, without reheating. Great morning to me!”
We revel in our victories and may even post a picture or update to spread the good news.
Then we make that fatal mistake which seals our fate (dum. dum. dum)
We check facebook and instagram while we’re enjoying our hot cup of coffee and it’s like the air has gotten sucked out of our sails.
The joy evaporates.
We notice Brenda has made gluten free, home made pasta from veggies in her garden that she had canned last summer (how is that even possible?) and served with home made marinara sauce and parmesiano reggiano from their trip to Italy they just got back from. And fresh, home made bread?? What the???
“Doesn’t Brenda have effing jet lag? She just got back? And canning? Puh-lease. How the hell did she pull this one off? And there’s fresh basil sprinkled on top? Whatev dude.“
Then we scroll down to the status update of Casey who proclaims “I just HATE to wake up my daughter from her 3.5 hour nap. But if I don’t she’ll never sleep tonight. I wish she wouldn’t nap for sooo long. I never get any errands done in the afternoon. Ugh.“
That is when, despite the fact that I love Jesus and am a devoted Christ follower, would like to take my hand and slap her across the face. Or at least wish that she could experience the bliss of having bags under her eyes the size of that Louis Vuitton suitcase Brenda just hauled back from Italy with all her parmigiano reggiano! (Like I do.) FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!
And finally, we jump to instagram, where a friend we love a lot, posted a fabulous photo from yesterday when they toured a coffee plantation and did fresh Kona Coffee tastings while overlooking the gorgeous leeward island sunset in Hawaii.
That’s when we look down at our hot coffee and suddenly feel like it being hot enough is stupid and silly. And we feel like shit. But cold shit, because it’s -5 degrees and the next item on my list is getting out my snow blower so I can get out of the damned driveway and run to the drug store for more kleenex.
Just like that.
The air has gotten sucked out of our sails.
The joy evaporates.
As Jeff taught on Sunday, we’re pretty happy with our lot in life, our hot coffee, our power napping kiddos, our healthy meal UNTIL we meet effing comparison (my words, not his) and it wreaks havoc on our joy.
We’re content until we compare.
And did you notice, like I did, that comparison’s BFF in all of this is Judgment?
I had an “aha” moment, when I realized that I would get all judgey and on my high horse after I had compared my lot in life with someone else’s. So of course I had to judge cause I had to make myself feel better about my “crappy” situation. “Well, at least I didn’t leave my kids high and dry for 10 days to tour the Tuscan Countryside! Those poor kiddos had to stay with their grandparents while their mom and dad gallavanted around Italy.”
I know…right? It’s pretty ridic.
So what do we do about it?
The truth is, I don’t know what we do about it.
The first, rather obvious thing, would be :
1. Don’t compare.
Ha. That’s funny. That’s kinda like saying “don’t breathe.”
The thing I’m challenging myself with is to bring it back to thankfulness and gratitude. When I feel the contentment start to slip away, I thank God for specific blessings. Some may do this by having a blessing jar, or gratitude list etc.
I am choosing to focus on what I have instead of what I want.
Where I am, instead of where I’d rather be (hellooooo Turks & Caicos!!!)
The sleep I get, instead of the sleep I lack.
For some, it might mean saying goodbye to social media. That’s awesome.
For others, it might mean a fast from it.
Or cutting down on who your friends, followers etc, are.
The point is: Don’t let comparison bust into your house and rob you of your precious heirlooms, like love, joy, peace, patience and all that good stuff. Cause if it hasn’t already, it will. Make like Bruce Lee and kick comparison where it counts, right in the junk.
What are you doing to protect your joy?