I recently had a phone conversation with one of my old roommates and she’s been going through some hard times. I suggested that the best thing to do is to stop comparing herself to someone else and focus on things she can control. I said that when you compare yourself to someone else you are only hurting yourself. She told me she was going to write that down! And I realize how true my very own words were.
Too often this last school year my husband and I would “wish” we were like so many others… Wished our parents had paid for our whole wedding, wished we had a better paying job, a better home (in a better neighborhood), had friends, had a second car, had a better, more fuel-efficient car, had more toys and clothes for the girls, had a full-sized couch, had nice clothes, had a better stroller, had family so close we could just drop the girls off whenever, were better parents, were more fit, were better looking, had more/better skills (like sewing, cooking, etc), and so much more! We often wished for things that are in/from the past and cannot change now. These “wishes” were really nothing more than comparisons. These comparisons did not make us happy. These wishes didn’t bring hope. Wishing for our situation to change or be different was ridiculous. Our life is what it is! And we needed to live it!
Josh and I have been much happier and healthier since moving to our new place. In many ways our situation really hasn’t changed: we’re still in quite a bit of debt, we still don’t make much, we still have twins, still have normal bills, still are on government programs, still only have one car. But, we’ve changed our attitudes about our situation.
[Tweet “We have discovered that ensuring our own happiness rests solely with us and our ability to stop comparing our ourselves to others.”]
We are working toward not comparing ourselves to others.
Josh and I are trying desperately to be more positive, and try to catch the other. We try to not worry about things we can’t control, something we gleaned from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
If something is not in your area of influence, worrying, thinking, and concerning yourself about something in which you cannot control does you very little good and wastes a lot of your time and energy. While this doesn’t mean we should stick our head in a hole in the ground, it does mean we should do what we can do and then get on with our day and our lives.
I think as a mother comparing yourself is a very harmful thing! Women are so down on themselves far too often. While men often “one-up” each other in great feats of awesomeness (“I can burp all the ABCs in just one breath…” vs. “I walked on the moon…”) women often “one-up” each other in pity parties (“My dog died by getting run over…” vs. “I never even had a dog though I begged my parents for one!”). Brian Regan hilariously examines this very thing:
Comparison is Everywhere
If we want to be happy, I think the key is to accept the circumstances that are your life. Yes, having twins is doubly demanding, but so what? It’s all I’ve known and it’s what I must do. I won’t be giving one away to the circus any time soon, so I better learn how to handle and enjoy the circumstance. Josh won’t be making more money for several more years so we might as well figure out a budget that works! We won’t have money for a new car/second car so we better take good care of the car we have now and give thanks we have a car (and no car payments!) and pray that it will keep running.
We have found that accepting the circumstances and being grateful for what you are blessed with lets you be happy. Even though life throws you unexpected curve balls, the best response is to adjust and move forward. We need to let things go that we cannot control, that we cannot change. Let go of the past, forgive, and move forward.
I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.
Stop Comparing Yourself
So, may I suggest, that you (my dear reader) stop judging yourself. Stop condemning yourself. Stop comparing and contrasting yourself! Learning to not compare should be a top priority! Stop asking “Why me?” Instead do your best, at whatever level that “best” may be at right now, and work on yourself for yourself, not for some unreal “ideal” of your friends, peers, family, or community. Comparing yourself to others only hurts yourself. It limits your progression. It limits your happiness. It limits your potential. So stop. Love yourself. Love your situation. Be grateful for what you have. You are a child of God, and no matter how bleak your life may seem, it is okay. God is with you. He has not forsaken you. Trust God. Things will work out and you can choose to be happy now. You can choose how to react to new situations. You can choose your outlook. While other things are out of your control, you can always choose how you will respond. Choose to respond carefully, calmly, happily, optimistically, and patiently. Look for the good; there is so much out there! And I believe you will be a better, happier, you.
Megan Ahrens says
So true! Very encouraging! I an definitely experiencing these thoughts as well. Thanks Katelyn!
I struggle the most with comparing my son to other kids, and then reflecting it back on myself…. He isn’t as big, doesn’t walk yet, doesn’t talk as much as I would like, etc, and it is all my fault, I’m a bad mother…. It is a hard thing to combat some days, especially the sleep deprived days!
Sharee, it is a struggle!! Seriously. I struggled with feelings of ineptitude in my new role as a mother for… well… I still do sometimes! But, seriously, learning to not care how I measure up or compare against others has been the most liberating. And to remember that each child develops at their own speed. I had twins to remember me daily not to compare them to another child! Hang in there Sharee, especially on those sleep-deprived days!
Holly Waterfall says
What a WONDERFUL reminder. Those comparison thoughts truly do not (or at least should not) hold any weight in your happiness. So many people state those “i wish” statements over and over again, yet wishing does not change anything. Wishing only causes you to dwell on what you don’t have. It is time that people start paying attention to what they DO have and start appreciating each and every gift they have been given in this life.
Katelyn Fagan says
Thank you so much Holly! I am so glad I got over my pity party a long time ago. 🙂
Heather @ French Press says
I’m with Holly – what a wonderful reminder, and something that I need to be so much better at. I cannot control the success of others, and their success does not mean my failure
Katelyn Fagan says
Thanks Heather! You are so right about others’ success does not mean our failure! Love that.
Very very nice post!! I can completely agree; my husband and I had to learn to love where we are in our lives right now and stop wishing and envying for something we won’t be able to have for a long time. Once we accepted that our lives now were pretty good, and made the most of the circumstances we have; we were much less stressed and much happier. I also think women and mothers in particular are the worst at comparing themselves to others and getting down about it.
Also, on a sidenote; I LOVE Brian Regan so that was just awesome! 🙂
Katelyn Fagan says
Thanks for commenting! Brian Regan is totally awesome and it’s the perfect clip for the post! My husband and I are much happier when we don’t play the comparison game. It’s a depressing game you just can’t win!
Emily @ Words I Wheel By says
I actually happened upon this via the Blogger’s Digest Hop and I’m so happy I did, because I’m quite guilty of comparing. This post felt like I was chatting with an old friend.
Katelyn Fagan says
Aww, you are so kind! Thanks for visiting. Let’s be friends. 🙂