I can’t seem to help myself.
Whenever I see someone with something I want I automatically start analyzing all the ways they are better than me and all the ways I need to change. I have done this now for so long that it is proving difficult to get out of. I don’t know how. I am on this quest to find the part of myself that I have let live in the shadows of inadequacy for decades.
Obviously, the majority of the population has a similar pattern of behavior as myself, which is unfortunate.
We all go online to view, read and like others seemingly picturesque profiles while feeling subhuman in our own realities. This is scary. We are subject to more negativity now due to our instant access to it. Our moods and self worth fluctuate non-stop due to what we choose to click on.
How do we stop the urge to check a notification or stalk an old friend/flame? When exactly did we give up our free will for free followers? Personally, I don’t remember when it took over, but it ends now. I think that the act of comparing ourselves to others is a practice that is as old as time, yet has intensified over the years by our access to information. We want to know that we belong, that we are wanted on this crazy blue marble. The only way we have figured out how to determine the space that is right for us is by checking to see how big our neighbor’s space is. This is where the toxicity ensues. It goes one of two ways; we either feel satisfied with ourselves because our space is much bigger than our neighbor’s, or we feel pitiful because what we have in comparison to our neighbor is microscopic.
Don’t get me wrong, there is another side to this that is beneficial for our growth.
Actually, it’s essential.
When we observe our peers we are faced with a choice almost instantaneously. We can look at them as our comrades or our competitors. It’s a choice. We have the ability to relate to someone else if we are wise enough to see it. Often, we don’t take that higher ground of relating but fall into the pits of comparison. This happens because we are afraid that if anyone excels at something more then we do, we will not be blessed like them, or that there is a limit to how abundant one’s life can be. As if God is keeping tabs on his blessings.
We act like our destiny will be fulfilled by another person. That Cinderella‘s glass slipper is one size fits all.
I’m a Disney fan, that is simply not true.
We are led to believe that if we encourage someone to be the best they can be that it will take away from how “good” we are. Or worse, that someone who seems to be fortunate in life does not need any support or does not know what it’s like to feel incompetent.
Our minds are here to protect us but we will die without our hearts which are meant to connect us.
I don’t know how the game of comparison got so popular. It’s the only one I know of that the more you play the more you lose. It is a race with no finish line.
So how do I become more compassionate?
Remember how I mentioned that I am a Disney fan?
Let me present Exhibit A
I know it’s blurry and my brother and I are adorable, but notice the costume. Recognize the character? Yes, it’s Jasmine from Aladdin. She was my all time favorite growing up and not just because her outfits beat everyone else’s, but because my young impressionable mind learned so much about life and, oddly, the dangers of comparison from this movie.
Let me explain.
Aladdin thinks that he is not enough for Jasmine because he comes from a humble background and since she is a princess he feels like he has no shot with her unless he disguises himself as a prince. Again, diminishing his self worth because he is comparing what he has with what others have. In the end, as you SHOULD know, they end up together because Jasmine falls in love with the man behind the facade, the one who isn’t trying to be anyone else other than himself. I’m telling you, there is a reason why Disney is rollin in dough! This message is so potent and timeless while subliminally hidden in a children’s film.
You grow in compassion by realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around you.
We are all trying our best and we only know how good we are doing by the appraisal of others. Since this is the case, if we are stingy in our support then we, as a people, crumble in both body and spirit. We cannot try to be something we are not nor should we reprimand ourselves for not having this ability.
The next time you find yourself wanting to compare your life with someone else’s, Stop.
Take a breath.
Realize how lucky you are.
You have a life.
Spend your time living it instead of dissecting it.
Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
That’s a game you can continually win.