When it comes to comparison I think we are all guilty. Anyone who has never compared themselves to anyone else is a freaking unicorn.
These days I actively catch myself when I start in on comparison and shift my thoughts because what good does comparison do? Nada. It’s mean to that person and myself, it’s isolating, hurtful and negative. There’s a very appropriate quote that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
For years I was stuck in it though. Not only for the usual things like body composition, clothing choices, and career achievement. I was comparing my hardships with everyone else’s and because they weren’t as bad as some I decided I wasn’t allowed to struggle with them.
I constantly told myself to “get the f*ck over it.” My problems were ‘small potatoes’ so I should be able to do it all. I literally wrote that in one of my journals. Talk about unrealistic. I should be strong, happy, accomplished and perfect.
Unfortunately, comparison is the worst motivator. That level of comparison is basically trying to shame ourselves to change. The master on shame, Brene Brown, says “shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” It won’t work.
When things got hard for me, I compared my circumstances to those around me, to the grand scheme of things, to those across the world. I decided I was not allowed to be struggling in my life. My depression was unwarranted and my anxiety silly. Perspective is sometimes a good tool, but when perspective turns into self shaming things have taken a wrong turn. It’s easy to end up in a trap. I told myself I wasn’t worthy of struggling and thus needed to ‘do it all’ which is ridiculous and paralyzing. Then because I hadn’t been able to ‘do it all,’ and I wasn’t able to squelch my hardship or depression I felt even more ashamed. Round and round I would go in my head.
In some ways I think I was trying to preemptively shame myself because I was worried everyone around me was thinking, “What’s her problem, she has it easy.” (Big fear of judgement.)
Who get’s to decide what is ‘enough struggle’ to be worthy of hardship?
We all have different levels of resilience and strength to cope with trials. What is small to one person honestly may be very difficult to another. I believe we all need to honor what we are dealing with, no matter how big or small it is to someone else.
When I say honor I mean not trivializing or shaming ourselves for having difficulties.
Each one of us has gone through or is going through something that has been challenging. That is life. Putting ourselves down for being challenged will never help us to rise up.
Whether we struggle with body image, motherhood, money, career, relationships, self worth or anything else pushing it aside won’t solve it, no matter how big or small. If it’s difficult for us, it just is, there’s no convincing ourselves it shouldn’t be.
We may also look at someone’s life and think, “they have it easy," but trivializing someone else doesn’t help us or them.
Compassion and connection are two important ways we can find peace and a way out together. One thing I learned is we can never do it all by ourselves, no matter how determined, smart or independent we are.