“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt
I have never been one to compare myself to others.
It’s just not part of my personality. I’m already a bit different than most Moms who live near me since I’m a Yogi, an Introvert, a Reader, a Crafter. I’m happy with who I am.
When I had kids, though, I was surprised to find that I suddenly developed a part of my personality that I didn’t even know existed: I started comparing myself to other Moms.
When I went over for a playdate, I’d see toys arranged in beautifully labeled containers. Other people’s houses were neat and put together, why wasn’t mine? I’d wonder what was wrong with me. Why didn’t I have it together?
Comparison is one of the quickest ways to make yourself feel miserable.
I’d go home from these playdates feeling like a failure instead of being happy that I had someone to chat with. I’d focus on the things I was lacking. Was I a good enough Mom? Did I need to be more organized?
Sometimes I wasn’t even comparing myself to a real person. Do you do this, too?
I’d compare myself to my idealized image of how a Mom should behave, look, and accomplish. That was the most damaging.
These comparisons made me doubt myself and my abilities to be a great Mom.
The doubt would eat at me and create problems where none existed.
Don’t let comparison do this to you, too. I came up with some strategies that have really helped me avoid the Comparison Monster.
Here are some my favorites. I hope they help you as much they’ve helped me!
Avoid Situations That Trigger You
To keep yourself from getting bitten by the Comparison Monster, first, try to avoid it in the first place.
Prevention is always so much better than a cure. To prevent yourself from sliding, first know what makes you feel this way. Is it Social Media? A particular person? A blog with stunning images?
If there are things that you can easily avoid, it’s okay to do this. I have unfollowed several people on social media that have triggered me. I still enjoy these people. They’re still my friends. But for a few years, I had to unfollow them while I built up my own confidence.
Give Yourself Credit for the Progress You’ve Made
Whatever your journey, I can guarantee that you’ve made progress.
I had a coach who once gave me the best advice. Instead of comparing yourself to others, she advised me to compare myself — to myself! How am I doing compared with how I was six months ago or a year ago? Have I made real progress?
The answer is always yes! Of course I’ve made progress. I’m still not perfect, but in whatever area I’m struggling with, I’ve learned and grown. Perhaps I’ve simply learned what NOT to do. Hey, that’s still learning!
If you struggle with this, I’d suggest journaling about your progress. Read here for an article on how to journal. Trust me, it’s life changing.
Be a Life-Long Student
If you’re having problems in a certain area, now is the best time to be alive. There are online classes, community courses, books, podcasts, blog posts…on every topic imaginable!
You can learn the skills you need that you admire in others. Whether it’s being organized, parenting, cleaning, dressing, earning more money, you can learn how to do it.
For example, one thing I struggle with is decorating my house. Last year I took on an online class on home decorating. The class is teaching me how to create a beautiful home that I love. It’s not a fast process to learn new skills, but it’s incredibly empowering and can change your life for the better.
To learn how I became a better parent, click here to read about my process of learning how to improve my parenting skills.
Keep learning and growing. It’ll make all the difference.
Use Comparison To Help You Grow
Sometimes comparison can be a good thing. I believe that all emotions are there to help us. If you look at someone and feel lacking, perhaps it’s because there’s something in your own life that you need to fix.
As mentioned above, there are so many opportunities now to learn and grow. You know in your heart if the person you’re admiring has something that you need to work on.
You can do one of two things: 1) Admire your friend and feel bad about yourself, [not recommended!!] or 2) Use your comparison as an opportunity to grow and improve.
Think about how empowered and great you’ll feel about yourself if you use comparison as a way to move forward. Instead of falling into a depression by feeling bad about yourself, you can see someone’s success as motivation for you to improve and learn so you can be successful, too!
Write down your new goal. Think about little actions you can take to move your forward so you can also be successful in that area.
Admit Defeat and Move On
There may be things that you’d love to have, but they aren’t truly important to you right now.
For example, you may want to have a beautiful home with lovely furniture, but if you have young kids, this may not be in the cards right now. You may need to let this comparison go and move on, acknowledging that this isn’t the season in your life for a perfectly decorated house.
It’s okay to let things go. You can’t do everything. Life is about prioritizing and doing things that work for you.
To keep the Comparison Monster from ever entering the room, it’s helpful to cultivate feelings of gratitude. How can you even start comparing ourselves to others when you feel incredibly grateful for the things you already have?
Cultivating more gratitude in your life doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It can be done verbally, in the form of a prayer. It can also be done quietly, listing grateful thoughts throughout the day as you notice them.
I like to have a dedicated journal to write down the things that happened throughout the day that make me feel grateful. Even on really challenging days, there are always things to be grateful for. I find the more challenging the day, the more important it is to write down the good things that happened (or the bad things that didn’t happen!)
Wishing you success on this journey. The Monster won’t be tamed overnight, but with practice and work, it can be conquered.
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