Monday, October 18, 2010

Mental Health Monday - 10/18

The Comparison Game

I do it, you do it, we all do it - we've got to stop doing it. You know what I'm talking about. Comparing ourselves to others. This is such an easy, destructive path that noone is exempt from going down. "She's prettier than me", "He makes more money than I do", "Her house is always clean", "He never snaps at his wife", "She has 4 babies and I can't even handle 1!" "I could never save that much money at Kroger."

The possibilities and comparisons are endless and that's just the problem - they are endless. We drive ourselves absolutely crazy when playing the comparison game - a game with no winners. Not only do we tear ourselves down, we put the other person on an unfair pedestal. Guess what happens when we put them on a pedestal of comparison? We look for ways, any small way, for them to fall off from it!

This process deals two critical blows -
  • We diminish our own self esteem.
  • We turn ourselves into a negativity seeker.
How can any of these things be good for us, our family or our mental health? They can't.

So what can we do? Quite simply, stop it. Let's stop comparing ourselves to others. I know, easier said than done, right? Try a few of these to get you started:

1) Recognize that you are the only you. About 10 years ago someone said to me, "Yes, that other girl is pretty but it's possible for you and her to be pretty at the same time!" It was like a light switched on! When someone else is smart/pretty/athletic/good homemaker, etc it takes nothing away from you or your ability in any of those areas.

2) Focus on your positives. You are the only you, that's it - just YOU. You are the only person who can be your children's mother, so stop comparing yourself to other moms. Maybe you didn't lose 20 lbs like so-and-so, but you did pass on that extra piece of cake last night! Your house may not be spotless but it's not being condemned either - ha! Give yourself a break, seriously.  I bet there are some pretty amazing things about you that even you have to admit are there.

3) The grass is never as green as you think it is on the other side. She may look like she is perfect, but if I can promise you anything it's that she's not. We all have struggles. She/He may not struggle with the same things you do, but, despite appearances, everyone has a struggle (or two). Be thankful for your life and your struggles and not theirs. Trust me on that one.

4) A little humor goes a long way. While your friend's children are sitting quietly coloring and your children are attempting a Van Gogh creation while nobody is looking, simply think to yourself, "Well, at least I don't ever have to worry about having boring children! Ha!"

5) Find your self worth in something more than things and appearances. When we define ourselves by how we look, what we have and how our children perform we're going to lead an empty, unfulfilling life. There will always be someone prettier, stronger, faster, wealthier, cleaner and funnier than you are, there just will be. When we put our hope in things not of this world, we leave the pressure of being behind and can truly start living our life with meaning.

This week, let's make a conscious effort to stop comparing ourselves to others. Instead, let's spend our energy on things we can control - like saving more money at Kroger :)

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