We all compare lives. Whether we like to admit it or not.
We read the blogs, share a coffee and a chat, see each other at parties – and we compare.
“She has it all together and she works/has 4 kids/runs her own business/exercises every day/always looks immaculate/has lots of money/has well-behaved kids/is happy.” Choose your own ending.
I’m here to tell you that comparison is a losing game. As Joshua Becker puts it (and I paraphrase):
“You inevitably compare the best of them to the worst of yourself – because it is the best of them you see and the worst of yourself you know.”
It’s also easy to compare. It gives you permission to say, “Well, I would be able to exercise every day if my husband didn’t work such long hours/if my kids slept/if I didn’t have to clean the house/if…if…if.”
I’m not saying these are anything but valid reasons. But I am saying that comparisons are a dangerous way to view yourself in the world, because inevitably, you will come out on the bottom.
We can’t compare our lives to the lives of others because:
- we are not them
- they are not us
- our kids aren’t their kids
- our partners aren’t their partners
- our upbringing wasn’t their upbringing (even if you’re siblings – we each tread a different path)
- our current circumstances aren’t their current circumstances
- our strengths are not their strengths
- our weaknesses are not their weaknesses
If you do compare lives, you’re comparing apples to underpants; oranges to hand saws; bananas to hammocks. It’s a losing game.
And you will always wind up doing one of two things:
- feeling less-than because you compare your worst to their best
- feeling self-righteous because you’ve compared your best with someone else’s worst – which feeds more into this negative cycle, eventually bringing you back to #1 anyway.
So, by all means, learn from other people, be inspired by other people, be instructed by them, ask them questions, seek their advice – but please, please, please, let’s stop the comparison game. I promise you will feel more at peace, more focused on what matters in your life and a better friend, parent and partner to boot.
Do you find yourself often playing the comparison game? I know I do. But I’m finding that the more aware I am of it, and of how it makes me feel, the less I indulge my inner-torturer. Give it a whirl and let me know how you go!