It's one of the worst habits I have.
Every day I seem to try to compare our lives to others around us.
I try to homeschool like others I see...in blogs, in friends, in some imaginary perfect world my mind seems to create. I try to keep house like books, commercials, and magazines suggest. I try to be a wife as soap operas, movies, and reality television hints at being.
I try to do these silly, foolish things because I compare my life to others. I compare what I have and how I act to how they are and what they have.
And suddenly within an instant of seeing what people make on pinterest, the perfect lives they display on facebook, the blogs that tout the amazingly patient homeschool mother, suddenly my life just doesn't seem good enough. My abilities don't add up to what is required to be a good wife, mother, teacher. We don't have good enough things, I don't keep our house decorated as well as I should. My husband's not romantic enough. My children aren't well behaved enough.
Comparison takes our joy. It takes our happiness. It makes us miserable about a life that should make us happy down to our very core.
We are after all so blessed beyond measure. Blessed with things and love God gives us that we don't in any way deserve.
By comparing my life to others I diminish God's ability to give me what is perfect for our situation. In a way comparison is throwing back into God's face what he has given us. Saying it's not good enough. That what we have in mind surely must be better than what he came up with.
And seriously, when put like that, how dumb does it sound?
I decided to blog about this when I came across some articles on Pinterest titled things like "20 things to do to be happier each day" or "4 things that will ruin your homeschooling". I'm not linking to them because there is absolutely nothing wrong with those blogs and are written my wonderful women.
But the bullet point each article contained that said something generic like "don't compare your life to others" left me wanting more of an explanation. I mean, that I know. I get it. But the hard thing for me, the obstacle I struggle with is, "how do you stop comparing?" How do you make your views and your life be good enough for you?
To stop comparing, these are some things I have done:
*Take a Facebook break. I think the time period you do this for, well, this kind of revolves around your habit of checking it. Do you check it once a day? Maybe go a week without it. Check it every hour? Even going a day without it could break your cycle of dependency on finding out what everyone else is doing. Even sub-consciously you may be sizing yourself up to everyone else without even noticing.
*Make a gratitude journal. I began doing this after reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp and it has so truly helped. Writing simple and yet complex blessings God gives like "light slanting through autumn leaves outside kitchen window" gives me a profound new viewpoint which helps me to see the every day as a gift and to actively seek out and establish blessings for what they are.
*View yourself in a better light. I so often find fault in myself. The other day a mom was talking to me while Emma was in ballet class. She complimented me on how well behaved my children are. I found myself, in looking back to be a humiliating way, talking about how it's because I have them on a schedule and then proceeding to tell her how it's so bad that their on a schedule and how they now depend too much on their schedules. Rather than accept the compliment I had to distort and twist it until I made it into something bad that I do. How weird is that? So seek what you do, and what you do well. Find things that you are good about and bask in them rather than try to find fault in yourself. By doing that we can stop wanting to be like others.
*I read a book recently that said something like "quit comparing your outtake reel to someone else's highlights video". Do you get that? I had this problem especially with Facebook. I would look at someone else's photos of their perfectly dressed children from their most recent photo shoot and suddenly the last bit of confidence I had while sitting in my cruddy sweats on my discount couch in our dusty house, crumbles and I feel inadequate and poor and a failure as a mother. All because I saw a photo. People often times only show what they want you to see. You don't see the bad, the ugly, the tired, the fights. But so often you are shown their best while you're in your worst. Sound familiar? By remembering that their best is not the only side of them can help you to stop comparison and to remember that they are broken people in a broken world too, just like you.
I hope this list helps you. I have gotten a lot better at comparing our life to the lives of others I see. I've been able to say to myself "okay I may not be able to do that but there are lots of other things I am good at" and just leave it at that. I hope today you can squash any comparison going on in your mind and you can store up the joy you have in your heart because of the life God has blessed you with.
Happy weekend sweet friends!