Why do we constantly compare our lives to others?
For my first real, official blog post (eek!! How exciting that is!) I wanted to write about something that I have struggled with most of my adult life, especially as a single mom- the act of comparing ourselves to others.
Compare, compare, compare- to some extent we all do it. Our lawn to our neighbors, our car to our co workers car. In our digital age where we are exposed to so many lavish extravagant lifestyles, so many beautiful highlight reels of other peoples lives, it has become so much easier to look at what somebody else has or where they are in life, and compare it to what we have or where we are in life.
We compare without even realizing that we are doing it. It sneaks up and leaves us feeling anxious and inadequate.
An example, I am currently looking to become a first time home buyer, something that I have been working hard towards for the past three years. I have waited patiently and watched nearly all of my friends buy their first and second homes, and I have been so excited because I believe this is my year to join them. I have been feeling good, my income and my credit are where they need to be to be able to purchase a reasonable, cozy house for myself and my girls.
A few days ago I went to a friends house, a house I have been to plenty of times, but this time I noticed how large all of the rooms really were, I noticed all of the beautiful decor in her daughter’s room. I noticed how the living room and kitchen were decorated so elegantly. We talked about her and her husbands renovation plans to make this perfect house even more amazing. And I got that hollow feeling and the voice in the back of my head- You will never be able to afford a house like this. You will never provide the life for your daughters that kids with two parents provide them.
And that nasty thought spirals and webs out to a dozen other negative thoughts.
I can not stand that feeling, you guys. I am SO happy for my friend and I never want to be the person that is constantly bitching about what they don’t have, and so busy focusing on what’s wrong that they can’t see everything that is so so right.
Even though I did not talk about that jealousy out loud, it still dragged me down. I did not feel as excited about the open houses I had planned to go to the upcoming Saturday. I came back to our rental home and couldn’t stop noticing how cramped and tiny my daughter’s rooms were, how outdated my kitchen was.
WHY DO WE DO THIS YOU GUYS?
I believe part of it comes down to expectation- the other thief of happiness. Growing up, I had a clear vision of the kind of mom that I wanted to be. I pictured that I would be married and in love, I would be a stay at home mom of four, with a large two story house, a big yard. I would wake up every morning and make pancakes and drive my kids to school volunteer at all of the events that I could. I would not be worried about unexpected expenses, I would have a partner helping me make big decisions.
But my life didn’t turn out that way. AND THAT IS OK! No this is not the life I pictured, but my life is perfect and amazing in it’s own way. I have two wonderful kids who I love with all of my heart, I have a fulfilling job, I am blessed with a supportive group of friends and family. I experience so much joy and happiness every day, how could I ever be disappointed with what I have?
It is unfair to compare ourselves to other people in different stages of life. Not only to ourselves, but to our kids. I do not ever want to make my girls feel like their mom is unhappy, and I don’t want to teach them to be unhappy with what we have because it is not 100% perfect.
Of course we don’t always mean to compare our lives with others. Like I said, the feeling usually sneaks up on me unexpectedly and unwarranted. So what do you do about it?
Get your joy back!
Acknowledge the feeling, but don’t dwell on it. If you focus on the negative for too long, you will miss all of the wonderful things that you do have.
Crate a space of gratitude. Shift your mindset and center your attention onto positive thinking. Think about how much YOU have accomplished. Jot down five good things that happened that day, and five things you are looking forward to about the next day.
Know that every time you wish you were at the same stage as someone else, you are robbing yourself of the unique experiences you are meant to have with your little ones. Embrace the stage you’re in now and really enjoy these moments. Life changes so fast and a year from now, you will likely be in a whole new space.
Remember that you are enough! Get rid of the comparison and make more room for the joy!
How do you deal with negative thoughts? I would love to hear from you!