As we are all aware of by now:
Comparison is the thief of joy.
But I don’t let that stop me! I am incredible at comparison. If there was an award for this… It would be MINE! It’s part of my personality. I’m really good at looking at things critically and figuring out ways to improve them. But unfortunately, my info seeking spidey sense doesn’t have an off switch. I struggle to stop comparing and perfecting. Ever.
I was honing my skills of comparison long before I had kids but if I was good before, I am now THE BEST. Parenting creates infinite opportunities for comparison. While I realize this is generally an unhelpful habit, I’m not entirely sure it’s extinguishable. I think it’s just part of the way my brain functions.
Which makes me wonder:
- Is it really all bad?
- Can comparison be useful?
- If not: is there a cure for compulsive comparing and where can I get it?
My kids are the most complicated, unpredictable, fragile and sophisticated things I ever “owned” that didn’t come with a manual. I like a manual with clear, fool-proof instructions. I may not read it before I use my sewing machine for the first time or try to program the remote or pressure cook in my Instant Pot but I like to be able to refer to it when I run into a roadblock or something goes wrong or when I need to fix whatever I just messed up.
Lacking any formal guide or text, the next best plan I guess seems to be to copy off my neighbor. How is everyone else doing this? What do the experts say? Or other people I trust?
I’m a firm believer that the answer is usually on the inside rather than the outside. Parental intuition is the best guide but when used responsibly, comparisons and research help me decipher and define my own feelings and create strategies that work. Sometimes comparing my life to others’ produces gratitude for the path my life has taken and the people in it. Other people’s examples sometimes inspire and encourage me and give me ideas that I may not have come up with.
When comparing is NOT useful is when we’re looking at that mom on Instagram and wondering, Why can SHE do that and I can’t? See! I have no excuse. When we use the information we glean to berate ourselves and feed our insecurity and perfectionism we are using our comparative powers for evil instead of good. When we turn our perception of others’ lives and accomplishments into our own should or should haves instead of acknowledging the differences in our families, temperaments, and circumstances, we do ourselves a disservice. We are all here on different missions and have different things to accomplish. No one can be you. So, it follows that YOU cannot be THEM either.
Listen in to learn about comparing accurately, what could be the difference between you and clean-house-moms, why it pays to know your weaknesses, and where to look for a cure to compulsive comparing!