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Day 26: Comparisonitis

November 9, 2023

“Don’t compare yourself to other people. It doesn’t end well.”

We all know this. It’s so obvious it’s boring.

Yet, when we try and educate our children or coerce them into doing something we feel they should be able to do, we say things like, “Well Eliza can do that and she’s only 3 years old. You’re 9!”

But don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s not healthy.

“Good grief! Why are you behaving that way? Even little Jessica who is in Year 1 doesn’t behave like that!”

Oh no! Don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s really important that you become your own person.

The Practical Implications

Today I attended a training course on parenting. It’s for adoptive parents, to help us deal with behaviours that can arise as a result of early life trauma, and do so in a way that helps the child foster a sense of connection, love and self-worth despite the difficult behaviour.

Today I talked about some of the things I’m struggling with. Then another lady spoke, and I realised the things that drive me nuts are things she would count as “easy”, in light of how bad things could get.

At first, I was tempted to think, “Why do I make such mountains out of molehills? Why can’t I be more like her?” Then I remembered my quest to live joyfully and I thought about how I might use this experience to help me do that.

It occurred to me that I don’t have to live through the hardship of a child swearing at me and throwing things at my head for me to keep in perspective the fact that he refuses to eat with cutlery.

Sometimes I forget how easy it would be to let go of things that genuinely don’t matter. For me, the “shark music” is all about how people will judge him or judge me.

But really, I’m fairly certain that joy is easier expressed when we no longer hold ourselves to every arbitrary standard set for us against which we measure our ability to ‘fit in’. Of course, living joyfully probably means we have to let go of the standards without needing to fight their presence – since that brings its own misery.

So today I’m choosing to learn from someone else’s experience, use comparison to serve as a tool for recognising my good fortune and remind myself that if I’m to be a role model of joy for my children, it’s time for me to stop comparing them to other people in my efforts to teach them about the world.

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