Comparing yourself or other people to others can be hurtful
The other day, one of Dr. Phil’s guests was a mother of three, (with one child at home and two in school,) who was also running a family business from home. Her problem was that she was completely exhausted and overworked, hadn’t had a break in years, and didn’t have enough time to take care of herself well. Oh boy, I can relate! I’m a single mother of two toddlers. When I had a full-time job, I was working 50-80 hours a week, and I was always exhausted. Between work and commuting, there wasn’t much time during the week. I took my kids home, fed them and put them in bed. I tried to keep up with housework, then start the next day with less than enough sleep. It was rough! Then I lost my job and became a stay-at-home mother. That is even more exhausting! I am older than the average first-time mom, and I feel it. I can’t even imagine how the mother on Dr. Phil was taking care of her toddler AND running a business at the same time. At least when I worked, my kids were in daycare and I was focused on my job. Can you imagine trying to do your professional desk job while jumping up every couple minutes to feed, clean, change, chase your active toddler? So I read that woman’s story and I was nodding. Oh yes, I want a nap sooooo bad.
Here’s the problem: On Dr. Phil’s Facebook page, the majority of the comments about the woman were shaming her for wanting a break, and most people were comparing themselves to her with her being the loser. Dozens of women were claiming that they could do all of that, and more, while looking great, working out, volunteering, and more…and they STILL had tons of energy. It was like a competition with lots of exaggeration and no empathy. Guess what?! Motherhood isn’t a competition. All those superwomen who were comparing that woman to themselves and calling her lazy, and worse weren’t doing anyone a favor. (Plus, I’m guessing most of them have some big problems that they aren’t sharing 😉 )
Who knows what that woman’s story is? She’s doing two full-time jobs–mothering and running a business at the exact same time. We don’t know anything else about her energy, her health, her family dynamics, her temperament, her spouse, her support system, or any of that. And it’s none of our business. Her life is her life. Those other women’s lives are their lives. To make comparisons and act like everyone is exactly the same, and should be doing the exact same things is toxic. It drags people down, and it ignores our individual personalities and strengths.
To compare ourselves to others is just as pointless. Did we all have the same childhood? The same experiences? The same opportunities? Talents? Luck? No! So we shouldn’t expect the same outcomes, and make ourselves feel bad because we aren’t doing what someone else is doing. Nor should we be shaming others who aren’t doing what we are doing. I wrote a while back about my feelings of being a bit of a loser since many of my peers are doing “better” in life than I am. I could compare myself to my former classmates all day, and I’d just feel like crap. Or, I can look at reality–we are just different and different is not bad. It’s just…different. I can keep my eyes off someone else’s path and just work on mine, and find joy in MY life instead of feeling bad about not matching someone else’s.
When we start comparing people’s lives, there isn’t a whole lot of good that’s going to come out of it, because someone is usually going to be on the “bad” side. And when we are comparing ourselves to others…it’s usually going to be us. Have you ever gone through a day feeling worse and worse about yourself as you focus on what someone else did that you didn’t? Or something another person has that you can’t afford? That person has a nicer house, that person has a good-looking spouse, a better job, a more impressive degree, nicer hair, a better figure, more friends…. If you keep going, you can really destroy your mood, and honestly, what’s the point of doing that? Will it get you the things you want? Nope. The things we tell ourselves matter and have a strong effect on our emotions and our energy. Wouldn’t it be much better to forget comparisons and just focus on where you are going? I think so! I’m done comparing myself with others, and if I find myself starting to do it, I’m going to redirect my thoughts to what *I* am doing to reach my own goals!