After another night of bad dreams, I woke up tired and disoriented, trying to shake off the dark, pulling myself together, literally curling into a fetal position. I don’t understand the crazy that goes on in my mind. Sleep should be regenerating, not a fear-filled marathon. I’m amazed to hear friends say, “I lie down at night, close my eyes and wake up eight hours later refreshed, ready to run full steam ahead.” (They don’t actually say “run full steam ahead,” but I imagine that’s the idyllic way they start the day).
I swung my legs out of bed, my left foot touching the floor with “thank,” my right foot down with “you,” standing with “God.” “Thank You, God” for another day. Then it began anew…the whirling thoughts: “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not experiencing the night the same as them?” My mind’s in perpetual motion jumping from one thought to another, sometimes connected, but usually, each taking up a separate space. And, I’m aware that not even an hour into the day, I’m already comparing myself to others.
The “comparison game” is often learned when we’re very young. By the time children are in middle school, much of day-to-day life is a continual comparison: “these are the top mathematicians”; “their team took first place”; “your brother is such a good kid, why aren’t you?” Many people believe they’re “less than” because they’ve continually heard that.
Seeing ourselves through a myopic view based on others’ opinions and constantly striving for “perfection” simply batters our self-esteem. We compare our appearances, families, careers, homes, and lives to everyone else’s. Our culture sends constant messages heralding “you need to look, own, act like this” to be valuable. We’re bombarded with social media, sharing where others have been, what they wear, and who they’re with. Even the most secure and confident among us can fall into the pit of “my life is not as good as,” even though we know most of us are pushing out what makes our realities look ideal.
Does life ever feel like a competition for you? Are you envious of what others appear to have? Envy is destructive because it minimizes what you do have.
Acknowledging your blessings and honoring them allows you to move away from jealousy and into appreciation. An endless quest for what others have only leads you down twisted and turning paths that you get lost on the journey. We don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors in the real lives of those who appear to “have it all.”
I remember talking to a man with two special needs teenage sons. He said he never plays the “why me” game. He loves his sons, helps them create a beautiful life, and doesn’t compare them to teenagers who others call “normal.” What is “normal,” “gifted,” or “lucky”? Those labels are things that we humans assign.
- Look in the mirror. Reexamine how you evaluate yourself.
- List your positive qualities (you do you have them).
- Don’t recreate yourself to be accepted by certain people; know who you are, then own who you are.
- Remember that we’re all different.
- Celebrate your achievements (yep, you have them too).
- Find your own way to walk through life.
- Honor your uniqueness and contribution to our world.
Have a self-loving week; you deserve that.
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