Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Death by Qualifiers and/or Comparison

Taking a walk earlier this week, I found myself going in circles, literally.  It was too hot and humid to walk outdoors and 11 laps around the first floor lobby equal one mile.  I was walking at a fairly brisk pace and there was two people walking that I lapped not once but twice (once I started noticing). When I compared myself to the speed/progress they were making, I felt pretty good.  Yet for all the comparison, did it change one thing about my progress?

So I had to start thinking about comparison.  And here is the deal.  Depending on how you use it, you are either trying to make yourself feel better about who you already are....or tearing yourself down for all you are any given category.  And at the end of the day, comparisons do not effect change.

It starts out innocently enough.  As new moms, we might compare where our children are at in their development.  Fair enough.  However, I remember a story my mom would tell me about my dad.  He was very concerned that a baby around my same age had more teeth than me.  He didn't feel better until mom pointed out that developmentally, I was much more advanced (crawling).  And so it begins.  By the time kids reach the teenage years, a parent might say "my kid is no saint, but at least he isn't as bad as her kid."

Upon further reflection, the things I battle with are the things I tend to "shop around" for comparisons.  This could be age/weight related, how well I do my yoga (or not well), my clothing choices, height, degree of happiness....the list could go on and on.

What is the gain?  Why do you or me need to feel better (or worse) when compared to another person? What does it change for/in us?

with no qualifier or comparison!
Don't get me wrong.  Not all comparison is bad if used properly.  For example, if you are comparing a fruit dessert versus an ice cream sundae....forge ahead.  I would say there is NO COMPARISON but that depends on what you want to accomplish.

And while we can make ourselves feel pretty darn miserable by playing the solitaire game of comparison, there is something worse.

Have you ever had something you did (or didn't) do, something you are (or are not) compared to someone/something someone who allegedly loves you?  (Think - why can't you be more like your _______?)

Even a hero is determined by comparison to others and their actions (or lack thereof).

This was really brought home the other day when I was listening to a podcast called "Where should we begin" featuring the iconic relationship therapist Esther Perel.  She is sharing conversations with ten participating yet anonymous, couples who are seeking to better understand the details of "their story".  The stories all varied but some of the questions asked by the therapist still haunt me.  One line in particular was  "How does it feel to be someones disappointment for almost 20 years?" Another question she asked, and I continue to ponder is "Do you want to be right, or do you want to listen?"  Wow.

That brings me to the "almost" apology.  It starts out strong..."I am sorry" and then it is all taken back with the word "but".  I am sorry but...if you would listened; if you would have told me; if you would have....quick, get rid of any accountability at this point and render your apology worthless.  The same thought for comparison can begin "I love you, but".  ARGH.  What part of unconditional love is missing from this equation?

And finally, if it's not bad enough that we compare, and are compared, when we are just a tad more confident, we qualify what we are saying.  "Wow, you look pretty good for a ___year old".  Why can't we just look pretty good?  Or even better, pretty???  Or, "you look pretty good for someone who just had a baby?"  Again, same thought process.  Maybe if we have to qualify, we should just downgrade our initial assessment to more accurately reflect reality.  How about "Wow, you look ok".  Or maybe just "wow".

Can you imagine what the world would like like (assuming I am comparing it to now) if we spent as much time on our manners, our actions, choosing our words, being the answer to someone else's prayer for that day, rather than worrying about who might be smarter, prettier, thinner, happier (etc etc)?

I can't speak for the masses but I will say this for me, I have got to be kinder to myself.

Until next time,

your pal,

It's all about relationships!

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