I have an ugly habit. Well, admittedly I have many ugly habits, but one particular I’d like to examine today. I have a horrible habit of comparison, followed by the noxious feeling of envy and jealousy.
Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
It’s rather shameful to admit this tendency of mine, as I have a lot to be grateful for, and am by almost any standards incredibly lucky and blessed. I have no reason to want for anything more in my life, talents, or possessions.
Though I’m very aware of the blessings and undeserved privileges in my life, I still haven’t ever been able to shake the feeling of coveting others’ (fill in the blank) gifts/bodies/talents/possessions/opportunities/lives. This feeling rears its ugly presence in my mind and ego whenever I begin to doubt myself, or feel that I’m not “measuring up” to some standard I’ve set for myself or perceived another to set for me. I have written a lot about my struggles with perfectionism in my life, and the quintessential “all or nothing” dreaded mindset that has kept me (and currently keeps many of you, as well as my clients) stuck in the muck and mire of not doing anything. I am very self-aware of my own weaknesses in this area, and it still takes a concerted effort to not dwell in perceived failures, or manifest challenges as failures, because intellectually I know they are not.
But that doesn’t always shake the feeling. And in the past few months, I’ve been noticing and expressing my feelings about a lot in my life, as I’ve dealt with personal struggles not fit to share in a public forum. Safe to say, life has been a bit rocky in certain areas.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy”? My best friend shared that simply stated truth with me a few months ago, and it’s hung around in my mind like a persistent tune each time I catch myself coveting.
How often do we examine another person’s life from the outside and long for whatever they have or exhibit? I can’t count how often I do this, but I can estimate it’s somewhere between too much and embarrassingly often.
So, as an exercise of honestly expressing my feelings and purging myself of these comparisons (because when I long for each one, I pin it next to my current situation side-by-side and critique my own lack), I share with you my recent list of jealousies and covets:
At the present moment, these are the vain and ridiculous jealousies and longings I’ve felt recently. I look at this list and see it all as so self-absorbed… looking a certain way? Having more money? More time? All these things are so unnecessary and certainly don’t help lift me up, or help me to appreciate the greatness that exists in my life now.
So, as a counter list to reset my mind and attitude, here is a list of all that I am grateful for and recognize as wonderful, this very day, on the flip side of each of these longings:
Amazing how this act of simply writing out these silly comparisons and countering them with a gracious heart and perspective can and has truly reset my mind, if even just for the time being.
I believe that we have the power to make our lives what we want. That our choices and outlook will shape the opportunities afforded each of us. I believe in the powerful “secret” that positive thoughts reap positive actions. And I am trying my hardest each day to remind myself of this very belief as I inevitably fall into my negative human tendencies of comparison.
I refuse to let comparison steal my joy. I challenge you to do the same.