It is said that comparison is the thief of all joy. I'd have to agree. Whoever said that was a very wise person.
I belong to a decluttering/housecleaning group on Facebook and the challenges ask that each person post a before and after picture of the room/area being cleaned/decluttered to the group to share their "ta-da" moment with the group. This is a great idea to get the encouragement we need to keep going, get virtual high-fives over a job well-done, and to have proof that it was clean at one time, too!
I'm a week behind, but we'll just pass right on by that little fact.....
The problem I'm seeing is that the pictures do a whole lot more than encourage.
For some, they transform their entire feeling about themselves as they see what a big job they had tackled and succeeded at carrying out. For others it's a way to ask other women for ideas on how they could decorate/store/use such-and-such in their homes. for still others it's a great way to show their kids what a good feeling a clean home brings.
Then there's the dark side.
I won't share anyone's specific post, but the basic gist is, "I love seeing everyone's clean and decluttered kitchens, but I see them and look at mine and get depressed because mine is so (insert any of the following here: tiny, old, outdated, gross, overwhelming, super-small, dingy, etc). So, I won't be posting any pictures of my kitchen overhaul because it's too embarrassing compared to all of yours."
The sad part of our society is that we could take that exact statement and insert a different dilemma, and it would be spot on as an insight to the woman's psyche.
"I love seeing everyone's weight loss journey, but I see them and look at mine and get depressed because mine is so (insert any of the following here: small, uneventful, not big enough, I've gained instead of lost). So, I won't be posting any pictures of my weight loss overhaul because it's too embarrassing compared to all of yours."
"I love seeing everyone's ideas for what to do when your kids are making poor choices, but I see them and look at mine and get depressed because mine is so (insert any of the following here: unteachable, rebellious, overwhelming, obstinate, etc). So, I won't be posting any pictures of my kids because it's too embarrassing compared to all of yours."
or even this:
"I love seeing everyone's goals for the New Year, but I see them and look at mine and get depressed because mine is (insert any of the following here: undoable, really a pipe dream, I know I'll just give up on it anyway, something I really want but would never say out loud). So, I won't be posting any pictures of my New Year's resolution/goal because it's too embarrassing compared to all of yours."
NOW HEAR THIS! WORDS HAVE POWER!!!
Did you hear it? Listen again...
W O R D S H A V E P O W E R ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
What I mean is that, by comparing ourselves to others - saying we're embarrassed by what we have, what we don't have, how we look, how we lack in self-control - it sinks in and changes how we see things. I'm pretty passionate about this because for years I did the same thing. I still do sometimes, and I have to stop myself from going down that road. Please stop. Please look at what you HAVE...what you ARE ABLE TO DO...what you LIKE about yourself...and be thankful for those things.
Another caveat - I'm married to an Eeyore. I love him with all my heart, and he's the perfect man for me (seriously - other guys I dated would *SO* have given up on me long before this! :) ), but he is a pessimist from the word go. He's this santa:
He has great reasoning, and means the best, but he just always sees the problem and not the joy. (he's working on that. ;-) ) So, if that's you....here are some ways to turn the Eeyore into a happier Eeyore:
1) Walk around your house and make yourself look beyond what you *don't like* and take pictures of what you *DO* like.
2) Do a google search for kitchens/homes in other countries and compare our incredible mansions to the rest of the world.
3) Take stock of the small steps you're making to get you where you want to go. Celebrate the little things! (she who is faithful in the small things will be faithful in the big things....)
4) print this out if you need a reminder if you'd like. It's just what I say to myself when I'm feeling frustrated and wanting to give up. It works for comparison, too...it doesn't matter where you're at right now, but it does matter where you end up. To make the change, you've just got to do it. Stop freaking out...and start being thankful.
5) Ask God to help you conquer your comparison disease.
I'm a Christian. This blog makes that obvious. To know where I'm ending up is a big deal - and Heaven means I won't ever have to worry about decluttering/cleaning my house again!! That, in and of itself, is a huge reminder to not take this life too seriously when it comes to stuff like comparing myself to others. The big thing to help me *through* these times, though, is to remember this: Jesus loves me. He loves YOU. He loves us so much He willingly gave up perfection to come to this earth, and then gave up his life here to conquer death so we could live forever with Him in Heaven. Knowing He's got my back - that He's fighting for me and wants to show off in my life - makes all the difference. He loves us, and He wants to help us.
I just got done giving my son a pep-talk because he has his room to clean before he can get a new iPod. He has the money, and the permission, but..... His room is a mess, to say the least, and the idea that he has to tackle an overwhelming task to enjoy something is just that...overwhelming. I needed to remind him that the enemy of our souls, satan, wants nothing more than to defeat us. To keep us down. To have us tell ourselves over and over and over again that we're not good enough, that we're just going to mess it up anyway, that we won't have the ability to do what others (maybe in our same family) are able to do with ease. That we're not enough. He wants to see us defeated (even if it seems like we're having fun...his sole desire is to keep us from living up to who we were created to be.) Then I had to remind him that God is not pushy like satan is. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows what we struggle with. However, He also knows that we have a brain in our head and can make our own choices. He wants us to see Him for the Good God He truly is and CHOOSE Him. He tells us in the Bible that every GOOD and perfect thing comes from Him. That means that anything good in our lives is His doing!! He may discipline us, and getting to where we want to be may not be easy, but He's wanting to work in us and through us and with us to accomplish more than we could ever imagine being able to do.
So, what are you comparing in your life? Are you comparing your kitchen to someone else's (maybe to say it's better than or less than?) Are you comparing your speaking ability to someone else? Are you comparing your cluttered and messy home to your friend's spotless show-home? Are you comparing your thighs that will always touch no matter what to your friend's thigh gap? Are you comparing your curly hair to a stranger's perfect coif? Are you comparing your husband to the other guy who seems so good on the outside? Are you comparing your faith walk to someone else's more seasoned faith walk?
Stop the comparintitis (com-pare-in-tite-is) and get a jug full of gratitonic (grat-ih-tonic) and see who you are...what you have...Whose you are...and be grateful for the good things in life!
I know some of you more "realistic" people are saying, "but you can't just ignore the bad stuff. It is what it is and it has to be seen." (why do I hear that in my Mom's voice? :) )
You are so correct.
I don't mean to ignore the bad things in life. We have to see them to do anything about them.
What I'm saying is that when we focus only on the bad we only see the bad and we get grumpy and angry and frustrated and give up on life and people. That's not what makes life good. What makes life worth living is seeing the good and doing something about the bad.
So stop the comparison train - blow that sucker up!! Get on the gratitude train instead. And then you can say, "Oh. My. GOSH! Look at her beautiful.... You're so lucky, but I'm so thankful that I can/have...." Taking stock of what's good in your life - seeing the benefits of you who are and the perspective of where you're going makes all the difference in the world.
Have a great day! I'm climbing onto the "Oh. My. Gosh! My kitchen needs to be cleaned" train now!
If you'd like to jump into the challenge with me, you can go HERE to read more about it.
PS: if any of you reading this can tell me how to get my pictures and youtube videos that are embedded the same width of my blog section, I would greatly appreciate your help!! THANKS!