March 29, 2015

Comparison is the thief of joy? Yeah, but whose is getting stolen?




Oh! Hello there! What? You weren't expecting me? Well, what a nice surprise then, eh?

To say I’ve been stretched in a multitude of directions in the last several months is an understatement. We got married in October and our wedding came rushing upon us and papa was knee-deep in DIY. And when you’re in the midst of wedding projects and final details you need something to do with all of that "free time" you find yourself with, right? So, why not add a new full-time job to the list? Along with all of the legal matters concerning my mom. And, y’know, blogging. (Okay, maybe "blogging" is more accurate at the moment.) Oy. Veh. But somehow the balls still stayed in rotation [more or less] despite my inexperience at juggling on a professional circus level.


Honestly, though, how do we do it? Really? I know I’m not the only one. I know that the vast majority of us are balancing an inordinate number of things in our lives. Well, it seems that the vast majority of us are. Are we? Are you? And, if so, how are you with all of it? Are you amazed at your own skills? Exhausted? Ready to go off the grid and live in a cabin in the woods? All of the above?

There is no denying that 2014 was a rough year for me. 2013 wasn’t a great dance partner either. And, like many others I’m sure, I’m praying (i.e., PRAYING) that 2015 will be the turnaround year. I’ve experienced a lot in the last couple of years and I’ve learned a lot, too. I’m also pretty sure that there are more lessons percolating in the recesses of my being that have yet to reveal themselves.

Other things that have been happening... in the blogosphere and social media universe, it seems that a long-trending topic over the last many months has been that of comparing ourselves to others. (Well, that and pineapples sure had their year. I mean, what the...?!?) I’ve seen plenty of posts affirming, in one form or another, the fact that we’re all good enough and that we rob ourselves of our own happiness when we compare ourselves to others. True. But one aspect of the comparison game that I haven't seen discussed can be the tendency to feel that whatever we’re going through is infinitely worse than what others could possibly be dealing with in their lives. They have it the best of all while we're left with the worst of nothing. Seems par for the comparison course, yes? But there’s also a potential two-way rub that can emerge on that slippery slope.

It amazes me the extent to which some can make extraordinary assumptions about your life and assume the best in yours versus the worst in theirs. On one hand, I get it. On the other, I envision pulling a Cher in “Moonstruck” and smacking some people - “Snap out of it!” For example, I was fortunate enough to obtain some part-time employment after a looooong dry spell in the job hunt department after getting laid off in March 2013. I was grateful, to be sure, and it served me especially well when things went downhill with my mom. But it astonished me how some would selectively highlight the ease of my job and all the free time available in my work week - saying how I was “so lucky” (while implying they were not, of course) - yet completely disregard the fact that I was struggling to keep the bills paid, feeling increasingly dejected in my hunt for full-time work, along with handling the emotional turmoil of my mother’s illness. Lucky? Suddenly, “lucky” me found myself on the other side of the comparison game getting judged for having/getting “more” in light of their perceived “less.” “Comparison is the thief of joy,” they say? Yeah, but whose is getting stolen?

We all have areas in our lives where we experience feelings of lack. And, yes, comparing yourself to others can be treacherous territory to your well being and easily sap your strength. But I believe it also bears mentioning that it does no earthly good to judge or guilt-trip those you’re comparing yourself to - either in the privacy of your own head or, god forbid, to their face. If someone has something you wish you had then judging them in any capacity for having that something is really just tantamount to judging yourself and that’s not going to inspire you toward positive change. And in the process you stand to rob someone else of joy they have in their life that, by all accounts, you desire in your own. And what kind of sense does that make? That person who makes more money than you do? Maybe they've worked their asses off to put themselves in a position to be financially successful in a way you haven’t yet. The friend who always looks great in their oh-so-slim fitted clothes? Maybe they’re willing to make certain sacrifices in their life that you’re not willing to right now. You get my point. The thing is, our lives are deeply complex, multi-layered, and completely personal and reducing yourself and anyone else to a simplistic lucky vs. unlucky, rich vs. not so rich, thin vs. fat, etc. denies all of us our true depth of being. And it’s in the consideration of those depths and intricacies of our lives where the possibility lies to truly be able to learn what we can do for ourselves while simultaneously celebrating the joys and successes of others.



22 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this great post. Makes me feel that I'm not alone in comparing myself to others. I've been struggling with depression (never had it) for almost 3 years. I go on social media and compare myself to others that appear to be having the "perfect life." Not a good to think of when you're struggling. This depression has affected my work, family, etc. Wouldn't wish it on anyone.

    I feel for you Uncle B. and your struggles as well. So glad that you could share it with us. You've definitely prompted me to do sort of a "share all" with my blog readers. I just sort of disappeared and perhaps I should just "come out." Take the stigma away.

    Didn't mean to make this about me! You just struck a cord in me and I truly appreciate it. xox

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    1. Oh my gosh, Lynn, you are SO not alone in comparing yourself! *Everyone* does it. It's just that we all respond differently to it. I think for some it can inspire and drive. But I think for most of us it leads us to doubt our own worth in some way. And, as you mentioned, it can be particularly difficult in the face of social media. That's why it's important to try and keep things in perspective - another big challenge when you're already struggling. And if resentment creeps into the equation that others have it "better" on top of faltering self-worth it's just taking away from everyone, y'know? And I believe it can drain energies that could serve oneself infinitely better.

      It's also one of the reasons I'm willing to share things more openly. To give a face to the fact that it ain't all pretty all the time in Blogland and to help round out a fuller picture for blog readers. Y'know, just to keep it real, as it were. But, hopefully, it can also serve as an example that life, everyone's life, has its ebbs and flows.

      And, to your point, I think when we're facing struggles it can be easy to "disappear." Sometimes it's necessary for recharging and good self-care but it can also run into self-imposed isolation that can serve to make things feel worse. You know that I support your "share all" post if that's what feels right for you at this time.

      And I don't take your comment as making it about you! At all! Just that you related. And I feel for you, too, Lynn. Know that I'm sending you good thoughts and plenty of big hugs. xox

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  2. Mon Oncle! So great to hear from you again. I'm sure that this year will be great for you. Congratulations on getting married! Regarding comparisons, the trap of comparing ourselves to others is IMHO one of the most spiritually dangerous activities that we all engage in. Many years ago, I was bitching and moaning about some fellow in my occupation who was in my view doing so much better than I was. After a couple of days of this, my Irish redhead wife rounded on me and said "either go and be him or shut up and be you". I didn't like it. But I needed to hear it. And we are still together 28 years later. And I did all right after all, just being me. My wish and blessing for you my friend is to realize that, with the Right One, Lennon was right. Love is really all you need. Yours. Not someone else's. Hang in. Keep the faith. And I can't wait for another post!!!!!!!

    ML

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    1. M. Lane! Great to see you pop up again! And thanks for the congratulations! "Either go and be him or shut up and be you?" Genius! I'll be using that as a good reminder, for sure. You got yourself a good one there with your Irish Red. Hope all is well for you. :)

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  3. Great post. I've been on the other side of the comparison game, too, so that the realities of my life, ones I needed help and understanding about, were ignored and even outright downplayed in service of that person's vision of me relative to their own pains. It can be isolating and invalidating.

    It's interesting to look at comparison as sometimes coming from a place of ignorance and even lack of empathy. It makes me take another look at my own tendency to compare myself to others and my motivations and shortcomings.

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    1. A beautiful summation, Elan. And I fully relate to being more conscious of my own motivations. Thank you for taking time to read and leaving such a thoughtful comment.

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  4. All true and all approved with a nodding Igor!! Best is to appreciate the work and achievements of others or simply focus on your own work. The trick is also in finding inspiring people to follow and accompany on their way (and subsequently letting go of others who pursue a rather questionable way of promoting themselves and highlighting their work) - without the evil way of comparing oneself to them. Hope to see you again soon!! Paris is still waiting for you!

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    1. Well said, Igor! And hope to see you again soon, too! May just be via the blog for a while but always good to know that Paris would have me back. ;) Hope you're well, mister!

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  5. I feel similarly about 2015. Hope this is your year too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmuswTEGF-U

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    1. Thanks, Rory! For the comment and the video. Cheers to both of us for a better 2015!

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  6. Absolutely agree with you on ALL counts...I'm "all of the above" when it comes to balancing, WTF on pineapples (LOL), and YES - I've been on both sides of the comparison game and both are unhealthy. I've been making a conscious effort not to judge others (inwardly or outwardly), and it feels so good. Judging myself however, is another thing entirely, and I need to work on that. Great post, been missing you. xo

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    1. Hi Susan! Somehow your comment slipped past me...? But thank you for taking the time to read and stop to leave a comment. Thanks so much for your continuing support. It means a lot. xo UB

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  7. Hi Uncle B! I've been in and out of the blogosphere for a long while and it's so nice to be back here reading your posts. And what a great one, I must say. I feel everything you've said here... such honest and humbling words. Thank you so much, really.

    Xx.

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    1. Hi Holly! I think a lot of us out there have been in and out of the blogosphere it seems. Although, maybe for different reasons? But lovely to see you here and thanks for the kind words and the compliment. Looks like you have an exciting venture with your coffee business! Conrgatulations!!! xx UB :)

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  8. Love your honest sharing and of course it's the big truth that needs to be said. I always force myself to sign off all social media when I find myself falling into the comparison trap…it's such a wicked game! Wishing you well and truly all the best in 2015!

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    1. Hi Tammy! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! It's a wicked game, indeed! Hope all is well with you! xx UB :)

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  9. Belated but excited congratulations to you both! Great post and I hope your 2015 is a magical one xxx :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Jeska! Lovely to 'see' you and hope all is well with you, too! xx :)

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  10. Ah, Uncle Beefy, so sorry to read all of the hardships you had been going through (I know this is an older post, but I am just now getting to reading anything other than how to get baby to sleep books), you are such a delightful human, I for one will always be wishing you heaps and heaps of success:)

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    1. Hi Miss Tristan, Thanks for the sweet comment. It was so lovely to see you pop up in my inbox! Yeah, it's been a roller coaster couple of years but I'm hanging in there. Maybe these are just my caterpillar period? In any case, I really appreciate the kind well wishes. I hope that mamahood is treating you well! Big hugs! XX UB

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  11. I can't believe it's been so long but your name has been popping up in my head lately!!! I need to catch up on your past posts but I just wanted to comment on this one and say how much I love the use of the polaroid styling on your photo. Fabulously creative. HUGS!!! ~Walt

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    1. Hey Walt! For some reason I never got a notice about your comment...? So, sorry for the serious delay. Nice to see you pop by. As you can see, things have been quiet around 'The Bedlam' but haven't given up despite appearances. Hopefully, more to start coming in 2016. Happy New Year! Hugs, UB :)

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p.s. - Contrary opinions or constructive criticism are also fine but "The Bedlam" doesnt' serve as a platform for random (or anonymous) acts of offensiveness. Rude? Deleted.