I had a bit of a bender over the past week. Not the alcohol/drug type, but the in-my-own-mind, catastrophising type. The type that has me obsessing over what everyone else has and does, and the perceived shortcomings of my own life and how lacking it is. When it is not.
It’s been a while since I had one of these slumps and it snuck up on me, taking me by surprise when I realised what had happened. It started at the bank balance (as it usually does), swiftly moved to the half-renovated house issue, before perching quite comfortably at the junction of ‘you’re getting it all wrong’ and ‘it’s all too hard’ streets.
The slump was driven by my constant looking out – at other people, other lives, other things – and forgetting my bubble – the days, people and moments that are my life. My bubble is my retreat, my sanctuary, my truth. It is the core values that I believe in, the beat and rhythm of my authentic needs and wants. It is my home and family.
For a moment, I allowed comparison to steal my joy and hope.
If someone walked into our homes or lives, telling us we weren’t rich enough, our house wasn’t good enough, or we were lesser in any way, they’d soon be shown the door. Yet, we’re essentially saying those things to ourselves when comparison sets in and we consistently measure our own worth or value by looking at others.
Whether it’s what we have, do or look like, comparison can be a real killjoy.
Even if you come out of comparison with an ego boost, then you’re still measuring your value and worth in an inauthentic and unsustainable way.
We live in a comparative society – we’re asked to compare everything, from brand names to politicians, and then pass judgement. We’re encouraged to be critical – to size up the competition, our surroundings, our lives – and use that as motivation to do more, have more, be more. The emotional tumult that results from it though is toxic to our health and happiness because you can’t win if you constantly hold yourself to someone else’s standards. There will always be someone who has something you don’t or is someone you’re not and can never be.
That’s not to say that striving for more, or for change, isn’t good because it can be. It’s the motivation behind it that sets you up for either success or failure, for happiness or misery. Trying to achieve something for your own pleasure is very different from feeling you need to do something to measure up in comparison to someone else.
I’m climbing back into my bubble – it’s all shiny and colourful and quiet in there. There is calmness on the inside – the world can keep clamouring on the outside without me. I’m happy for everyone to have what they have and be who they are – and I am grateful to have what I have and be who I am.