I caught myself doing a not very nice thing the other day.
I like to think of myself as a non-judgmental and loving person. But this time I got a little Judgey McJudgeyPants on someone I don’t even know.
I was reading a blog written by an artist who I follow. She wrote that she sometimes sends her daughter off to school and then sits in bed in her pajamas and quietly waits for inspiration. Sometimes she sits in her bed for hours.
My immediate reaction to this was:
“I want that life.”
Sitting for hours in my pajamas waiting for inspiration to strike is not something I often (or ever) do. It’s not something that would even occur to me.
Why? Well, obviously, I am way too busy for such frivolity!
Have you noticed that you take pride in your busyness? Almost as if it’s a competition?
I will admit that when I hear a mom with one or two kids talking about something in her life, I sometimes think “She thinks she’s busy? I have three kids!” Almost like I have to assure myself that I am somehow ahead in the busy game.
You see and hear it all the time between moms who work out of the home and moms who are home all day with little ones. Moms who have total support from their spouse and those who don’t. Constant, silent comparisons between our lives and theirs.
Deep down, the thought process could be “I’m overwhelmed and I need help”. But it can quickly turn into to “You wouldn’t understand, your life is easier than mine”.
(Tell me you do this too and it’s not just me who has these moments of weakness and JudgeyPants-ness.)
Why do we do this? What good does this do for anyone?
It’s like I want some sort of validation that my life is harder than someone else’s. I want to prop myself up by pointing out that, in my estimation, you have it easier. Can we agree this is the opposite of helpful?
So back to the artist blogger who hangs out in her jammies…I had to stop and question myself. Why the sarcastic “I want that life”?
If I DO want that life, why am I not living it?
It’s a reasonable question. If I actually want that, what is preventing me from having that life?
Why am I saying it in a snarky way and not in an admiring way?
Because I think I can’t have it?
Because I think I don’t deserve it?
Because I think if it’s not my life, it shouldn’t be anyone’s life?
And if I DON’T want that life, why do I feel the need to comment at all?
I’m making two incorrect assumptions here:
1. That person’s life is “easier”than mine.
2. I can’t change my own life.
The snark comes from feeling assumption #2 so strongly that I resent the person in #1.
From pausing to examine my thoughts, I learned a few humbling lessons:
1. I should never assume that I know what other people’s lives are like. I don’t.
2. Insecurity is the culprit. I am putting someone else down to make myself feel better. Just like the “mean girls” in Middle School – even if it’s for a second in my head.
3. Jealousy and comparison can drag me down and fill me with negative feelings. It can also reveal what I admire in others and, if I choose to use it this way, can put me on a path to what I desire for myself.
4. I am in control of my own life. If I want to change something, I am not helpless, I can change it.
What do you think? Do you ever find yourself in the comparison trap? How do climb out?