Ever catch yourself feeling down after a visit with another mom? She’s better dressed. She’s in better shape. Her house is magazine perfect. Her cookies are the talk of the neighborhood. She’s never late for soccer, always remembers when it’s her turn for snack and makes her kids’ birthday parties the stuff of legends. She’s always got it “all together.” We all do it. It’s part of our human nature to compare ourselves with others. And sometimes, comparison can be a good thing. We can learn from it, grow from it, be inspired by it. Often, however, we are left with more negative responses than positive ones. We suffer from feelings of inadequacy, shame, failure. It’s time to stop, ladies, and give ourselves a break. See comparison for what it really is – an unhealthy habit that steals our joy and contentment.
- Step 1: Let’s get real. Take a good long look at what you’ve got and at what she’s got. If she’s got something – a great workout video, a stack of decorating magazines, a wonderful cookbook – that you can either borrow, or obtain for yourself, go for it. If what she’s got is an interior designer, a part time job at a bakery or a starvation diet, then let it go. You can’t fit her “reality” into your real world. Accept it and move on.
- Step 2: Make no assumptions. Sure she’s thin as a rail. Maybe she was before having her kids. Maybe she’s recovering from a serious health condition, maybe she counts every calorie or neglects her family for the sake of hours at the gym. And for all you know, there’s some other mom – perhaps yourself – that she’s envying right now.
- Step 3: Apply an attitude adjustment. Now that you’ve taken stock of your real world, work at being more thankful for what you’ve got. Gratitude has a way of busting comparison and its accompanying discontent to little tiny bits. So what if your house isn’t picture perfect. It’s a home, where you and family are comfortable and cozy. Guests may have to step over toys or ignore the stains in the carpet, but the atmosphere is warm and inviting. Be thankful for what you have and ignore what you don’t. Also, instead of feeling envious or jealous, send a good thought the other mom’s way. Praise her in person, or to others, or simply say a thank you to her for the inspiration to better yourself. Don’t wallow in negativity. It’s the wrong attitude to have.
- Step 4: Give yourself the praise you deserve. You make a mean hamburger helper. You can take fabric and create new drapes, or a dress, or a doll wardrobe. You sing in the church choir. Your husband thinks you do a great job with the kids and the house. Take pride and pleasure in your accomplishments. It will make the discontent disappear, along with all its fellow negative attitudes.
- Step 5: Learn from your mistakes and short comings. Sometimes, as I said, comparison can be a good thing. Instead of feeling down on yourself, however, because you can’t be as good as some other mom at being organized, or home management, or cooking, invest that energy into doing something about it. Join a gym. Take a class. Read a book. Find a blog or website that can teach you. Become a better mom on your own terms, in your own way, using whatever means you can. Don’t just sit and stew about what you can’t have or can’t do.
- Step 6: Live in the moment. Planning for a better future and brighter tomorrow is perfectly fine. So is remembering the past and learning from it. But if you aren’t really tuned in to the here and now, to the life that’s going on right in front of you, you’re missing out on your real world. And as we’ve seen, there’s a lot of good stuff in that real world of yours. Enjoy each moment as it comes and you’ll find that you’re probably too busy living and loving your life.