We are constantly judging ourselves - too big, too little, too shy, too bold, too slow, too quick, too poor, too reactive. ANYTIME you compare yourself with another, you lose!! Anytime! If you compare yourself and you come out on top, you will feel guilty because you have judged yourself as better. When you compare yourself and the other comes out on top, you will feel guilty because you have judged yourself as not measuring up. There is no way to gain when you compare. It’s an ego game - one you cannot win. You judge your relationships with your boss, your co-workers, your lover, and your family. You compare religions, schools, salaries, cars, degrees, homes, lawns, boats, your spouses behavior, everything! Yes, this is natural, but it gets you nowhere.
Many times in families, a parent will compare the children: “Your brother was always so good at tennis, what happened to you?” “Well, your sister certainly got all the musical talent in this family.” Children do this too however, and especially it seems if there are two sets of parents involved or two households. It could sound like this” “Well Dad let’s me do it at his house!” or “I hate it here! I don’t have to do this at MY house! I want to go home!” Ever hear any of these? We always think life is more perfect where we are NOT. We start thinking this way very early. It never goes away until we become aware of what it’s doing to our relationships and us. If you want to keep love in your life — you must stop comparing. This is the ego’s way of keeping you in the “searching mode” and never in the “satisfied or gratitude mode.”
I thought all marriages should be like the “Dick Van Dyke Show”. The Daddy goes out to work; the Mother stays home and takes care of home and hearth (this was my ideal at ages 12-19). The child is obedient, the parents get along well, they laugh, the hug, they entertain, and they communicate! (You must be smilingJ ) Ideals rarely become reality. Mine was no exception. Then the fantasy changed slightly as I matured. The new fantasy was similar, only now the parents traveled, the Mother was more glamorous, had a career (an important one — with prestige) and the Father was still loving, successful, supportive and made lots of money. (Are you laughing yet?) The fantasy was a dream, a little girl’s dream, carried into adulthood. Nobody knew what my dream was, least of all my husbands (I had two). Nobody knew the picture I carried in my head. If they had, either would probably have told me up front to “forget it”. My ideal had as much to do with expectations of myself as it did with my partner. I put myself in a position, where I had to constantly strive, push, put myself out there in order to live up to that “picture in my mind”. This was very hard work! Took lots of energy. It took me a long time to realize that I was still holding onto my FANTASY of what relationships and family were supposed to be, even after both my marriages ended. It was the fantasy that was keeping me in that “searching mode”. Always comparing what I had, to what I wanted, what I didn’t have, to what I wanted. What others had, to what I wanted.
Marriage is sacred and yet today there is little obvious reason for getting married unless children are in the picture. We still take the plunge however and often for the wrong reasons. If you add to this the fact that we no longer have a moral objection to divorce, then there is little wonder that today most people are probing every aspect of their romantic relationships for inadequacies. If you can have anyone, is your present partner really giving you everything you could get? Or if there is a person with whom you are already mystically matched, the one right person for you - have you in fact found this person?
In an effort to ‘explore’ ourselves or another relationship; to have it all, have the best, or find the right one; in the quest of comparing, has this become a justification to be unfaithful? Do we dare to admit that our picture may be perfect, but life is not, and people are not?
My guess is that when you lay the fantasy aside and look at the truth about you and life- that is when you will begin to grow. Life will get easier and relationships will get easier. What is this truth? Truth is what is so. It stands on it’s on without having to relate it to the future or the past. When one compares, that means they need to refer to how it used to be, or how it could be. It is dependent on some other measure. The truth stands alone. Comparing generally gives one a false sense of accomplishment and keeps us on the track of development longer than is needed.
Is it possible just stop comparing yourself, life and relationships to what could be, should be, used to be, ought to be, or won’t ever be and just be happy for a few blessed moments?
Ayah, what a relief - Like a cool breeze on hot summer’s day.
Copyright by Judy Irving, 2002. All rights reserved.
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