Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    



"Comparison is the thief of joy."
         
                             Mark Twain







      Do you have difficulty being happy for someone else’s success? Are you delighted when your friends have a run of good luck? Do you celebrate when your spouse is honored? These questions may have different answers depending on where YOU are in your life at the time. I must admit that sometimes I am envious, and, if I’m honest, sometimes I am downright jealous. Shame on me. I suppose it depends on how we were brought up.

     If you were brought up with a measuring stick like I was, comparison was the norm. In my family, I was told, “There will always be someone better, smarter, prettier than you.” As a young person, that is information we receive without emotion, as we have had little experience. However, as we grow and mature, we learn that those words ring true, but we don’t always have the grace to process them in a positive way. The contradictory message I received as a youngster was: “If you can’t do it perfectly, don’t do it. Always strive for perfection.” This was reiterated and drilled into my head by my fabulous, but tyrannical piano teacher who would tolerate nothing short of perfect. I was being compared to her very best students, and my parents were comparing me to a standard I never actually saw but imagined in my head. Some of you will say, “Grow up. Stop blaming your parents.” I don’t blame them, but I do understand now why it is hard for me to do anything without the comparison voice threatening. 

     Ask yourself the following questions, and then ask yourself what it says about you:

  1. When you and your friend are at dinner, a mutual friend says to your friend, “Wow! You look absolutely stunning tonight.” How do you feel sitting next to her?
  2. When a friend gets a windfall and decides to buy a brand new car cash, what do you say to yourself? 
  3. When you have been working hard to achieve a goal, and your spouse reaches it first with little effort and receives all kinds of accolades, how do you respond? 
  4. When you and your friend are out, and a stranger comes up to him or her and says, “You are so beautiful!” How do you react?
  5. When you are at a party, and your friends give eye contact to your spouse and don’t look at you, how do you feel?


     Maybe this narrative is too raw, but guess what? I am old, and one of the rites of passage is to say what you want (as long as it doesn’t offend or hurt anyone). There’s no place for you to write your answers. The point is to answer them in your head, and then ask the most crucial question: “ How much of this is my ego?”