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My Journey Through Comparing and Despairing

Comparing, Despairing & Happiness

If comparing and despairing is costing your happiness, you’re not alone. However, you’re the only one that can change this negative cycle. And, FYI – trying to be more like your envied subject won’t bring the contentment you seek.

Does this sound familiar?

Mrs. Stein is so put together. Her kids are well dressed, and she always manages to have a smile on her face.

I study for hours and barely pass my tests, while Shira gives her notes a quick glance and aces every test.

Yes, that inner critic of ours works overtime. It enters our minds without an invitation and leaves us questioning our self-worth. The aftermath of all this comparing and despairing is a host of unpleasant emotions and a shaky self-esteem. But, does it really have to be this way? Is there a way we can modify our perspective and give ourselves the credit we deserve?

Comparing & Despairing: The New Norm

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and a vibrant yellow sun is spilling through your window. You awaken from its sharp rays and jump for joy as you head to the backyard to plant your favorite vegetables. Taking out your tools, you begin digging into the soil making room for the tomatoes, cucumbers, and broccoli plants. Alas, after much hard work, you’re done planting. Standing a short distance away, you marvel at your work and imagine yourself tasting each vegetable.

A few weeks later your plants are fully grown and you’re standing tall filled with pride. You gently touch and feel the different textures of each plant and marvel at their shape and form. The tomatoes are round and smooth with a beautiful shine. The cucumbers are different shades of deep greens and perfectly bumpy and smooth. The broccoli plant is sprouting and you admire its lush green color and it’s perfectly imperfect structure. Reflecting on each plant’s natural beauty you are filled with a glowing pride!

…And Then the Comparing & Despairing Begins:

Imagine for a moment that these plants could speak. Would it surprise you if the plants suddenly started bickering loudly and complaining how the other one is somehow better? What would your reaction be if you saw the beautifully rounded tomato sulking that it wasn’t long and tall like the cucumber? Would you feel a strong sense of disgust and annoyance at the ignorance of their own beauty? This scene would likely bewilder and shock you, as you wondered why they couldn’t each appreciate their inherent and unique beauty.

If you could put your shock and frustration aside, you’d gently point out each of plant’s unparalleled beauty. It would be easy to calm the tomato by pointing out its special shine and perfectly rounded shape. The cucumber, its erect structure with different shades of green that no other plant has, and so on. Alas, you’d hope each plant each plant felt worthy and valued, with their previous comparing and despairing a thing of the past.

Comparing Despairing = Emotional Pain

It’s very easy to fall prey to this “disease” of comparing and despairing. It’s almost inevitable as we are connected to more people than ever before via our social media feeds and the like. But that doesn’t mean that we’re left victim to this disease. If we can embrace our quirks and differences, and remind ourselves that “normal” is relative, we may begin to heal. Remember, what’s normal for you might seem outrageous to others and vice versa. We each do things that seem strange and out of line to the other eye. I might love organizing and take pleasure in a neat and kempt house, while my friend/spouse/neighbor couldn’t care less. I might enjoy hours of time to myself, while my friends thrive on being in the company of others. The part we constantly forget is that all our differences are not just okay but what makes us special.

My Journey Through Comparing & Despairing is Ongoing

Comparing and despairing is a constant struggle for me. I created a mantra to help stop myself from the downward spiral of comparing and despairing.

This is who I am. This is my biological makeup. It’s how Hashem (God) made me. I am a product of, but not confined by my makeup, environmental factors, and my personality.

I repeat this on days when the going gets rough. It reminds me that while I’m a composite of my makeup I am also striving towards positive change and growth.

If we can embrace our own “strangeness” even though it’s so uncomfortable, we will ultimately be making peace with ourselves and feel okay to be ourselves. Only then, will other people’s lives and attributes cease to be so appealing. It’s time we embrace our uniqueness and cultivate true self-worth.


We know you love personal stories, so here’s some more:

Why the Grass Always Looks Greener

Child Loss Tried to Destroy Me But Failed

Surviving a Narcissistic Friendship

What Not to Do: Parenting No-Nos

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About the author: Chavy is a valued member of OKclarity. Connect with her here.

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