A few weeks ago, I came across this saying on social media: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” To say it struck a chord with me is an understatement. For as long as I can remember I have been a comparer; I have compared everything in and about my life and myself to others and what I perceive about them. I think we all do this, and as a military spouse it can be particularly difficult to not to fall into this trap.
Military life comes with its own special set of circumstances and challenges like deployments, PCSing, starting over in friendships, new schools and new jobs. And doing all of this repeatedly is hard! At least it is for me. I find myself looking at other wives and hearing the little voice that resides in the six inches between my ears saying, “Look at her…. she’s got her ducks in a row! I bet nothing fazes her. Hair done? Check. Clothes and accessories looking good? Check. Calm demeanor and smiling? Check.” But really, what do I know?
It is so easy to look at someone else or their Facebook page and think everything is perfect sunshine and roses. But truly, I have no idea what they might be struggling with. In the moment that I assume and compare, I give away my joy and am not being nurturing or kind to myself. I’m just creating more stress. I’m also not being fair to the people I’m comparing myself to – it’s all-around damaging.
I’m working hard to take steps to stop when I start feeling my need to compare myself kicking in. These are a few steps that are helping me practice loving myself and accepting all the things that make me, me:
- I stop my train of thought and remind myself that I don’t know anything about the other person or their situation.
- I count my blessings. Gratitude never fails at putting things in perspective.
- If the situation warrants, I introduce myself or share a kind word with the person I’m comparing myself to. In some way, this reminds me that they’re only human, too.
In the sometimes-chaotic moments of military spousedom it is easy to forget that I don’t have to have it all together all the time. It’s normal. However, I will continue to stop, take a breath and practice loving kindness toward myself. Will you join me?