Comparison: The Thief of Joy

Comparison isn’t unique to parents of children with FASD, but it seems to be a regular theme in many of our lives. We may compare our kids to other kids, we may compare our parenting to other parenting or we may compare our situation and supports to someone else or another family. Most caregivers are not trying to outdo others, they are trying to survive and do the best they can. But we know when we are feeling stressed, or vulnerable, or tired or whatever, our mind can go quickly to comparison. And it doesn’t feel good.

Facebook reminded me of a post that appeared last year in a group I belong to. It wasn’t a group for caregivers, but I found it fits with any comparison. It is beautifully written and I wanted to share it as it may resonate with you in a part of your life. I honour each of you and hope that if you ever feel the thief of joy, you remember these words:

Just wanted to take a minute to really say thank you for this space and everything that is being shared. This is a beautiful group and I can’t wait to see what this next year brings. 

But I also wanted to take a minute to remind any one that needs to hear it, that you aren’t behind, you don’t need to go all out, or feel like you aren’t measuring up with other people’s projects and adventures. It will rob the beauty from your own adventures. I know it can leave you, me, anyone with that yucky little feeling that you are failing. 

And I know the other end when you’ve worked on something crazy amazing and can’t wait to share! You should be proud! So please keep sharing your latest debacles, your half attempted thrown together projects, things you’ve missed, your mishaps, your triumphs, your happy families, your magical artistic masterpieces, your hella crazy skills and ideas, all of it. 

But if and when you need to hear it, remember not to compare yourself to any one else. This is your journey and use this group for support and inspiration.

And then I came across a post from Finding Joy about how we judge ourselves so harshly against others which gave examples of flipping the script. 

We think things like:

She’s got it all together. Her van is clean. I need to step up my game. And then we judge ourselves harshly. Maybe her van is clean because that makes her happy – it’s not a judgment about us.

She runs every day and only eats organic. I’m just not good enough. It’s not about being good enough. That is HER journey.

He’s successful. Why can’t I do what he does? His timeline is different than yours.

The article suggested to do the opposite action of what we may feel like, such as loving the post that looks perfect or cheering on our friends when they accomplish something. But I see caregivers doing those things, but still feel that thief of joy. So what can we do?

Here are just a few ideas, strategies and tips I came across that you could try:

  1. Invest, Create and Care for Yourself.
  2. Accept Where You Are.
  3. Remind Yourself of What You Have Done or Are Capable Of.
  4. Be Your Own Ally. Give Yourself Pep Talks. Soothe Yourself.
  5. Flip Your Internal Script or Narrative.
  6. Use Your Energy For Believing In Yourself.
  7. Turn Comparison into Inspiration.

I wrote in a previous post about some things I did last year which helped me. I curated my social media. I stopped following accounts that didn’t make me good and I started following more that inspired me. I also created a folder of accomplishments and positive words. I still catch myself, but I am faster to rebound now I am aware.

More than anything, for most of us, these feelings are temporary. It will pass. Our lives are difficult enough. If you don’t have friends or family who will understand, practice self-compassion. If it doesn’t pass, and you can’t move past comparing, it may be necessary to reach out to a professional to help guide you.

I do hope knowing that many of us go through this can help you not be so hard on yourself. Give yourself the same grace you give to others. You deserve that.

2 thoughts on “Comparison: The Thief of Joy

  1. Ab says:

    A very timely and wise post, Yvonne. Thanks for sharing this. It is so hard, especially during the most challenging times with our kids, to not be tempted to compare them or ourselves with other kids and parents. But it is, as you noted, a futile and joy-depleting exercise. Kindness with our kids and with ourselves is the best way forward. Hope you and your daughter are doing well! 🙏💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • our sacred breath says:

      It’s an interesting dynamic. The other thing I’ve noticed lately is caregivers are sometimes just looking for solidarity not advice … and people give advice. For me, then I begin to doubt myself because I feel like I am being judged. I have to work really hard at it some days. I think more so when I’m depleted. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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