Comparison is the thief of joy.
– Theodore Roosevelt
It’s a saying that many might think of as cliché but one I see as being absolutely true. It doesn’t matter what the context is, if you compare yourself to others you are undoubtedly going to end up feeling disappointed at best and completely miserable at worst. It’s something we all do– it’s human nature– but it’s worth bringing your awareness towards it and reminding yourself of a few things.
In the online world of chronic illness it can be all too easy to make comparisons. I see it all the time. Instead of coming together, empowering and helping each other there are individuals who sadly fall victim to comparison. Why make pain a competition? What benefit is there to gain from deciding you must be much worse off than everyone else? Or that other people must not have the “real” illness after all?
The biggest problem with taking this view is that you are forgetting that people are selective about what they choose to share online. They are not giving the full picture. So to make snap judgements and to draw comparisons is not helpful at all. I am very honest in what I write about on my blog but I only share a fraction of my life here. I doubt very much you would have wanted to read in detail about the times I have broken down because I was in so much pain. You probably don’t want to know the ins and outs of the difficulties I used to have just trying to move from my bed to the bathroom. I of course have made reference to this time in my life and talked about these things but I kept the intricate details private because this is not an online diary; it is a blog where I share information to help others struggling with the same problems I have gone through. Instead of journaling, I choose to share what I learned from my experiences and what I did to ultimately help myself. It makes much better reading, trust me. However, it can be easy to overlook the struggle and hard work I have put in and just see the improvements. Believe me when I say they have not been easy!
One of the most important things to remember when you find yourself making comparisons is that no one is in the exact same place. We are all going through the same things but we are at different points along the path. If you compare your start to someone else’s middle or your middle to someone else’s end be careful how you view it. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are both at the same point and you therefore must be worse off than they are. Having that mindset makes you falsely believe you can’t achieve the same things. Instead, acknowledge that they are ahead of you, that you want to move in the same direction and learn from what they have to say. Use their success in a positive way. Let it motivate you and empower you to achieve the same.
What do you think? Is this something you have come across? Do you struggle with comparisons? Let me know in the comments below.
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