When you’re parenting your kids, you really should pay attention to the lessons you’re giving them.
One of the things I pay attention to is if I’m saying this to Bella, my daughter, then my question to myself is, am I practicing what I’m preaching? As parents a lot of times we’ll say stuff to our kids, and we’re not practicing it. We’re not doing it ourselves. I’m just saying stuff to her that I expect her to do, but I’m not really paying attention to whether I’m doing it.
So, the other day the big parent lesson from me was, don’t compare yourself to other people.
She came home one day and she was upset because she wasn’t able to finish a math test and some of the other kids were. I’m always saying to her, stop comparing yourself to other people, because when you compare yourself to other people, then you’re only trying to achieve that level. That’s it; when you reach their level, you feel like you’ve arrived.
Your level could be better. Better for you, that is. Neither level is good or bad – the best or better – their level is theirs, yours is yours. There’s no good/bad/excellent comparison of their level to your level. No comparing at all. But your level is something else. Your path is something else. Your best is yours and you could miss it trying to achieve their level. Your limits could be longer, stronger, bigger for you – whatever it may be. They’re different. Your limits are different from theirs are. We miss out on being our best, my best, your best.
I tell my daughter this stuff, and she listens, which is great. But then I started realizing, you know what? Am I walking the walk? I’m talking the talk, I’m being a mom, but am I walking the walk?
I have a few different ages in kids. I have two 24-year-old boys or men and then I’ve got a 16-year-old girl and Bella, who is 8 years old. One of the things I learned was that kids learn by example. They learn by watching. A million things can come out of your mouth, but their biggest lessons are learned by watching you – and that’s kind of scary to me.
I try to watch what I’m doing when I’m around my daughter and really around people in general. Everyone is learning from what I do – what you do. People learn by example and I want to be the best example. Also, what I do every day becomes a habit and I want to have good habits that go along with my morals and values.
So how do you stop comparing yourself?
Play It All the Way Through:
First you have to pay attention to what you are doing so you can catch yourself and stop comparing. I catch myself comparing myself to others, especially at the grocery store, or at one of the high-end organic food stores. You see people walking. You’ve got the mom and the dad, and he’s holding the baby, and then you’ve got the kid in the cart and the other kid’s walking along. She’s physically fit and he’s physically fit, and they’re laughing, and he’s helping her with everything.
I’ve been married three times, so I’m watching this going, “Wow, what did I do wrong? I should’ve stayed married the first time or married the second time,” or whatever it may be I would say in my head.
But I’ll tell you what I’ve learned to do. I’ve learned to play it all the way through. If I’m going to take this woman’s life, I’ve got to take it all. I don’t know if she’s in debt from buying all this organic food. I don’t know if she’s in debt from the Mercedes she’s probably got in the parking lot or her 10-speed bike. I don’t know what’s going on.
She could have all sorts of things – things that she might overcome, but again, issues that I don’t know about that are going on in her life. She could like chocolate ice cream, she could like a million things, but I’ve got to take it all. In order to step into her life, her shoes, I’ve got to take it all. And you know what? I don’t know if I want it all. But I know I can’t cherry-pick.
That’s what helps me stop comparing myself to other people, because I start to look and go, I’ve got my own challenges, my own issues that I need to be able to accept and be okay with. I don’t want hers. I don’t want hers at all. That’s what I’ve learned to do.
So, play it all the way through. Play out the whole scenario of that person’s life and some of the hiccups and some of the things that could be involved that I’ve got to take on if I’m going to take this beautiful picture I’ve painted of this family in this high-end organic food store.
That’s one way I stop comparing myself. I stop and I go, “You know what? I’ve got my four kids and I’ve got my beautiful Jeep Wrangler that I love. I’ve got a wonderful husband.” I start thinking of the things I’ve got to give up to take on this woman’s life because she’s got an inkling of something, and I’m comparing myself to her. I don’t know what’s going on in her life. I’m trying to compare apples to apples and trying to figure out what my deficiency is, “Why don’t I have what she has?” That’s a poor game to play, so I get out of it real quick. I play it all the way through and then I get out of there very quickly.
Accept Who You Are:
Accept who you are. Accept it all. The bumps, the bruises, the ups, the downs, the three marriages, the kids from different fathers, the accident you had two weeks ago, the fact that you got fired, the fact that your boss doesn’t like you – whatever it is, accept it all. Good, bad, ugly. Accept who you are. You are unique. God has put you here for a reason, and you have a purpose, and that purpose is achieved by being on the right path – yours.
If you catch yourself comparing – get off their path and get on yours. I’ll tell you something: when you get on your path, you’re going to see that your path is pretty nice. You’re paying attention to the bruise on the apple; turn that apple over and you’ve got a nice red apple on the other side that you can bite into.
I always think about that movie It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s a great movie – I like to watch the beginning and the end because the end is where you get the lesson.
I am going from memory of the movie, but I remember that when he tries to kill himself, the angel appears and says, “Hey, this is what your life would be if you weren’t around. Look at these people. So-and-so would not be here. He would’ve drowned. This one wouldn’t have got the loan and they would’ve lost their house.”
I don’t remember exactly, but I know in It’s A Wonderful Life, that man affected a lot of people’s lives. He thought he hadn’t done anything. It was a beautiful ending. An angel got his wings. Watch that movie. If you haven’t seen it, watch the whole thing. If you’ve seen it, go on YouTube, watch the beginning and the end and get that lesson again.
Accept you. You’re unique, and you have made a difference. In your life, your path, you’ve got more work to do. If you’re still breathing, if you’re topside, if there’s not a tombstone out there with your first and last name and an end date; you’ve got work to do. Stop comparing yourself to other people and get to work.
Work on What You Don’t Like:
Remember the family at the high-end grocery store I mentioned earlier? I was admiring “their perfect marriage and family” – what I was thinking my marriage is not. Okay, so what don’t I like about my marriage? What don’t I like about my relationship with my husband? What don’t I like about my relationship with my kids?
Work on your stuff. Work on it. Figure it out. Go online. Get a therapist. Take a cooking class with your husband. Take a dance class with your husband. Go hiking with your kids. Take that 5 minutes with your daughter to do math on the computer. Work on the relationships that you want. Do it.
Then start thinking about the good things. Start thinking about that day you spent with your husband, that day you spent with your kids. You’ve got it already. You might not have it 24/7, you might not have it at that moment at the organic high-end food store. Maybe your kid is giving you a hard time at the store that day you are comparing and you’re arguing with your husband. But you’ve certainly had good moments, and if you keep working on it you will have more. You’ve had moments of it, and that’s what life is about. It’s about moments.
Stop comparing, because you can’t compare yourself to other people. You’re not comparing apples to apples. The lady at the store that I was comparing myself to could be a fruit and I could be a vegetable. It’s not even apples to apples. I could be steak and she could be potatoes or vice versa.
Get on your path, get on your road, and get on with your purpose. Take action, and stop comparing yourself to other people.
I have to remind myself all the time and I do these three methods and much more. It takes time, and it’s all right if you catch yourself comparing when you see someone riding around in the Lexus you want and you go, “Oh, how come I don’t have that…?” Stop. Put up a “Big” stop sign and try one of the three methods. If they don’t work, try something else. Every bit of knowledge that we need is within us. We need to just access it and find it and use it, because we’re fully equipped. We’re like the top of the line, the best version of the car. You’re the luxury line. You’ve got the power steering, power windows, high beams, low beams, whatever. You’ve got it all.