I recently went through an exercise with my counselor that was incredibly helpful for my mental health.
Do you play the comparison game?
Do you look at the lives of other people and immediately feel like a failure? Do you feel like other people have it all together and here you are just getting by?
If you are a mom, I’m sure you deal with mom guilt. So often we get in a trap of feeling bad about ourselves because we feel like we aren’t good enough or performing well enough. We compare ourselves to the highlight real of other moms and other women and immediately decide that we aren’t enough.
If we aren’t careful it is so easy to fall into a place of complacency and jealousy. We let the success of other people dictate not only our mood but also how we live our lives.
Last week when I met with my counselor we did an exercise that helped me re-evaluate the standards I have for myself. We talked about the type of person I wanted to be on a daily basis. We boiled it down to three key components: Brave, Assertive, and Generous. We then discussed different areas of my life and evaluated whether or not I was living up to the standards I set for myself. I found the whole exercise fascinating because I was in fact living up to the standards I set for myself in most areas of my life.
However, as a mom I was still playing the comparison game and feeling like a failure. “My children are driving me crazy. If I were a good mom, I would enjoy spending time with them all the time. Good moms have educational activities planned for their children. Good moms don’t get frustrated with their children. Good moms take their children on adventures.” These were the things I was telling myself, but these standards were ideals that I imposed on myself because I looked at others and thought, “Wow, they are fantastic! I should do that too!”
Don’t get me wrong I think there is value in wanting to grow and improve not only as a person but also as an individual. However, I think it is unproductive when you allow others to dictate how you are going to live your life. Guilt and shame produce frustration and misery. I want to live my life with intention and joy. I will never be the perfect parent, but by the grace of God I’m striving to be the best mom I can be. I cannot do that if I allow comparison to get in the way.