Incomparably You ~ Living above the “Comparison Trap”…

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You were not put on this earth to be like anyone else. Think about that for a moment. Neither were you put on this earth to have exactly the same experience as anyone else (I have always been fascinated by twins, but as an ‘outsider’ to twin life I imagine that even then you have unique experiences that your twin won’t share…twins….feel free to comment! 🙂 ). 

If you are new to my blog, I am a gentle follower of Christ…my posts do not always explore issues of faith, some are to do with art, health and beauty, self reflection, mental health, creative writing, travel, photography, food, music, basically my life ‘As it happens to be’…and all are welcome, but my relationship with Christ is what makes me me. ❤ 

There is an interesting passage in Scripture, towards the end of John’s Gospel of Jesus Christ, where Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples is with Him after His resurrection. Simon Peter is somewhat of an impulsive guy, he makes great claims about his devotion to the Lord and displays a lack of self awareness of his own weakness and sin. Before Jesus was crucified, Simon Peter, just as His Lord knew he would and told him so, denied Jesus publicly three times, after his previous emphatic statement that even if everyone else left Him, he would not, he would rather die with Him. But Simon Peter did deny Jesus, and Jesus still loved Him and died for him. So, after all of this Jesus is with His disciples, and they are eating fish by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, beautifully restoring Simon Peter to fellowship with Himself asks him three times if he loves Him, which is painful for Simon Peter, as he does love his Lord, and yet denied Him three times. Jesus, the Christ then goes on to tell Simon Peter what kind of death he will die, and Simon Peter replies by looking to John and saying something along the lines of “Well, what about him?!”, to which Jesus Christ basically tells Simon Peter what has that got to do with you, you follow Me. 

And so we have it there, in the pages of Scripture a very 21st Century problem ~ “The Comparison Trap”. Whether you are a follower of Christ today or not, you have unavoidably fallen into this trap in your life, perhaps several times. You have looked away from your own life and purpose, looked around you and said in your heart or out loud, “hey, what about them?”. I reiterate: You weren’t put on this earth to be like anyone else around you, or to have exactly the same life experience as another person. And I say this with love, and through experiencing the hurts that such comparison can bring. 

So what is it that makes you look away from your own life to compare with others? Being inspired by others is healthy, but comparing and sizing up your life against someone else’s is not. What makes you think “it’s not fair”, or “why not me?” or even “why me, and not them?”. What gives you ‘FOMO’ ~ that dreaded, technology exacerbated ‘Fear Of Missing Out’?

Is it your lack of health compared to your friend’s wellbeing? Is it the broken family life you’ve experienced compared with your peers’ happy family experiences? Is it your perceived lack of talents next to that person who seems to be able to do it all? Is it your bank balance, your height, weight, stature, physical appearance or employment status? What makes you look ‘next door’ and compare? Perhaps it is the hand that you don’t have to hold, the child that you don’t have to raise, or the problems that other people don’t have to deal with. 

Or maybe, conversely you are proud of your greater level of health and fitness, of your ‘achievements’ as a family and of having a successful career. Maybe you are the one who is talented and can sing, draw, write, create music, travel, run a business, make amazing things and attract admiring glances that others you know cannot. Are you richer, taller, shorter, leaner, bigger, more handsome or beautiful, with a ‘better’ job than others around you? Do you take pride in that? Do you have that beautiful relationship and that family that you feel sorry some of your single or infertile or bereaved friends or acquaintances do not? 

Sometimes comparison can be good when it leads to gratitude or inspiration, but not if it leads to pride, self exaltation or bitterness, envy, self pity or jealousy. It can be good to realise that you are the one with a roof over your head, and have food, money, clothes and warmth when others are homeless and suffering. This sort of comparison should lead to a deeper gratitude for your life, and a desire to reach out to others to treat them in the way that you would wish to be treated if you were in their situation. If someone has talents that you wish you had, perhaps you can let that inspire you to explore your own unique gifts and abilities. And perhaps more difficult for the heart’s journey, if someone has that child or children when you are unable to, can you be grateful for them, and pray for them, seek to help children who are unfortunate, and be pleased for those who are in a good home, loved and cherished, even if it is something that you do not know or don’t have the opportunity to give as much as you long to. Can you be pleased that the family as the building block of society is thriving among the lives of your friends, even when you find yourself ‘lacking’ in some way. Can you be happy for those couples if you find yourself single and wanting a life companion? Can you appreciate that their lives are not all plain sailing, and that there are blessings that you have that they do not, and that you might have more time and freedom than perhaps they do. 

Our lives are different, complex, unique, and we all have things hidden within our hearts that no one else knows about, so to compare ourselves and our journey’s with each other in a negative way detracts from the richness of our shared journeys. 

Yet, what I write is not a lecture to you of dos and do nots. It is simply to say that there is no one else like you, there never has been and there never will be. With all that you like and dislike about yourself, you are unique, one of a kind, irreplaceable, made for a purpose, loved and the only you there will ever be. You do not have to live in the comparison trap. You do not have to stay wounded there. You can rise high above it and learn to soar as you realise that your life will be lived out in a way no one else’s will, even in the smallest details if not the grandest achievements. 

No one else can give to the world what you can, and perhaps you can help others to find and appreciate that in their lives too. We were never meant to be someone else’s copy, replacement or backup plan. You are incomparably you, so don’t ever fear missing out by not being like someone else or having the life that they have, or even having the life you wished you had. This is your journey, life it fully, right where you are. xxx

 

Quality of Life…everyday….

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What do those three words make you think of? ‘Quality of life’. (I mean in a general, everyday sense. I understand that there are many people who are or have friends or family members who are living through terminal illness, severe health challenges, bereavements and other major life challenges, which require sensitivity and compassion and an entirety of focus, therefore this post is aimed more generally, while my heart goes out to those who are struggling with the daily realities of such life circumstances).

I guess the phrase means different things to different people, but individually I think you ‘just know’ whether you are experiencing it or whether something is amiss. As explored in previous posts, we often don’t stop and realise what we really need to change until after we ‘burn out’ or struggle to survive our hectic and stressful days. 

As someone who has had a long battle with complex post traumatic stress (notice, I leave out the word ‘disorder’, for we are overcomers and survivors of the brain’s natural coping reactions to severely stressful life experiences that were put upon us), severe clinical depression, resulting in for a few years chronic pain, and also generalised anxiety disorder, therefore quality of life is something I have had to think about a lot. 

I am pleased so say that by the grace of God, and with a lot of hard work taking those small and seemingly insurmountable steps every day for years and years, I feel like I am stronger and in a better place. 

So, ‘quality of life’ in an everyday sense….what does it mean? You know better what it is when you don’t have it. And what do you think about? Is it having time to yourself to rest and reflect? Experiencing exhilarating challenges and exploring new places? Having a peaceful family life, or finding contentment in your situation whether you have people around you or are ‘alone’? Is it being able to “enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”? To notice the simple things each and everyday?

It is a challenge that each of us have to take up to consider this question for ourselves, and then to give ourselves the permission to set about doing something about it for our own sakes and for those around us. I have taken the day off work today. I was getting to the stage of feeling like I wasn’t ‘coping’ so well, and that’s not the way I want to live. And I think with all I have been through, and all that you have been through in your life, it is a question that we need to *regularly* ask ourselves: am I living, experiencing a real quality of life, even in the simple things everyday, and if not, what am I going to do to make the changes I need to make? 

For me some of these changes have taken years to accomplish having had the mountains of post traumatic stress, anxiety and depression to overcome. However simple they may seem, these changes are small victories in my life. And as each gain is made, the quality of life adds up over the years, as does our personal resilience to adversity, just as conversely each detriment adds up, each bad habit, each negative element that we allow to continue in our lives unchallenged. 

Some of these changes for me include working on a better sleep routine, and eating more healthily, and looking after my body and mind. Having a time of morning devotions and prayer and seeking God, giving thanks and praying for myself and others, committing my day to Him and being gentle with myself when I don’t manage this and end up rushing. Taking time to slow down and notice the beauty in the everyday, ‘mundane’ things of life and appreciating what I have got. Taking time to create a peaceful living and working environment even if there are challenges in doing this, small changes can make a difference. Taking breaks, being mindful of my breathing, setting goals and plans, and taking the time to do more of what I enjoy, whether it is reading a book while waiting for the train, colouring during my lunch breaks at work, listening to music, giving myself more time so that I am not constantly rushing from place to place, and taking a day off when I need to if I can. 

I am a great believer that the little things in life really do add up over time. What you are investing in today will impact your future and those of the people in your life in some way or another. Seeds of legacy. So take time to make time for yourself, small or big changes that will help you everyday to live more in alignment with what really matters, taking consideration of the foundation that you are building your life upon, so that you are living and not merely existing. Small steps, after all, lead to changed lives as the years roll by. God bless. x