Enough is enough. I've decided to make a promise to myself. A promise that I should have made long ago, and one that every person would benefit from making for themselves.
I promise to stop comparing myself to others.
It seems quite a simple commitment to make in such a small sentence; one that many people will know, that in reality, isn't quite that easy. On the contrary, you may be reading this thinking, "Oh, I don't do that anyway", but let me ask you this: Can you honestly say that you never, ever judge yourself based on what others think of you (whether real or perceived), or that you don't question your decisions with someone else's beliefs or way of life at the back of your mind?
Perhaps you can, and if so, that's wonderful. But for those of us that do need a little reminder, it's time we took back our personal power and lived authentically!
When was the last time you stopped yourself mid-thought; wondering whether "X" would make the same decision? What would they do in the same situation? Should you do what they would do, or go with your own instinct? What would they think of your choices? Would you feel as though you're being judged? Better still, what would society think of your the choices you make?
These are all questions that we need to stop asking ourselves when it comes to making life choices; whether it's a big decision like changing careers, or an everyday choice such as whether you can afford to buy yourself that new book you've had your eye on.
Comparison comes in many forms. You may be comparing:
- Your career and the success you have in the workplace
- The way you look
- Your relationships with others (family, marriage, friendships)
- The amount of money you earn
- How you should 'behave' in certain situations
...and the list could go on...
Now, let this sentence sink in for a moment:
Each time you compare yourself to another, you are taking away your own power.
Personally, I'm not too fussed with material things, such as having fashionable clothes, or the latest hairstyle. Comparing myself to someone based on what I have or don't have, is not an issue for me (thankfully). For example, I couldn't care less about owning a big fancy house; that's not what's important to me. I am however, happy for anyone who is able to have this for themselves, if that's what brings them joy.
For me, at this point in my life, comparing my parenting choices to those of others (as well as what is 'expected' from society in general), is my greatest challenge, and one that I intend to put a stop to right now. The choices I make daily as a parent, is what I struggle with the most; even though in reality, I shouldn't. The fact that I've been a parent now for almost thirteen years, have three children, and several years of early childhood education training and experience up my sleeve, still doesn't seem to stop me from questioning my choices at times; simply because I am comparing myself to others, or wondering whether or not my decisions are 'the best thing to do' in societies' eyes.
So, for anyone who finds themselves guilty of comparing themselves to others (in any form- not just parents), I ask you this:
Why do you allow yourself to do this? What makes you think that you are not capable or knowledgeable enough to make the best possible choices for yourself (or your children) without comparing yourself to others? Why do you even think that others would be judging you anyway, and if they are, why does it matter so much?
In my situation, there is quite a simple answer to this question. It's because as a parent, I want the absolute best for my children; that's a given. The choices I make however, should not be based on whether I think others would agree with me, or how other people might think or feel about my decision. I am the parent of my children, and ultimately, I know what's best for them, based on how I want them to be raised.
If I co-sleep with my children because it helps me to get some sleep at night (and I sometimes like the snuggles myself), that's my choice. I own that choice.
If I take loved ones up on the offer to babysit my children for the night so my husband and I can go to the movies, that's my choice. I own that choice.
If I enrol my children in daycare because I believe it is actually beneficial for their learning, that's my choice. I own that choice.
And finally (this is a big one that I've been made to feel guilty about), if I want to go on a holiday and leave the kids at home with their Dad while I'm away, that's my choice. I deserve a holiday and I own that choice.
It's also important that I acknowledge the times where I don't have the answers, or when I'm having a challenging time.
When all I feel like doing is crawling up in bed and sleeping because the kids have kept me awake all night, that's okay. I'm allowed to feel that way.
When I sit my toddler in front of his favourite movie or give him the iPad to 'keep him entertained' so I can have a moment's peace to fold the washing or heaven forbid, go to the toilet, that's okay. I'm allowed to give myself some space.
When I'm so flustered from lack of sleep, trying to work from home, and having a nagging teenager, toddler and baby all wanting my attention at once, that I fall into a heap and have a good old cry, that's okay. I'm human.
Obviously, these examples are based upon my personal situation, and are relating to parenting, however, this same concept can be adapted to any situation where you wish to take back your power and stop comparing or questioning your life choices. After all, who is in charge of your life? Is it society? Friends and family around you? Or you?
I promise to stop comparing myself to others.