When I lose focus and start comparing myself to others, looking for differences, it seems I'm either giving my power away by thinking their life is better than mine or I'm trying to feel more powerful or more fortunate by believing I'm somehow better off than them.
But all that really happens is that I feel separate from my fellow humans.
I've discovered that it's the focus on separation itself that drains my energy and power.
Lately, it's getting easier to tell if I'm concentrating on differences and have left my essence, my connected human heart, by how crappy I feel.
I've felt separate for much of my life, which, to me, explains my decades-long ups and downs with depression.
Ever since I was a tiny kid, I've felt a lot of disconnection.
I was even convinced I'd been born into the wrong family.
And, guess what?
My suspicions were confirmed when I went to the circus!
I had little interest in the ringmaster, clowns, and animals doing tricks, but as soon as I spotted the glittery outfits on that sparkly family swinging from high trapezes with their slicked back hairdos and fancy eye makeup, I knew I'd missed those spectacular bouncy nets and mistakenly landed in stiff church pews instead!
Hey, you flashy, spinning, twirling, flying, smiling spazzes!
Y'ALL ARE MY PEOPLE!
that little girl in the teal, sequin covered outfit and I are about the same age!
Maybe ALL she ever wanted to do was memorize Bible verses, sing solos in church, and go to Sunday School!
And here she was, being forced to somersault at crazy heights and wear leotards that rode up her butt!
SHE WAS LIVIN' MY DREAM!!!
Minus the butt thing.
Maybe we got mixed up at the hospital!
Maybe she felt as out of place in her family as I did!
All I know is that it DID NOT FEEL GOOD to compare my life to that little girl's.
And it doesn't feel good to compare where I'm at with anyone else now, although it can help me get clarity on what I really want when I stumble upon something that feels rotten.
Besides knowing that I can pivot to something that suits me better, there is an upside to comparison:
Other people's stories help me feel less alone.
When I hear a story and realize I've had the same experience, I remember that we're all in this Human Being Thing together.
I was reading a book about how to heal trauma and discovered that other people who've experienced chronic trauma, tend to FREEZE in frightening situations, instead of the usual fight or flight.
Really?! They do?!
I felt a MASSIVE wave of relief!
When I experience something shocking or frightening, my brain shuts down. I can't think or move.
In extra scary situations, my leg muscles even give out and I drop to the ground, like those hilarious fainting goats.
I've been embarrassed my whole life about that!
And can you imagine how inconvenient this is during emergencies?
Like car crashes?
I've been in a few and it's like my mind cannot process what just happened. It takes the longest time to realize I need to get out of the car.
Then there's an even longer amount of time before I can remember how to dial my phone.
Language also completely eludes me. I just stand there frozen in shocked silence.
Maybe it's not from the trauma at all, maybe a DNA test will prove that I am part fainting goat!
Whatever the cause, the wiring in my brain has not been set up for disturbing events and I've felt super alone in this because I don't know anyone else who freezes during crises.
That's why I don't go to haunted houses.
The second I got my first BOO! I'd become a limp puddle on the floor and they'd have to halt all haunting and spooking till some strong soul could carry me and all my potbellies out.
Another positive comparison:
A friend posted super fun pics on Facebook of her partner at the New Kids On The Block concert, shaking hands with Donnie Wahlberg as throngs of 40+ year old women clamored for the New Kids' attention.
These photos made me soooooo happy because my guilty pleasure is singing at the top of my lungs to the Backstreet Boys, who I totally overlooked during their heyday, but thanks to this video of a dancing parrot, made me rush to iTunes a few years ago and download their album lickety-split!
I dance and sing to them in behind closed doors and I've felt SO ISOLATED IN MY MIDDLE-AGED LADY BOY BAND LOVE!
But now I know I'm far from alone and I can stop being self-conscious about it already.
To wrap this confessional post up, comparison to find differences from others feels crappy and comparison to find similarities feels pretty good.
Our bodies are amazing communication devices.
And I'm beginning to get a much better read on mine these days, as it lets me know if I'm veering off course or if I'm feeling our unity and staying connected to my heart.