When I compare myself to others, looking for differences, either I give my power away by thinking their life is better than mine or I try to feel more powerful or 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 simply 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.
Even when I was a tiny kid, I felt disconnected.
I was so uncomfortable in my environment that I was pretty sure 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 and trained animals, but the second I spotted that super sparkly family swinging from high trapezes with their glittery outfits, slicked back hairdos and fancy eye makeup, I knew I'd missed their 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, go to Sunday School, and sing solos in church...
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.)
Hey!! What if she and I got mixed up at the hospital?!
What if she felt like she didn't belong in her family, just like me?!
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's 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 being human thing together.
One day, I was reading a book on healing trauma when I discovered that it's not uncommon for people who've experienced chronic trauma to freeze in frightening situations instead of responding with the well-known fight or flight response.
Really?! They do?!
Upon reading this, I felt a MASSIVE wave of relief! Because when I experience something shocking or frightening, my brain shuts down. I cannot 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 self-conscious my whole life about that.
I mean, 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.
Heck, maybe it's not from chronic trauma at all, maybe a DNA test will prove I am part fainting goat.
Whatever the cause, the wiring in my brain doesn't know how to handle disturbing events. And until recently, I've felt super alone in this because I don't know anyone else who freezes, but, apparently, there are lots of us.
Another helpful 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.
Oh My Goodness!
I cannot tell you how happy these photos made me because my secret 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.
Behind closed doors I dance and sing my heart out to their eye-rolling, ridiculous lyrics 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 embarrassed about it already.
comparison to find differences from others feels crappy and comparison to find similarities feels lovely because it links us to each other.
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 tuned into the truth of our unity with my ever-connected human heart.