Comparison Is Not Always The Thief Of Joy

comparison is not always the theif of joyAlthough my childhood now seems pretty horrendous, at the time I didn’t think it was that bad. My mother kept some pretty awful company, and in comparison to their kids, I was leading a charmed life. There was one woman who regularly told her son that he should have been an abortion. Another who was so skint all the time that she fed her children eggs morning, noon and night; and told them it wasn’t actually Christmas on the 25th December, because she hadn’t bought them any presents. Then there was an alcoholic uncle, who once dragged my cousin around the living room by her hair in front of me, so you can only imagine what he was doing behind closed doors. The constant comparison to people in worse situations probably saved me from a lot of heartache when I was younger.

When I used to tell people about how I was raised they were shocked, because I seemed so normal. Surely someone who had gone through everything I had would be too messed up to function? I hid my wounds well for the most part, except of course for the two mental breakdowns I had in the space of four years. The first one leading me to counselling and being woken up to the tragedy of it all, as well as sparking the beginning of the end of my relationship with my mother and family. The second breakdown led to rock bottom, waking up to my self-destructive behaviour, and turning it all around. Comparison during this time was vital to my recovery. I didn’t want to be some fu**ed up loser, I wanted what my friends had. Stability, normality, to love and be loved.

Nowadays all my energy goes into my little family. They say you should never compare kids, especially your own, but how can you not? It was mainly seeing the developmental differences between our two girls that made us realise there was more to P’s story than her just being a challenging child. If we’d not had C to compare her with, who knows whether we would have found out so early on that she has autism? Life is tough right now, but I know it will get easier once we get some help, and (hopefully) start sleeping better. I firmly believe that early diagnosis is a good thing, because the earlier you intervene the sooner you can get them to a better place.

With social media being as big a part of our lives as it is, it can be impossible not to compare ourselves to others, which often leaves us feeling empty, and soul destroyed. On the surface it can appear that everyone else is having a better time than we are, and under these circumstances, comparison really is the thief of joy.

As I’m sure you’ll agree though, this isn’t always the case, quite the opposite in fact!

This post was inspired by The Prompt at Mum Turned Mom

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23 thoughts on “Comparison Is Not Always The Thief Of Joy

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  2. Thanks so much my darling, really appreciate you taking the time to stop by, I know how insanely busy you are!

    I find it crazy how people expect kids to be this or that for what ever reasons (gender, who their siblings are, zodiac sign?!) People are individual, end of, and we should never put expectations on to kids. It really does wind me up when people say that Freddy will do xy or z ‘because he’s a boy’. So far he has bucked the trend every single time, and I’m really pleased tbh 🙂 xxx

  3. Interesting post, lovely – there’s definitely a difference between comparison and competition. The former can be healthy, aspirational within limits but the latter can be unhealthy and bring you down. Your first paragraph made me feel so sad…the way you have turned your life around is an inspiration xxx #ThePrompt

  4. Such an important post, I think comparison and competition should be healthy, we all have bad days of course, but it’s so vital to remember what’s important in life, for me it’s my kids, my husband and my friends. Yes my job is important too but the people in my life come first. Those relationships and our health are number 1 and they are my joy. I think comparison of developmental stages in kids is necessary as you say and to remember how different each child is, I often see people with same sex children expecting the same personalities and my two couldn’t be more different xx

  5. I’m really open with the details of my life, but can completely understand when other people aren’t. I’d never think badly of anyone for not wanting to share as much as me. I do get a little annoyed when people misrepresent the truth though on social media, presenting a perfect life when all is far from rosy. It’s why we have such warped views of how family life should be, and why it all comes as such a shock when it’s not as easy as we thought it would be… Then again perhaps it’s their way of coping with their not so fabulous lives?

  6. Really love this post, I agree that comparison does not have to be a negative thing, as long as you have your eyes and mind open. As Tim says, we need to be aware that we see/read what people want us to, but I try to take the positives from comparison and not get sucked into the negativity. Which can be tricky sometimes and I have my bad days. But we really can learn a lot from other people if we allow ourselves to see past the spin. Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt x

  7. Really interesting view on comparison. You’re so right that some times it is a good and useful thing, but yes, social media can make us compare negatively. I try to hang on to that saying that you shouldn’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlights reel.

  8. Really enjoyed this post. You make good arguments for why comparison – as opposed to competition – can be helpful. Agreed about the comparison to those worse off functioning as a coping mechanism but I wonder whether it relies on some sort of direct connection to the people in question. As hard as my mum tried, the the line ‘starving children in Ethiopia would finish that dinner’ never seemed to work on us..

    The crazy stork lady |

  9. I agree with Tim about taking social media statuses with a pinch of salt when it comes to comparison…now I think to myself that if someone’s life really was that fabulous they wouldn’t have the time or the need to be on Facebook! Maddy’s right too, there’s always someone worse off.

    It seems to me your energy is being spent in the right place 🙂 x

  10. Great post, Renee. I do think that social media’s ability to make it easy for us to share our experiences can be so valuable but what other people share should always be taken with a pinch of salt when it comes to comparison. Just as any autobiography only gives us edited highlights of a person’s life – the story they want to be told – so too does social media only offer an edited view of our friends’ lives. I think it’s fine to share-and-compare, but any comparison has to be made with ‘editing’ in mind.

    I love the fact that you’re always so honest with your writing – it’s very brave and also very valuable for readers. Equally, though, when I see other people only showing their edited highlights I’m okay with that too – in most cases, people aren’t being deceitful, only unwilling to air their laundry in public. It’s incumbent on us as readers to see the world for what it is, not for the partial picture that’s presented to us.

  11. Such a thought-provoking post R, it never occurred to me that this could be the case for various reasons (i.e comparisons not always being a bad thing). I think it’s natural to compare, as long as we don’t over do it, and it can work kind of favourably in situations like with P and C. You are so strong and amazing Mrs x

  12. I think it can cut both ways for sure. Sometimes a window into someone else’s seemingly perfect world can feel like the last thing we need when we’re surrounded by screaming kids and have jammy toast in our hair… but then a big dollop of someone else’s not-so-shiney reality can make us realise we should stop feeling sorry for ourselves and realise how good we’ve got it. Comparison saved my sanity as a new mother – my fantastic nct bunch and I were constantly reassuring each other that we/our kids were going through similar things. All the craziness felt normal and non of us felt alone. xx

  13. Oh bless them her! I guess having to speak in two languages could feel like a chore for a 4yo, especially after just starting school and being knackered. I’d love my kids to be bi-lingual, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Good plan sending them off to France for uni 😉

  14. I agree with you: comparison can lead to jealousy at times, but most of the time, it’s just plain healthy. When I was growing up, I also felt I was having a pretty normal childhood compared to other kids in worse situations. As for those in more stable families, I simply didn’t think to compare myself to them: we just had different family configurations (and for the most part I didn’t care).

    When it comes to comparing our own children, it’s only normal in a developmental sense, ie I notice Beanie refusing to speak Frenxh completely (“it’s poo, it’s stupid, French!”) and although he wasn’t as vocal as she is, I remember Crevette at her age being embarrassed to speak French. Comparison reassures me in that sense. My kids have to study in France one day; uni is way too extortionate here hehe! (+ it would be nice if they could communicate with the French half of the family!).

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