Ever open up Facebook and feel a tad bit jealous of the stories and photos populating your newsfeed?
Ever listen to the pre-meeting small talk and marvel about how everyone else seems to be living the dream while you know you’ve got a mountain of laundry to fold this evening after you make dinner?
Ever look at others in the grocery store (or coffee shop or school pickup or wherever) and wonder how all of these people look so put together? Why is it so easy for them?
Of course we know that nobody is perfect, but sometimes it sure does feel that way.
You know why? We’ve fallen into the comparison trap. Never a good thing, because when we compare we usually focus on our own flaws rather than our strengths. Meanwhile others are probably looking at us thinking about how they fall short of us.
These comparisons aren’t good for you, and they most certainly aren’t good for your family. Thus my three key things I keep in mind to prevent those unhealthy comparisons from trapping my family.
3 Ways to Protect Your Family from the Comparison Trap
1. I don’t use other children as examples of how kids should/could be performing.
Similarly, I don’t compare my boys with each other. Everyone has their own strengths, their own talents, their own gifts to share with the world. Not everyone is going to be a straight A student. Not everyone is going to be MVP. Not everyone is going to be even tempered and roll with the punches.
Sometimes it’s tempting to blurt out to a child something like, “Why can’t you be more like your sister? I never have to yell at her to get her to do her homework.”
But that’s not going to encourage them to do their homework. It’s just telling them what they aren’t, which in the end only reinforces the very behavior you’re hoping to get rid of.
2. Celebrate wins in competitive situations as personal or team victories.
When one of my boy’s team wins a game or a battle of the books, I congratulate them on their hard work and acknowledge their talents. What I don’t do, and don’t let them do, is belittle the opponents.
Rivalry can be a great thing … it motivates, it encourages, it lights an emotional fire.
But I don’t want to see that rivalry morph into unhealthy places. This objectifies the opponent and can create anger and resentment in situations that really are supposed to be building our children up. All of our children.
3. When others succeed, it’s something to be admired.
There’s a difference between using others as standards of perfection (“Why can’t you be more like so-and-so?”) and professing admiration for someone who can be a source of inspiration. Just because they have what we want for ourselves doesn’t mean we can’t have it as well. That’s a scarcity mindset that doesn’t serve you.
Even if that person achieves something that we wish for ourselves and produces pangs of envy we can try to shift our mindset to one of appreciation for accomplishments. Yoko Ono once said, “Transform jealousy to admiration, and what you admire will become part of your life,” an inspiring credo to live by. (source)
How do you prevent the comparison trap from affecting your family? Share in comments!
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