I figured out what makes us so unhappyFeb 09, 2020
I want to start out today by saying that I didn’t mean to turn into the giant ASSHOLE that I did.
But it was two weeks before Christmas & I was sitting on my best friend couch.
We were enjoying the fire and the fact that the men were in a completely different room watching their noisy football game…
And the kiddos were downstairs playing without drama.
We couldn’t hear anyone else. It was BLISS!
My husband walked in, taking in the scene.
What he saw:
🎄 A grand, gorgeously-decorated Christmas tree
🔥 A glowing fire with a festive mantle
⛄ Just-the-right décor artfully placed
Leslie REALLY gets into the holiday flavor thing, & her home styling ability rivals professionals.
Basically, if you gave me a MILLION dollars and said, “Make my home look fabulous for the holidays” I’d never come close to what she can pull off.
What John saw when he walked into that room was a tasteful, beautiful, warm Christmas scene. Like a perfectly curated set designed for a Hallmark Christmas movie.
(It really was gorgeous. I was a little jealous.)
ANYWAY. John took it all in, then jokingly said, “Les, your house looks EXACTLY like ours!”, chuckling.
Where I went after his comment was 100% IRRATIONAL.
I know it. But didn’t give a shit in the moment.
I said venomously, “If you want a perfectly decorated house at Christmas, you are WELCOME to do it yourself.”
His eyes got big. He knew he’d stepped in something, but he had NO idea what.
I kept going - brutally. Stupidly.
“You know - It’s not MY JOB to make sure that the house is perfect for Christmas!”
He looked at me, wondering where the hell this came from, & said, “Jen! That’s not what I said. That’s not what I meant!”
I knew it. I knew he wasn’t implying that I’d done a damn thing wrong.
But he’d unknowingly triggered my self-judgment about Christmas - which is that it creates unending expectations I can’t meet.
I quickly got my mental shit together and explained to him that in my heart, I have lots of unwritten rules how to “do the holidays right”
and fail at all of them.
I told him I silently judge myself, thinking, “I’m not good enough. What’s wrong with me?!”
Logically, I know it’s stupid. But, I judge myself because I have NO DESIRE to make these aspects of the holidays part of my life.
I’m sharing this with you because last week I talked about how it takes COURAGE to be successful.
And a big part of courage is UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF.
Knowing who you are. What YOU LIKE.
What you’re good at - or aren’t good at.
Knowing your OWN personal brand of who you are in the world.
And being OK with that.
IN that moment, though I did it BADLY, I was trying to display courage. I was trying to convey WHO I WAS.
For days afterward, I wondered why I’d gotten so inflamed.
Then, it hit me.
I was walking the dog in the freezing cold, thinking about how lucky my sister is to live in Charlotte, North Carolina where it was 64 degrees that day - and she wasn’t freezing when she walked HER dog.
And then it hit me.
I know what makes us unhappy. What keeps us from success.
I mean - all’s good in my world, until I start looking at someone else’s life. Or looking at the way someone else DOES something.
Comparing ourselves to other people is a source of pain.
- Are our holidays as good as other people’s?
- Does that couple have a more loving relationship than we do?
- Is he making more money in his business?
- Why is SHE so much more thin/attractive/popular/happy/intelligent than I am?
Saying this out loud here is absurd. These are things my middle schooler grapples with!
So why is it still a problem as an adult?
Because comparison is a habit. We’re human - and we notice things. We naturally wonder if we’re supposed to want or have those same things.
Sometimes it’s easy to say, “Ohh hell no. That’s not for me.”
But other times, comparison happens subtly. We create a story that we may not even be aware of.
Apparently, I need to learn this lesson over and over and OVER again. It’s super annoying - but I’m a human, so I guess I don’t have a choice except to keep learning it.
The lesson is that the pain in our lives truly, truly comes from comparison.
Another gem to illustrate this point - it was May 5th and I was thrilled to be spending alone on my porch. The breeze was warm. My son was busy playing. And my husband was away on business.
I was sitting outside, writing - two of my favorite things!
And then I opened Facebook & realized it WAS NOT May 5th…
It was Cinqo de Mayo! And everyone everywhere was out doing festive things! Living their lives!
Partying - together. Celebrating!!
And I was suddenly NOT a mom enjoying some peace while doing a little work,
I was now a Lonesome Loser.
Comparison was the source of my misery.
I’ve got hundreds of examples like this - and I bet you have your own stories of a time when comparison killed a moment for you.
An experience that was perfectly fine. Maybe even wonderful - until you put a spin on it…
Or your brain got hold of some other information…
And suddenly a story started that changed everything and made you question yourself.
A story that made you UNHAPPY.
Comparison is pure hell because you really DO NOT truly know what you’re comparing yourself to.
Whatever you’re seeing - or comparing yourself to - is a story you’ve created.
Like, ‘I’d like my life more if I were at a Cinqo de Mayo Party”. - PS: I would NOT be happy at a Cinqo de Mayo party.
OR it’s a veneer. You’re telling yourself you’ve got the inside scoop on that other person’s life. and you KNOW they have it better than you.
But I promise you - you don’t know all the facets. It may look one way - but there is something there that if it WERE yours would not make YOU happy.
You with your specific needs, likes, strengths, dislikes, and weaknesses.
Their journey is different than yours. Their lessons are different from yours.
Their experience - no matter how good it looks - would not be the same it would be if it were YOUR experience.
It’s not supposed to be.
I’ve learned that if you had their experience, you’d probably NOT be happy.
It’s the thinking it MIGHT or WOULD - which is basically what comparison is - causes us GREAT UNHAPPINESS.
Sometimes we take the comparison so far that we don’t even know who we are anymore - or what we want.
Comparison causes deep pain.
IMPORTANT QUESTION: How do we stop it?
This is where your COURAGE comes in.
Remember - courage is doing something that feels hard or makes you feel afraid - and DO IT ANYWAY.
So how do you stop it:
Two things to start:
- Remember that EVERYONE has a veneer. A veil. Me included. There are things I don’t share - things that aren’t mine to share. Or that are too deeply personal. Or that I haven’t worked through yet & still have a wound around. That thing you’re comparing yourself to is NOT the whole story.
- GET REAL: let’s use the Leslie example with her beautiful Christmas décor. I personally don’t LIKE decorating. If this was important to me, I’d make it happen. Either I’d learn HOW to do it or I’d hire someone. But let’s get real: it’s just not where I want to spend my energy.
Practice having the COURAGE to be yourself.
Know yourself deeply enough - and like what you see there…
You can even try this little script: say, “That’s great for them, but it wouldn’t work for me.”
When we stop thinking that the grass is greener on the other side, we find PEACE, happiness, satisfaction.
I heard this great quote that I want to share:
The grass is greener where you water it - Neil Barringham
It takes COURAGE to JUST water your own grass. To have the courage to be YOU.
And Courage to just let someone else BE THEM - without making it mean a damn thing about you.
Can you water your own grass this week? Gather the courage to BE YOURSELF - without comparison?
It’s a habit - so be nice to yourself as you work through this habit. Courageous AND nice.
If you want to learn how to create courageous goals that you CAN ACTUALLY achieve, join this month’s free training called COURAGEOUS GOALS.
Register for it at www.jenliddy.com/courageous-goals - It’s recorded so you can access it later, but you need to be on the list to get the link!
I don’t offer a sales pitch in these trainings. It’s a way for me to do what I love - teach - and give back to my community.
I’ll see you back here next week!