It's MAY! This is a big deal for us here in the Minneapolis area. It's true that our winters can last well into April, but it's rare to have snow in May. For those of us who don't exactly have an affinity for winter, the start of May puts a spring in our step and a sense that it is finally going to stay warm. Today it was a lovely 65 degrees, and people are walking around outside in shorts and sleeveless shirts. We really love spring here. But I digress.
If you're a 20-something, there's a good chance this time of year has become synonymous with wedding season. Weekends are filled with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and of course, actual weddings.
Weddings can be absolutely delightful- from the ceremony to cocktail hour to the reception, there are old friends to catch up with and a fresh new marriage to celebrate.
But wedding season can also be a breeding ground for some pretty heavy duty comparison. You know what I'm talking about....
She looks so good after just having that baby... why can't I get my act together?
She just got another promotion and I'm stuck in this dead-end job.
*smiling and nodding after the 689th person gushes about their fabulous new job/car/house/boyfriend/vacation/baby/dog.*
I love this quote from Teddy Roosevelt. It's so true, isn't it? Really think about it. Has there ever been a time when you've compared yourself to someone and it resulted in joy? Either you come to the conclusion that you are somehow less than the other person, and you begin to feel bad about yourself, your life, your body, your relationship... etc. Or it's the other way around, and you decide you are somehow better than someone else. Walking around with a spirit of superiority makes it difficult to connect with others and actually be attentive to your own needs. Comparison indeed is the thief of joy.
So, what can be done? Wedding season is just getting underway. Be intentional about shifting your focus elsewhere in order to ditch comparison:
1. Focus on the couple. If you find yourself in a comparison trap, try moving your attention to the bride and groom. Notice their joy and lightheartedness. And if you're in a group conversation that involves comparison, make the choice to steer the conversation back to the newlyweds. You cannot change other people, but you can change what you do.
2. Focus on yourself, in a positive way. Silently repeat positive affirmations. You are enough, just as you are. And, give yourself a reality check. Is it helping you to compare yourself to another person? Does it really matter what anyone else is doing? Probably not. So, focus on what you are doing. Stay in your lane.
3. Focus on your surroundings. Whether you're at a bridal shower or a wedding reception, you're probably surrounded by all sorts of beauty. Notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Pay attention to all the details. Practice gratitude for all you are experiencing.
Finally, consider where you are getting your sense of self-worth. For example, let's say you're catching up with an old friend during cocktail hour and she is telling you about the fabulous new condo she just bought. And let's say being a homeowner isn't something you can financially swing right now. If your sense of worthiness is caught up in achievement, you could start feeling envious, and less than this person. You might start to question your own financial goals, your own life, and your own SELF. When this becomes a pattern in your life, it can be helpful to work through it with a counselor. If this sounds like you and you're in the Minneapolis - St. Paul area, contact me to talk about how counseling could help.