Compare and Despair

I used to feel like shit about myself every single day. I felt small and insignificant. I wasn’t skinny enough, not toned enough, not rich enough, my relationship wasn’t good enough, my legs weren’t long enough, my stomach not flat enough, my clothes weren’t cool enough, I wasn’t funny enough…

And you know who made me feel like that?

Other moms.

I would see a mom out in the world—walking down the street, at Starbucks, in line at the grocery store, on the subway… On social media.

And I’d make up stories about her: She had the perfect body so she had all the time in the world to work out, and can obviously eat whatever she wants and never gain an ounce. She had the right stroller, the big rock, and that fabulous purse, so obviously she was loaded and didn’t have a care in the world. Look at the way her husband looks at her—their marriage is obviously perfect; clearly they never fight. Her skin was glowing, her clothes were all perfect, so clearly this mom was Perfect.

And then I’d make up stories about myself, based on what I just made up about her, all of which would lead me to decide that I am and always will be, not enough.

Women suffer from a debilitating disease called

COMPARE AND DESPAIR.

We compare how we feel on the inside to the stories we make up about other people’s outsides.

We use the things we make up about other moms as a way of beating ourselves up and perpetuating our shitty belief systems about ourselves.

So, how do we stop?

Try this exercise the next time it happens:

  1. Bring your awareness to it. Realize it’s happening in the moment.
  2. Stop whatever it is you’re doing and write down your thoughts. Do it on a napkin, or on the palm of your hand; just get it down. Ask yourself these questions:
    1. What do you believe about her, based on her exterior?
    2. Circle each thing that is totally made up. (e.g. if she’s skinny, that may be a fact. But if you think that means she eats whatever she wants and never gains weight, you made that shit up.)
    3. What are you making up about yourself, as compared to her? (What are the voices in your head saying?)
    4. Where have you heard these things before? What is familiar? Who has said these things to you in the past?
  3. Now imagine you are the woman whose outsides someone is comparing their insides to.
    1. What do you think they’re making up about you right now?
    2. How does what you present on the outside misalign with how you feel on the inside?
  4. Notice how much we make up about other people, and about ourselves. It’s all make-believe!

Challenge:

The next time you see an awesome-looking mom, give her a smile, and a secret high-five. Or give her a compliment on her cute shoes, and watch her melt from Perfect into just your average woman, the kind of accessible woman you could actually be friends with. Just like you.

What stories do you make up in your head about other moms? What stories are you making up about yourself?

 

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Kate Anthony

Kate Anthony, CPCC is a certified life coach who specializes in co-parenting, separation and divorce. Kate's expertise lies in the areas of parenting, supporting children through divorce, creating co-parenting plans, and helping couples create a healthy split that keeps children at the center, not in the middle.