Do you often compare yourself and your family to others and find yourselves lacking? Here are six steps you can take NOW to make a powerful mindset shift away from the negative impacts of comparison.
Do comparisons to other parents leave you thinking they are somehow more able, they know what they are doing, their children are better behaved, achieve more and ultimately they have a happier and more fulfilling life? Falling into this comparison trap can lead us to feel rubbish, useless, inferior about ourselves in general and as a parent.
Comparing to others is a normal human behaviour, we all do it. This behaviour is related to a pre-programmed survival response to be part of a group. Social media makes it ever present as we scan the Facebook and Instagram posts of our friends and observe what a wonderful and happy family life they seem to be having. Of course, these posts do not always portray the truth of the matter. I saw a good example of this in my own life a couple of years back. I was out for the day at a summer fayre with my wider family. My niece was going on and on about having her face painted. She had already had a lot of treats that day and so her Mum had repeatedly said no. My canny niece then went over to her Dad, who was engaged over the other side of the fayre. Twenty minutes later she returned to the group very pleased with herself and a beautifully painted butterfly face. Needless to say, her Mum was not happy with her or her Dad. Later that day, when a post appeared on my Facebook newsfeed with a picture of my niece and her beautiful painted face with the caption “lovely family day out 😊”, I smiled knowing that was not quite the case.
So how do we negotiate making these comparisons when we are compelled to do so and are provided with so many opportunities?
I came across a visualisation exercise in the brilliant book “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)” by Philippa Perry, published in 2020. This exercise is great to apply to the comparing behaviour we all do. The exercise is called “The Hidden Part of Parenting” and can be downloaded at the end of this article.
Here are six steps you can take NOW to create a mindset shift and resist the comparison trap:
Download and follow Philippa Perry’s visualisation exercise “The Hidden Parts of Parenting”. The link can be found at the end of this article. It only takes a few minutes to read and have a go at the exercise.
In the moment, notice when you are comparing to others. Accept that comparing is normal human behaviour.
In that moment, stop and ask yourself, “Am I comparing my private room of difficulty to another’s person’s public face?”.
Turn away from the comparison and focus your attention on three things you appreciate and are grateful for if your own life, perhaps things from your positive room.
Take a moment to notice how being appreciative and grateful makes you feel about yourself in general, your life and you as a parent.
If you do have worries and concerns that keep coming up in your private room of difficulty, consider reaching out for help to an accepting and understanding person.
Comparing is a normal human behaviour and we have been doing it for a long time, therefore it is likely to take a little practice to move away from this trap. This practice will enable you to break free of the comparison trap and move you towards focusing on the positive elements of your own life.
If you would like a space to talk about your three rooms without judgement and gain support and advice from understanding from others please consider joining the Growing Positive Futures private Facebook group hosted by me.
Dr Beck x