Let's talk about you and me, but not in that kind of way; in the comparison kind of way

I’ve been thinking about thinking, and i’m thinking you’ve been doing a lot of thinking too. You might even dabble in overthinking at times. It’s a tendency, a pattern within our mind. I’m going to take the next few blog entries to explore some of these patterns of our mind’s thinking, as I’m thinking all this thinking leads us to think a whole lot of crap about ourselves, and often gets us into a lot of trouble. That’s just what I think. Urgh, that’s a lot of thinking right there.

Let’s visit with the tendency to compare. We start comparing early on, in our single digit years perhaps. We realize we’re different genders, different colors, different sizes. We start picking up on our doings and how some might do something this way and some might do it that way. Initially it’s different, but eventually it rears its head into becoming better or more than. Differences suddenly become threatening, and we start comparing ourselves to others and to others’ doings and havings. Most of us compare up, so that I, me, my, mine is less than you and yours. Your ball hitting is better than mine, your clothes are better than mine, your house is better than mine, your mom’s cooking is better than mine’s. Of course, of course, you might be one of the lucky ones, on the other side.

Perhaps you didn’t compare then, perhaps you always had enough and were enough. Don’t you go boasting, for it eventually got you. Grades, school performance, dating options, college options, your physical size, your bank account, your car, your house, your kids, your kids’ grades. Eventually you compared. Commercialism at its core needed you to compare in order to survive. So most of us have compared. And it turns out comparison just makes us feel like shit. All the time. We feel less than, not enough, not accomplished, not valued, not pretty, not skinny or too skinny, not cool enough. Be honest with yourself, there are ways you think the grass is greener on the other side.

But is it? I have curly, often messy hair. For a long time in my life it was hard to deal with. I tried to straighten it, I tried to tie it up, I tried to cut it off. It tangled up, it got in the way, it was hard to comb or figure out what the hell to do with it most days. it always looked like a good example for a horror movie ‘do every morning I woke up. Most mornings it still does. But at some point I just stopped fighting it and just let it be what it wants to be. Some days the curls are tight and bouncy, some days they’re wildly trying to not acknowledge each other’s existence. And let me tell you about their poor existence when I do back-to-back snowboarding trips, with the helmet smashing them down, or maybe they’d like to share about the misery of multiple days backpacking trips where no water, no comb, no mirror is anywhere in sight. Painful existence, but I bet you they kind of like the messy freedom.

And this curls thing turned out to be so much more than about hair and curls. I noticed that tendency in most other areas in my life— a constant tug to notice the better, to compare, to put myself down and feel like shit. This tug to need to change something, fix something, buy something. A short relief would follow after the new cure, then back on the treadmill of comparison I was. This is wrong, this is not right, or good, or enough. Fix it, cover it, hide it, try to ignore it while it gnaws at the core of my soul.

it turns out the grass is just greener where we water it. Once we learn to focus on and appreciate that which we have, it all falls into a beautiful sense. Instead of thinking “ I wish I had legs like that”, focus on “I am glad my legs are carrying me up the stairs or up the mountain, or off the toilet”. Once one area becomes slightly lighter and easier to work with, the others will seem doable also. For me, it started with the curls, but maybe I had already been on the journey for a while, I don’t know. I was distracted and busy fixing for a long time until I found the curls. So I allowed more things to just be the way they wanted to be, the way it felt easier, lighter, more fluid.

If we’re able to switch our attention from external, from focusing on how others are and how others seem to be doing, and instead look within and notice, and start clearing and letting go of the need to compare and put ourselves down, it does get greener around. Instead of wanting the straight, easy to comb, quick to fix hair (but honestly, is it really though?), we realize that sometimes having curls (or not!) works out just fine. At the end of the day, we all end up having messy, undone, hat hair. It’s great we have it. I’m almost certain my head is a lot warmer because I have the hair I have. I’ve learned to appreciate the hair I have, and I’m not lying, most days I absolutely love my hair, with all its glorious mess and all. And if you don’t have the hair, then maybe you don’t have to worry about hat hair, and that’s also a glorious thing.