I love the fact that my children are growing up now, they’ve gone from being small cuddly things with snotty noses and occasional tantrums to lovely human beings that I love to spend time with. One of our favourite past times is to watch TV together, often straight after school, I’ll grab a coffee and some snacks and we’ll chew over the day watching the programme of choice (we tend to make our way through box sets). I often find it’s a great way to find out about their day in a relaxed, non conversational (teenagers tend not to do conversations!) way!
One thing that I noticed though was the amount of comparison that happens, why don’t we have a house like that? Why don’t we go on holidays like that? Why aren’t I like that? Why aren’t you like that? To me it’s just idle chat and easily explained by ‘well it’s just a TV show, it’s not real, real life isn’t like that’ we all know that.
But it got me thinking about the comparison that we do from day to day? Because we all do it, at some point during the day we will compare ourselves to somebody that we have encountered, whether it’s a work colleague who is doing better at work than you, they seem more popular, get better quality work, or just generally better at doing it! A friend who has a new car, maybe a perfect house or a great holiday, a neighbour whose garden never seems to have weeds (there are so many of those where I live!). It’s as if there is a pecking order in life and we are certain that there are a considerable number of people above us on the list! This is real, these are real people, living real lives, not a TV show. How do we deal with this, because more often than not it makes us unhappy when we do it, like we’re not hitting the grade, we’re simply not good enough.
This is often the misunderstanding that we have, our perception (aka our thinking) leads us to believe that there is an order, a better or worse situation in which we have to decide whether we are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the people around us, if we’re better we’re doing well, if not, then we’re not, that it’s as simple as the spelling test we did at school, you either got 8 out of 10 or 3 out of ten, you knew where you were. But life isn’t a spelling test, how do we decide if we are really better or not? How are we comparing? What are we comparing? Our perception (i.e. what our thinking tells us) is that we are comparing two identical situations – ours and the other persons, that it’s simple and straightforward, but that is simply impossible as no two people’s lives are identical, there are too many factors to consider or discount and often we only see what people want us to see, the edited highlights, the good parts, the parts that are going well in their world. In other words, it is us that create the comparison with how we perceive other’s lives to be.
So in many ways the comparison exercise that we do in real life, is no more real than the TV show life that my children lightheartedly compare their lives to, our comparison whilst it may seem like real life, is simply a trick of the mind, a ‘perception’ show, that plays only for us in the privacy of our own head, the difference being that I’m allowed to change the channel in that one, once I’ve recognised it for what it is, unlike the TV shows of my kids choosing!
If you would like more clarity in your life, Andrea Morrison is a Transformational Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist & Speaker and is author of The Feel Good Factor in 30 days; book a free confidential consultation today or join her Free Seize Your Life community on Facebook for weekly Live Videos, blogs and other snippets of wisdom.