Today we are talking about comparison. When there is something that isn’t working in our life or when we see an area of need, it’s natural to want to make it better. If your kid is struggling because they aren’t speaking yet, it’s natural for you to want them to. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s what makes us human. The problem is when you start comparing yourself to someone else, and that makes you feel bad. I am going to teach you little strategies and ways so that when you start to see that you are comparing yourself to another person, or your child to someone else’s, you can learn how to empower yourself instead of feeling bad.
Why Is Comparison a Bad Thing?
The problem with comparison is that we all do it and we all really would like to be able to stop doing it. It’s simple right? We feel ashamed and wish that we could be happy with our lives and not compare. But just because we wish for something doesn’t mean it will happen. Raising a child with special needs means that there are a whole lot of areas you have to work on. This is a daily thing we have to work on in our minds to get to a place where we want to be.
If you have a hard time with seeing other successful people, with seeing neurotypical kids, you aren’t thinking those thoughts because your child has special needs or in a hard place right now. If you really think about it, you will realize that you have probably been doing this your whole life. It is a habit. You can insert any situation into your life and that habit is going to come out in wherever you are and what you are doing.
We think it popped up because we are in a hard situation or circumstance, but even as kids, we wished that we had a toy we didn’t get or a vacation the family couldn’t afford. The problem with comparison is that if you ever did get what you wished for, comparison is just going to come in that season too. No matter what you have or how great your kids are, if you have a habit of comparing yourself or your life to other people, it won’t go away. The only way that it gets better is if you do the work.
Why Is It So Hard To Stop Comparing?
We tend to compare ourselves with other people all the time because it requires no effort and we’ve been doing it for so long, probably our entire lives. When we are looking at something that’s hard in our life, our habit is to just compare it to others and feel bad about ourselves.
When our child is diagnosed with autism, all we do is compare them to other kids. We do this because we try to figure out what they will look like when they get older, or what their life will look like as they become teenagers, how they will fit into society, and if they will be independent. When you start looking around and seeing other kids doing things that your kid isn’t doing, it makes you sad because you think your kid is so far behind.
How Do We Stop Comparing?
Well, the first thing to know is that we are not going to ever be able to completely stop comparing. But you can use comparison to your advantage to help you and make you feel good.
The first step is to bring awareness to what you are thinking about. So instead of going down the spiral of comparing your child’s development or behaviors to someone else’s child, just bring awareness to the fact that this is how you are feeling.
The second thing you should do is insert an anchor thought. This is something you think of to switch your focus to something else. For example, if you are jealous of someone else’s vacation, just try saying, “ I wish them well and that they will have an amazing trip.” Or something like, “ I hope that they see something that inspires them to make a change in the world.” Send them blessings! This kind of thought work will help you to grow. Turn it around as soon as you start comparing.
Instead of focusing on the weaknesses or areas of need that your child has, or comparing them to another child and feeling bad about it, focus on how they have improved and done better than they have months ago. When you take a bad thought and then you flip it around, it becomes an opportunity for you to be grateful for how far they’ve come. You won’t feel bad anymore and will be able to see how much improvement they have made.
The next time someone starts telling you about all the things their child is doing, and you start thinking about everything that your child isn’t, tell your friend how exciting it is and notice all of the things that their child is doing. Send them blessings out loud. You will feel so proud of yourself for doing that, and then you will actually start believing in yourself and what you are saying.
It is not healthy to surround yourself with people that only talk about the negatives and how hard their life is. It is easy to listen to that because we can understand them and feel a connection to their struggle. But do you want to feel bad all the time? If you follow people that are negative, it’s tempting to want to hang onto that. But do you want to keep thinking that way or do you want to change the way you feel?
How To Use Comparison To Your Advantage
Your child does have autism or special needs. That’s not going to change. The more you focus on wishing your life was different, the more exhausting it is, and the result is that your child will still have autism or special needs, your life isn’t changing, and all you’re doing is feeling bad about it!
Comparing yourself to someone else isn’t necessarily bad, but how we interpret that usually is. Start recognizing when it comes into your mind, and turn it around. Use it to your advantage. In the upcoming days and weeks, start to strengthen the muscle of being grateful because it doesn’t come naturally. If you are feeling very unsure because of where you are in the special needs journey, it is going to be an uphill battle, but the more and more you do it, the easier it will become.
- If you are following people that make you feel bad, unfollow them. I promise even when you do that you will still find people to compare yourself to. But get rid of the ones that make you feel really bad and work on your thought-work with the people that don’t make you feel quite as bad. When you can strengthen that muscle, then you can follow all those people and start sending them blessings.
- When you find yourself comparing your child or your life to someone else, or feeling jealous about something that someone else has, send them good thoughts and think of blessings for them. Those thoughts are not natural. It’s not going to feel good at first and you will feel like you are lying. But when you start to do this, it will begin to get easier and you will feel so much better about yourself and that person.
- It’s natural for us to want our kids to have an easier way of life. When we look at other kids whose childhood seems so easy, there’s nothing wrong with us wanting that for our kids. But it starts to get dangerous when we see other kids that are doing things and wishing that we had what they had. That’s when it becomes jealousy. It never makes us feel good or productive and it is a wasted and totally useless feeling that brings us down.
- Find an anchor thought. Whenever you find yourself comparing, become aware of the fact, and find something else to focus your attention on. Send blessings to that person or think of the things in your life that are going well. Think about all of the improvements your child has made from a year ago, or even six months ago.
- Comparison is an auto-pilot thought that we have been trained to think of our whole lives. We have to learn how to retrain this thinking and focus that energy on creating a new auto-pilot for ourselves when we start to feel jealous or wish we had another person’s life.