Our learned behavior tends to run in cycles. It’s as simple as that. Breaking the cycle takes awareness and desire. One cycle that I think most people find themselves in is feeling like they are in a “funk.” There’s not a major emotion one way or another, but a state of being less happy than normal. I found a simple tool that I want to share with you to battle this comparison funk mode.
This past week has been wonderful in so many ways. I tried to be more present with the kids and with my husband. Spending more time focusing on them, I tried to be more patient. I laughed more and played more than I had in months. You see, working a lot had taken a toll on me, and I felt more than a little burnt out. During busy and stressful times, I occasionally get to a state of “blah.” For me this means staying in my pjs, not wanting to do anything, watching tv…just in a funk.
Getting Into the Comparison Funk
I had gotten into this funk even with daily scripture study and prayer. There were moments of happiness this past semester, but mostly I was just worn out. So, I decided that during Christmas break with the kids, I would try to do things that I have been jealous of other moms doing. I wanted to feel that joy and magic that everyone else was portraying on Facebook or Instagram. I sure you can guess that with those two social media sites as the standard to measure myself, this situation does not go well for me.
We played outside a lot! We watched movies. I made sure I gave myself some “me” time. Sometimes we would each take a turn deciding what we would all do. Other times I would plan activities that would stretch my kids’ comfort zone and interests. I have never been a mother who thinks that my kids should decide everything that we do. Especially if it is something they haven’t done before and they are simply nervous about trying. It was a lot of fun! But I never felt the need to articulate to others how fun it was.
The Danger of Comparing
When I would go on Facebook and Instagram, I could feel myself deflate. While I was happy for others, I didn’t shout my happiness from the rooftops and it caused me to feel a little less. I started wondering if everyone was having more fun than me. Maybe they were doing it better than me.
Comparison does that. It stops growth. Comparison is exactly why we are told not to compare ourselves to others. It stops progression. It stops the very reason that we are here on this Earth.
I could feel myself hit my infamous blah state, and I would pull myself out and do things with the kids. But this became a cycle – happy, social media, blah, eat crap, happy, social media…you get the point.
How to Fight It
One of the things that the Brethren continually encourage is the practice of gratitude. I also practice it, and we teach it to many of our clients. I know that it works, but sometimes I need something more quickly to do instead of writing it down, picturing it, and creating a feeling with it. If I feel crummy, I need to get out of it more quickly, especially when I don’t feel like writing.
This is where my wonderful sister comes in. Oddly enough she is the one I spent much of my life comparing myself to. We were in the car together having a conversation about comparing. She said when she gets into a funk, she thinks quickly of three things that she is grateful for. Sounds like the same thing that I just said right? The difference is that saying it, thinking it, and focusing on it at the same time can be much easier than taking the time to sit down and write about it. Both methods have their place and their worth.
As I sat talking to my sister, I said, “Let me try.”
“I love my house. It’s surrounded by trees and rock and is beautiful.”
“I love my old sweet dog, Allie. She is going deaf, but as soon as she sees you she wags her tail and runs to love you. Allie is lonely sometimes, but loves being on the porch where she can see us when we come home. She is such a good mannered dog.”
“I love that we have three cars, two of which are paid off. They are old and we are running them into the ground, but they have been good cars and I don’t have to worry about not being able to get around if one is in the shop.”
There are a million things I could have said and I believe that is the point. I wasn’t saying the three MOST important things in my life, because to be honest, sometimes they don’t work the same way as others. I love my kids and husband and our life, but they don’t always have to be the things I focus on. God wants us to count our MANY blessings, to notice them and to be mindful of them.
So, I have tried it. I tried it when I saw pictures of gigantic Christmases and holiday trips. I tried it when we talked about things that we don’t have, or when I was waiting on the Lord to answer my questions. It even worked when I felt frustration about a messy house (I’ve done it a lot these last few days)!!
I love the practice, and while I teach gratitude often, I am so happy to have a wonderful sister remind me that in a pinch, talking out loud or thinking in my head of what I am grateful for is one of the most powerful tools we have.
Sincerely try it and it will help to pull you out of your comparison funk.