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Why compare yourself with othersA young man came to our home last week to sell us some knives.

I let him make the appointment with us because he was the son of a good friend, and he said that he would get credit towards scholarships, even if we didn’t buy anything from him.  I had no intention of buying anything from him, but I just couldn’t say no. I know, I’m a sucker.

He gave a great presentation.  I let him know that he was doing a good job, but at the end, when he was trying to “close the deal,” I had to let him know that we just don’t really have the need.  I didn’t see any point to spending a lot of money on an admittedly great product, when I am doing just fine with the stuff I already own.

I told him “we’re good, we just don’t need anything right now.”

In contrast to all being well in my kitchen, I didn’t feel the same with myself.

When everything is good, we often don’t feel the need to do anything differently, but sometimes when life is “not so good” it can be hard to know what to do differently.

I had been struggling with feelings of inadequacy. (Okay, so it really is an ongoing struggle.)  I know there are things that need to be improved in my life, but so often I have allowed that to be a source of beating myself up.  “Why did it take me so long to figure this out” , “What was I thinking when I continued to ….”

Then it got worse… I started to compare myself to other women and moms. It always seems like other moms have it all together, while I constantly struggle.

I read two books over this summer.  The first one was, I Am More Than Enough:Helping Women Silence Their Inner Critic and Celebrate Their Inner Voice by Robert Jones and Bryce Dunford. The second was Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma.

I enjoyed reading both of them, but “Cleaning House” became my free-time read.  (The book I keep in the car and read while I’m waiting for kids at tennis lessons, violin lessons, or doctor appointments, etc.)  It was very entertaining and I was learning from it, but I soon found myself feeling like a failure as a mom, because I was comparing my parenting with the things that she chose to do with her kids.  I found myself thinking “why didn’t I teach my kids these things while they were younger?”  “She’s right, these things are important, I should have done (fill in the blank) with my kids”  Then pretty soon I felt pretty worthless.

And you know what happens when you have that kind of pity party?

NOTHING!!

No one wants to join you for that. No goals get set or accomplished. I wasn’t improving anymore, I just felt like a failure.

Then I picked up my first book, “I am more than enough” and I realized that there was a balance that was missing in my life.  This books subtitle is “Helping women silence their inner critic and celebrate their inner voice.”  It’s all about comparing ourselves to other women, recognizing the damaging effects it can play on our psyche, and how to combat that habit and learn to recognize that we are all okay just as we are.

So as I was learning to make some progress in teaching kids new skills in parenting through reading one book, I was forgetting the teachings of the other book, in letting “me be okay with me.”

I recognized right there that something needed to change.  I needed to re-discover the things about me that are good.  I have done a lot of things “right” in my parenting, even if I have made some mistakes also.  For me, I needed to accept both truths.  The only way I am going to make progress is to realize what I have done that is good, and has had positive results, and use that knowledge to address the problems that I own in my parenting.

For example, when they were young, I read lots of books on parenting and tried to implement the things that I learned. I had rules in regards to how they could treat each other. We read together. We went to church together. We took time to play and do projects together.  As a result, all 5 boys get along with each other pretty well.  They value the friendship they have with each other and will most likely be friends the rest of their lives.

I’m now at the stage where I’m trying to help them become men.  Independent. Self reliant. Responsible. A few of my boys are already there, but I still have two at home, and I know first hand, how quick those last few years will fly by.  There are still more lessons I need to teach them, before it is too late.

Then the other night, as we were reading our scriptures as a family, I read these words in 2 Nephi, in the Book or Mormon.

24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!

25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!

26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!

These scriptures really hit me.  Suddenly I realized that while it is important for me to recognize the good things that I have done, and that I am okay to be who I am, there is always room for improvement.  I should always be searching for ways to grow and become more and do more.Improvement and Gratitude

I made the decision that I would record my progress in a very simple way each night in my journal. (It has to be quick and simple or I won’t find time to do it)

This is what I have been writing.

Three things that I did right today:

Three things that I am grateful for:

Three things that I want to improve in:

If there are more than three, I save it for the next day.  By using this method it helps me to stay focused on what works, how God is at play in my life, and it keeps me reaching to become a little better each day.

So far, I have felt much better about my life as I record these simple things.  I think it keeps my ADD mind a little more focused, and it reminds me of my ability to progress with God’s help.  I look forward to the new school year, and the opportunities that I may have to learn along with my kids.

I am so grateful for the words of Christ that we learn through reading in our scriptures, and I also recognize God’s hand in helping me with the most important job that I have. That of being a mother. With his help I may have those wonderful moments when I can say “we’re good,” and know that means we are making good progress.

 

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