Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what they have been through.
~— Sam Cawthorn
I had collected this quote, because it fit in perfectly with a slew of conversations I’ve recently had with myself.. Then tonight after dinner, Joshua brought up a very similar idea during our conversation. Not one to ignore being plowed in a direction, I decided to run with it.Spend a moment with this thought. Accept and then forgive yourself for whatever you have been through to get you to a place of comparing. That’s the foundation of this sharing.
I am guessing pretty much anyone can agree with the rest of this paragraph. If by chance you don’t, then the odds you won’t have a clue what I am talking about during any of this. It’s okay if you do something else while the rest of us are talking. I have had some horrible things done to me. I have done things that can be defined as horrible to others. I have without question, done some horrible things to myself.
About a year ago ran into someone I went to high school with. Some people are still wearing their school colors and meeting yearly, and some people are just grateful they made it through the process and would rather not think about it. I am in some people category number two. The seven years after high school weren’t my most treasured memories either (though there were some lovely moments, and some good people who most probably are some of the reason I am able to sit today and write this). My exceptional life began at 25, with the understanding that pieces of the earlier years did attach themselves and refuse to be left behind.
It is not a coincidence that I had my son at age 25. It was no longer about me, my failing, my misery, my lack of direction, my disappointing family/friends/self. It was about being a parent to the most precious boon that I could have been granted, even after EVERYTHING. I refused to mess that up. I made the decision to move in a better course. The road was S-L-O-W….. but it had some genuine direction to it.
Fast forward to a year ago. The classmate I ran into.. I had her locked into that place, and she had me locked in that place. – the last place we had history. I was annoyed with myself for instead of unlocking that by just being in the MOMENT.. basking and enjoying the opportunity and the beauty of that NOW.. I allowed myself to travel back and then strive to explain to her how I felt about High School. Really…I babbled. Rightfully, she had no reason to care. BUT – after a bit of self flogging for the next 24 hours, I AWOKE. I forgave myself. I understood. I had needed for others to understand what was going on… and it was High School…so of course it wasn’t’ that simple. So I locked in that moment during that conversation, and used it to attempt to make it happen now. It was a crossroads in time and I grabbed it. Of course it didn’t turn out the way I intended. I was talking like a crazy person. I am so happy about that now too, because it opened me up and removed that part of me that wanted anyone to understand anything during those years. I had wanted so desperately for my “peers” to understand what my life was like, I hadn’t realized, I didn’t know the secrets behind their doors either. Still don’t know today.
Most of the time we don’t know what others are going through, much less that they have been through. Our life only stands on the legs of it’s own experiences. Our present is built only on the blocks of our history. Even our vision of others experiences are defined by our own.
As a single parent from when Joshua was age 2 until Will and I get married when he was in 8th grade, I would sometimes feel badly he didn’t have a “normal” home environment. Years later I understood that some of the most “normal’ environments weren’t so at all. I would feel badly because we struggled with money at times, and I couldn’t take him on great vacations. Yet the wonderful adventures we did have and the variety of day trips we took seem to have worked out fine.
Even from this place in time I sometimes see a life or a situation and think “wow, I would love it to be like that for ME!”. It quickly gets revealed HERE is perfect for me now, and if I want something different, it needs to be because I am led by my Inner Voice, not an outer trapping. It’s okay to try on different ideas to see how they fit, but once we start comparing and inflicting judgment, either on ourselves or about others, we lose energy points. It steals our magnificence from us.
Even in my marriage, as deeply as I love and adore my husband, I don’t know everything he has experienced in his life, and I don’t know everything he is feeling very moment of every day. Same goes with him for me. I have come to understand that I can’t compare the way I think, the way I would react, what I would do, with what he is doing. I don’t have enough info. The Highest Choice is to strive to understand what someone is feeling. The Choice that amplifies the perfection in all parties is to strive to rise above judgments and comparison, and operate from a place of Love and Acceptance. This doesn’t insist you agree with everything, but you accept that in the moment, based on what got that person there, is where they are. Insert more love here.
One of my most powerful exercises for my self-healing goes like this. When I remember a time am not comfortable with that I am the Lead Actor, I say ‘ I Forgive You, I Love You”. It is done”. If someone else is the lead actor? Same words. At first you might feel uncomfortable, phony, not believe it. But in time, that phrase has become one of my best friends. It calms me. It comforts me. It brings peace to that uncomfortable moment. It removes the dust and reveals the beauty hidden in the shadows of the judgment.
Accept and then forgive yourself for whatever you have been through to get you to a place of comparing. Finally, insert more love here.
~ reprint from 4/2011