Comparisons to Discard, Comparisons Worth Making, Part 2

What would have happened had I been able to buy that place from my ex-beau? I’d probably still be at my previous job, where I felt quite unchallenged, but the pay and benefits were decent. I’d probably have had to move from the condo where I was living—alone, for just the second time in my life…I enjoyed my solitude and it helped me to regain a measure of, for lack of a better word, sanity—to some basement apartment where I could afford the rent to be able to afford the mortgage and pay off my ex. I probably wouldn’t be getting out there that much, given the drive and the run-up in gasoline prices.

All this stemmed, in part, from a comparison. From wanting something similar to what someone else had, rather than exploring what was exactly right for me in the moment and understanding that safety and security come mostly from within and mostly don’t depend on what’s external to us.

In our culture, it’s hard not to get caught up in the future. People are short-term future-oriented, but not long-term. I was thinking short-term, too, in this case. If I’d been long-term future-oriented, I probably would have taken a leave of absence from my job to go WWOOFing or to get an internship on a farm somewhere, to know, exactly, the hefty amount of work involved and to make a better decision. Right now, I’d probably have more of a cushion and some of the freedom to pursuit my heart’s calling(s) that go along with that freedom.

But who can say? The fact is, the tuition of life seldom comes cheap.

If it’s unwise to make such comparisons, then are there some comparisons that are wise to make?

I believe there are.

One is to gauge where we are and where we’ve been. This is maybe the most useful comparison to make so long as we do it without self-judgment and self-recriminations. Am I healthier today? How do I feel now compared to, say, five years ago? If the answer is yes, you feel it in your heart. You may feel a sense of peace, a lightness or lightheartedness, of appreciation for what life offers, for your own particular experience of the world, no matter the shade of the experience, dark or light.

If the answer is no, then you need to decide where to work. I suppose feeling good about oneself comes primarily from spending a lot of time alone with oneself, to know whatever it might be that you need to know: I’m good. I’m a good person. I’m attractive in my own way. I have enough. I appreciate the life I’ve been given. I allow the highest good for me to come forth.

It’s important that we do this for our sanity, for our health. Comparing ourselves with others, we will always fall short. Always. If we persist in making such comparisons and if we persist in allowing these to drive us, we find ourselves on the far side of the human function curve where the gap between our actual ability—whatever it may concern—and our intended performance begins to expand and we, as the Institute of HeartMath points out, neglect our need for rest, create more inner turmoil, and eventually head into a state of depletion.

I have seldom been satisfied with anything that I have achieved. I feel sad as I consider this now, because my lack of satisfaction has certainly made my life less joyous than it could be. Even one of my mentors used to say, “You’re only as good as what you write next.”

Reading that back now, it seems silly to me. And, yet, I know quite well where it comes from. In future posts, I’ll explore how to turn around the conflict that stems from the head’s “It needs to be this way,” and the heart’s pursuit of living moment to moment.

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2 thoughts on “Comparisons to Discard, Comparisons Worth Making, Part 2

  1. Hi Leigh. I have enjoyed reading this series of posts on Comparison. Thanks being so open, honest and sharing your vulnerability around this. I have found that one of the things that keeps me in the head rather than the heart is the need to keep up the facade that everything is okay or status quo and that it is in being open and authentic that I am able to move deeper into the heart. It’s not always easy to do living in a world and culture that has a lot of definitions about what life should look like and what success means. Your sharing really speaks to how we can set ourselves up personally as well as socially in terms of our standards or expectations. Clearly, it is a journey and I truly believe seeing this type of pattern is a big moment of awakening.

    Two Books come to mind that have helped me along these lines, one is “There’s Wrong With You: Going Beyond Self-Hate” by Cheri Huber, a Zen Meditation Teacher and the other is “Your Life Is A Gift: So Make The Most Of It” by Ken Keyes, Jr. Both are simply written but speak to the need to move beyond the voices of self-judgment and comparison. Ken Keyes speaks about shifting your addictions to preferences as a way to move beyond our attachment to how things “should” or need to be. That feels like a big part of the process for me. Just allowing myself to accept that things don’t need to be a certain way opens the space for how things are and where I am am to become more alive and beautiful.

    As always, I appreciate your explorations and insights into life on earth. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, Beth. I appreciate your sharing the book suggestions and your take on being open to just allowing things (and people) to be as they are. An alternative take on Bob Dylan: Throw my perceptions out the window, throw my definitions out there, too. Throw my syllables out the door, I don’t need them anymore….If we entrain ourselves to feelings of gratitude, care, love, not words, perhaps the shift will come a little easier. Still, here I am using words. That is not a little amusing!

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