Do you catch yourself comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides?
“Oh my gosh, every time I see her, she is so happy. She doesn’t have the kind of problems I have – I feel miserable.”
“Their family has it all together. They just wouldn’t understand my situation.”
“I don’t even want to talk to them because I wish I had it as easy as they do.”
I imagine that we have always compared ourselves to others since the dawn of time, but I hear comments like this more and more with the surge of social media.
Through the kind of work that I do, people often share their troubles with me. There is no one, NO ONE, walking in my door who hasn’t had some sort of pain, major stress, trauma, medical condition, fear, worry, or insecurity. But people still have illusions that so-and-so has it all together and they don’t feel like they measure up in comparison.
How many times have you gone out into the world putting on a happy face when really you were suffering on the inside? If you look at your own photo album on Facebook, are most of your pictures happy, smiling, fun, interesting, or vacation-related? Isn’t it possible that the person you envy or resent or avoid has a burden of their own that they are struggling with?
Many times I hear from patients, “I must be the only one with so many problems – I must be the most messed up person or complex case you have ever met.” What is going through my mind when I hear that is “if you only knew how many others have shared similar concerns, you wouldn’t feel alone in this.”
With the epidemic of chronic diseases as well as common fears and worries about families, finances, and tragedies, I can tell you that you are not alone in your suffering. I don’t say this with the intent to bring us down, but to connect us. Each person I work with wants to have their best life possible and it’s the day-to-day that makes an impact – getting out of pain, having a sense of purpose and belonging, not feeling isolated and alone.
What will you do the next time you catch yourself comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides?