For some reason human beings are wired to compare. This insatiable need to compare what we have, what we do, what we believe, what we say, and how we feel (and the associated don’ts to this list) creeps into our lives, robbing us of freedom and wreaking havoc in our relationships. I find that most of the time, we simply want to be validated. We want to be understood. We want to be seen. However, this validation is masked in knowledge—knowledge that our viewpoint is right and others are wrong. Take a look. “You wouldn’t understand, you only have one child.” “Oh, my child would never do that.” “Goodness, my children are so much harder than yours.” “If you had been through what I have been through, you would understand.” We’ve all been there. We are in a conversation and one person makes a statement that makes you feel like an ant. And the reverse is true as well. In an effort to have someone recognize our blood, sweat and tears, we put someone else down, hoping just for a moment someone will give us the pat on the back our soul desires.
So what’s the byproduct of this emotional tug-of-war? Suffering. Our words fall flat. We don’t get the pat on the back we desire. When we don’t get the desired validation, we further alienate by comparison—“they just don’t understand.” If we do receive support, we often feel patronized. How do I know this? I’ve been there a thousand times, as the offended and the offender. The mystery in this exchange of comparison is that no one wins—the offended is insulted and the offender’s thirst for validation is anything but quenched. Comparison is violence, violence against self and others. We create war within our relationships and an internal bubbling of wounds within ourselves.
What are we to do? This has been a decade-long process in my understanding of the answer to this question. The answer for me lies in the truth that it’s insanity to compare ones joys and struggles—it only leads to further suffering. One wise man once told me, “It’s not better or worse, it’s yours.” So, my hardships and struggles are not worse than yours, they are mine. Your hardships and struggles are not worse than mine, they are yours. Mine. Yours. We all have a journey, a story, a life filled with ups and downs. We must rest in the truth that we must give ourselves the validation that we need. We must understand ourselves. We must see ourselves. And more than anything, we must recognize that only God can give us the empathy, validation, and understanding which our heart desperately longs.
One committed to processing truth, finding light in the darkness, savoring the simple, and living fully.