Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Comparison, the Thief of Joy!

I'm sure we've all been there.  You know, the place between feeling confident and sure of where you are and the feelings of inadequacy as you look at what another mother/family is doing.

Comparison.  Judgements. Negative Self-Talk.  Doubting.  These are just a few of the places we can find ourselves.  Why do we keep falling into this space?

This isn't a space I often find myself now--I'm grateful for the growth over the years--but when I do look up and see that I'm 'here' how do I move back into the space of contentment?  What things do I say to myself to put things back into perspective; to find my balance; to find contentment?

Here are a few tips I've learned over the years, specifically with regards to learning and teaching your own (homeschooling).  Please note: this can be adapted to your life in general.

1.  Remember that you and your family are uniquely made.  What makes your family special is exactly what keeps you from being exactly like any other family.  This isn't to say that what is working for another family can't/won't work for yours.  However, if it doesn't, you shouldn't beat yourself up.  That family is not your family!

2. The reality is that we ALL are tempted to compare ourselves at some point or another.  You are not alone in feeling this way and should be kind to yourself by not beating yourself up.  This is no good from anyone (you, your family, others).

3. Ask God for help in embracing the uniqueness of your family.

4. Take a loving look at your family.  What do each of your family members bring to your family?  How do these gifts, talents, strengths, etc. add to the overall uniqueness of your household?  Can you imagine your life without these beautiful people in it?

5. Spend time setting realistic goals for your family based on what you know about them.  (Does it make sense to copy another family's plan when they are quite different from your own?)  Communicate with your spouse/partner and children about these goals and allow their input.  Allow them to help shape what your homeschooling journey looks like.

6. Keep what works, let go of what doesn't.  There is no need to keep doing something when it's clear it's not working.  Sometimes we want to do something so badly (maybe because it's working so well for someone else) that we forget what works for our individual children.  Don't force something that just isn't a good fit for your family.

7. Remember your sense of humor and use it (often) when you find yourself in the comparison place. It may be hard to laugh, when you're feeling so overwhelmed and depressed about things not turning out like you'd want it to.  But when you're really honest with yourself, you may be able to see the humor in trying to turn your household into an exact replica of someone else's.

8.  Find encouragement from others.  One of the great things about the homeschooling community nowadays is that there are many homeschooling parents who blog and offering encouragement (such as this) to those beginning or simply needing some support.  Reading blogs of encouragement can be helpful when you're in the comparison place.*  Finding a network of families in person can also be a great place of support as well.  Talking with and listening to moms who know what you're going through can help you see the humor in things.

It's not fun to find yourself in the place of comparing.  Comparison is definitely a thief of your joy.  So be encouraged.  You are just where you're supposed to be.

Have you been in the place lately?  What things have helped you get out of it?  I'd love for you to share a tip or two as we all have something to share that can benefit others.  Thanks in advance for taking a moment to comment below.

*Special note regarding reading others' blogs: be careful that you focus on the positive encouragement that is being offered and not all the wonderful photos/activities/posts about what that family is doing.  This can actually make you sink deeper into your negative feelings of comparison.  I've learned this the hard way and wanted to share that tidbit with you! :-)

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