"Compare and despair" is a quote from one of the women who used to meet with the women's group that studied the steps at my house. I've never heard it from anyone else, but she may have heard it somewhere or maybe she made it up. But that little phrase has been a terrific defense against the judge in everyone's head that gives us a hard time when we see someone we think is better than we are. There's another saying in the recovery community: "Don't judge your insides by other people's outsides." That's another really good defense.
One of the readings in one of my meditation books yesterday reminded me of those sayings and I realized how grateful I should feel that I actually don't compare myself with other people anymore. I used to think there were people who did everything right most of the time and as a result lived charmed lives. Then one time I had the flu and was home from work for several days. I watched a whole lot of biographies on tv, and learned that even those people I assumed would have led charmed lives had many of the same painful experiences in their lives that I did in mine. Beverly Sills had a daughter who was deaf and would never be able to hear her sing. Paul Newman had had a child die. And on and on. Furthermore, they did not do everything right most of the time. They had made a lot of the same mistakes I had.
The main thing I learned from the women's meetings at my house (for over 10 years), was that although all of us were very different - in background, age, life circumstances, etc., we were very much the same on the inside. We had the same fears, had made similar horrendous mistakes in our lives, had had terribly difficult events to deal with, and on and on. Learning that really helped make me less judgmental of myself.
So today my endless struggles to be more organized, to exercise and eat right every day, to get all my chores done when they need to be done - well, at least I don't kick myself when I don't do everything right most of the time. Little by little, I get better and am grateful for progress.
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