This month I've decided to focus posts on comparison and the forms it can take. Comparison feels like a marathon. Sometimes I feel "ahead" and sometimes it seems I'm lagging. It wears me out, makes me winded and unlike a marathon, there's no end to it. It's a never-ending wearing out process that steals from us. No reward awaits women who compare themselves. But we still do it. I wanted to get inside someone else's head on this one and hear their thoughts on why this struggle nags women so much. Enter Melissa Risenhoover.
She's a friend and former co-podcaster for Cohesive Home (a minimalist community focused on living our your values). Now she's involved in creating her youtube presence. I cannot wait to see what she cooks up (pun intended - she talks about her plant-based lifestyle)! She's an amazing woman with talents worth comparing myself to, but I'll hold off on that and let her tell you how comparison isn't the way to go!
Q: What does comparison look like in your life?
A: For me comparison has always been physical. As long as I can remember I have looked at other girls/woman and compared my body to theirs. It isn't easy to admit but that is the truth. Even at 36 I still struggle with my body image and comparing myself to others. What's funny is most of my friends would probably be surprised by this. It isn't something I talk about or complain to my girlfriends about. I'm a 7 on the enneagram, so I am always in my head planning the future and at the same time open and friendly while avoiding negativity or bad feelings. So I try not to share my deep dark secrets with others. haha!! (Guess that's over!)
Q: Tell me about a specific time you felt you were "more like her."
A: Oh gosh, can we just say INSTAGRAM! Geez...I have really had to pray and ask God to give me confidence and peace about the mom, wife, friend that I am. Seeing others in that app sometimes makes me feel not good enough and want to throw the phone.
Q: How do you deal with those thoughts/emotions?
A: Recently I have made an effort to gain wisdom and knowledge from those women I see. The past year I took a long break from social media and it helped me gain perspective. Now that I am back on IG I feel like I can take a step back and see how these women are my equals and not someone above me because they have a cooler house than me, or are skinnier than I am.
Q: Have you seen success in letting go of comparison? If so, how?
A: It's a work in progress for sure, but I recently took a personality test that said to think of yourself as a child, how would you answer these questions at that time in your life. This was a mind shift for me. I found myself feeling so free! I loved being a kid. No worries, not needing to feel ashamed of my personality or any ideas I had. I don't think my core personality has changed much as I have grown older, however, comparing my reaction to then and now made me realize I need to not care as much about what people think.
Q: How do you think the culture encourages comparison?
A: I could say its the media but that would be the easy answer. The truth is our culture here in America is very different than that of other countries. When I lived in Germany it was such a different feeling among woman. The comparison was lifted, this was especially evident in France. Woman are not as competitive with one another, instead they are very grounded. Our culture as a whole creates boundaries around our things, our churches, our communities, our everything! When we do this we create comparison, instead of us being equals and in this together we create competition and discourse.
Q: How do you view your role as a mother of girls when you consider this issue?
A: Do I actually have to think about this? Don't make me!!! haha! I have two girls and they are quickly becoming very self aware and they listen to EVERYTHING I say. The words I choose to speak over myself and them is more important than ever. I'm not always perfect but knowing when to correct myself or explain myself a little deeper is very important. I am acutely aware of my words and how they edify my young girls.
As we take some time this month to unpack the issue of comparison, I hope you'll explore it in your own heart and ask yourself some probing questions. We have so much more to cover on this topic. If there's something specific you'd like to hear about don't hesitate to email me! What encourages you to compare? What's a trigger for you?