One of the best gifts of spring is the heralding of summer just around that bend in the road. And living in a cold climate with a darker, colder and drawn out winter makes the bright, hot days of summer seem like the prize for making it through another year of seasonal cartwheels. We switch from snow pants to capris and from Boots to flip-flops in what seems like a blink of an eye. Many people love winter and snow and outdoor fun. I am not one of those people. If I dare to compare—winter is the yucky veggies and summer is the dessert.
The game of comparison
Why not dare to compare? The world is full of opposites and contradictions, what’s wrong with acknowledging them? Nothing. Cold is the absence of heat and dark is the absence of light, comparison is very helpful in defining each of those states. When I was teaching my kids their primary colours, red and blue were easier to name than green and blue, because in comparison red was more different to blue than green, so comparison played a role in their learning. These, however, are concrete concepts. The problem with comparison is when we apply it to people.
The great Mark Twain said “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
People are as dynamic as the weather. People are not concrete. We are very fluid in that we are constantly changing from one year to the next, from one day to the next. We are human beings being human. And being is a verb. Being is action. We are growing and learning and expanding, our cells reproduce and die, and we find new things to like and new people to spend time with. None of us are the same person today that we were yesterday. Yet, we take the instinct of comparing apples to oranges and use it on someone who is in a constant state of change.
All the parenting books tell us not to compare our children, but we do. I do. Who walked first, who talked first, who weighed more at birth. And if I don’t say it out loud (because I have read enough of those books to have some idea what I’m doing) I do make note in my mind as to which child has the higher grades in math. Yet, I can honestly say, when someone asks me who my favourite child out of my four kids is, that I do not have a favourite. Some days I may like one child a little less, but it’s usually because of what is going on with them that day. A moment in time. Nothing resets a mother’s love-o-meter like seeing their child’s angelic face as they sleep. Having four kids taught me that with every new day comes a new challenge, and a few more new reasons to love.
I can tell you that in both my career and my personal life, the issue I see the most, with women especially, is a desperate lack of self-worth. And I am right in there with the rest of them. I don’t know why. I have some theories that relate to culture and media and the messages we hear from the time we are born, but my theories are not tested and the solutions of changing a whole culture is not a quick fix. What I do know is that mixed in with this lack of self-worth is a tendency to compare ourselves with other women. The airbrushed beauties in magazines, the seemingly perfect people on television, the former ballerina in yoga class that perfects the King Pigeon pose, the other mothers in the park who seem to have it all together.
They seem to have it all together.
Yet we are comparing ourselves to appearances. Comparing our dynamic selves with good moments and bad moments to what someone chooses to allow us to see of their dynamic life for a short time. I can assure you that the airbrushed model has had her heart broken at least once in her life, and she made the ugly cry face but no one was there to take a picture of it. And when that ballerina has to push out a 10lbs baby she is going to be screaming just like the rest of us did during childbirth. The model is no more or less worthy of love and happiness when she is smiling for the camera or crying herself to sleep. She is worthy because she is human. Being human is imperfection and that is the gift. She is worthy because she is imperfect. You are worthy because you are an imperfect human being. We have to drop this crazy notion that there is such a thing as perfection and embrace being who we are—an ever changing, ever evolving human being, being human.
Since this is my last Spring Cleaning for the Soul post I wanted to thank Candace publicly for giving me a voice this month. It has been a blast! I also wanted to let you know that I am running an online Webinar for the month of June called Mom’s Mind Body Makeover. If you are ready to honour your self-worth and give yourself a Mother’s day gift you can sign-up here.
Tammy Plunkett uses the knowledge gained from her careers as a registered nurse and an alternative healer, and her studies of psychology and spirituality to inspire others through her talks and her book Being Human: Inspiration for Balancing Mind Body and Spirit. She is also the Founder and CEO of Inspiration4 Inc. which produces the content driven website inspirationformindbody.com all while happily raising her four children with her loving husband.