Surviving Comparison (Guest Post)

The emerging blogger series on Mental Health @ Home -background image of cherry blossoms

In this emerging blogger post, Kimberley Mulley from Choose Transformation writes about managing the threat comparison poses to well-being.

I truly believe that comparison presents as much of a threat to health and well-being, as any health condition.

In the animal kingdom, often the biggest, strongest, most colourful male has the best chances of reproducing and ultimately, ensuring survival of his lineage. Perhaps this was also the case for early humans and evolution has developed us in such a way that we are left with only a subconscious drive to be bigger and stronger than those around us. Alternatively, I could be talking out of my arse.

Within every hierarchical social structure, there have probably been people longing to be more like those in the social class above. I’m sure even those at the top might have longed occasionally for the perceived freedom and anonymity of the lower classes.

Psychologically, as a middle child, I am a text book example of why people grow up to be jealous. The constant competition for attention, against the precious older sister and the spoilt baby sister. Did you know there was a Middle Child Day? No-one remembers it…

I’m hardwired to feel envious of anyone who I perceive to get handed everything on a plate. There must be a scale of people like me, likely to be envious of others; from people who went without as a child, to those who were privileged and taught that to be the best, you have to have the best.

Comparison happens all the time. I’ve lost count of the amount of times in the last month, I’ve heard: “I wish I had her figure” and “Everyone on my Facebook is either pregnant or getting married!”

We are all aware that social media can be used as a platform for promoting happiness and encouraging empathy. If by happiness, we mean unrealistic expectations and by empathy, we mean raging, hulk green, jealousy. I enjoy my social media, but I recognise how inadequate it makes me feel sometimes. The irony that something called social media, can make you feel so lonely!

I can’t yet afford to join the property ladder like others my age have, my husband and I haven’t fallen pregnant yet (more me than him, obviously), I don’t have DD breasts under my chin like those Instagram models, that I can rest my cup of tea between when I’m tired, I can’t afford to do a Masters’ degree, I can’t have a Grade II listed cottage in the countryside with a log burner and Aga, private garden and willow tree over looking a lake, with a rowing boat and a Newfoundland named Bear…!!

How utterly, ridiculously privileged I sound. I feel guilty when I spare a thought for what I am so very fortunate to have. My amazing, chaotic family. My wonderful husband. The fact that I have the luxury of a roof over my head and live in a country that gives me the freedom to live and love freely. That there is air in my lungs and blood in my heart and that I have the choice to make today my own. All a matter of perspective, clouded by jealousy.

Young people in particular, have such immense pressure upon them now; to look, act and think a certain way; that’s usually unachievable. This has probably contributed to the suicide rate in the UK amongst under 25’s, being at an all time high. It isn’t surprising that people suffer with anxiety and depression, all the time that they are being encouraged to think that they are not enough as they are. Comparison is deadly.

I wish that beneath every post and video and picture, were the words:

You’re not behind, you’re right on time and YOU ARE ENOUGH, AS YOU ARE.

Everyone is travelling at their own pace in life, it isn’t a competition. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, it’s variety that makes life interesting. We don’t need to change ourselves for anyone- fuck their beige expectations! Sweetheart, we were made for multicolour.

Kim Mulley of Choosing Transformation

Kim is a Mental Health Nurse from the UK. Her blog, ‘Choose Transformation’, follows her attempts to manage her own Anxiety by introducing Mindfulness into her life, inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s, ‘Transforming Suffering into peace, joy and liberation’. Her series of video diaries and associated articles, offer a uniquely balanced, personal and professional perspective of living with Anxiety and Depression.

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