A friend of mine was telling me how she had to cut her mother out of her life. “I was angry every time I had to interact with her, and I finally realized it was no good for anyone.” I know a few people who have had to do the same thing. It’s not easy, but sometimes, when you’ve tried everything else, it’s the healthiest thing to do all around.
My friend had spent years trying to make it work with her mother, and finally realized it was a losing battle. A relationship is a two-way street, and her mother wasn’t even on the same road. She had to do what was right for herself, and that’s always the best decision you can make. It’s the only road to happy. Here was the thing though, her husband had an excellent relationship with his mother. She looked at that and wished her it was different for herself. She was comparing her circumstance to her husband’s, even though she KNEW she’d made the best decision for herself. That comparison made her unhappy.
Comparing is the fastest way to unhappy.
This is something I see over and over again with clients and other people in my life. They either find someone who is lesser to compare themselves to which gives a false sense of superiority; or they compare themselves to someone else who seems to be doing better and feel unhappy. That’s when I told her, “That’s not your puzzle.” She looked as confused as you’re probably feeling with that statement right now.
Here’s my theory. Our lives are made up of puzzle pieces that we find and click into place to make our lives take direction. Our skills, values, beliefs, and experiences all fit together to make up the person we are and the life we lead. Sometimes it’s really easy, and all the pieces fit in quickly, and sometimes you just can’t seem to find the right ones. Or you hit that really tough that takes forever to get through and is really difficult. Then we look at someone else’s puzzle and we see that their’s looks like it’s coming together perfectly, and we think ours should look like that too. But just like us, they have areas that click and some that don’t, and spending time looking at someone else’s puzzle means you’re not taking the time to solve yours. Sure they might have pieces that look like yours, but you need to find the one like that, that belongs to your puzzle, otherwise it won’t fit.
In other words, you have to go inside to see if that piece is something you need to work on. And sometimes you need someone else’s help to find that piece of the puzzle. I got to be that person for my friend. What she really wanted when we dug into it, was unconditional love. In her mind, that is what a mother is supposed to give, and so she thought was a piece missing from her puzzle. But when we explored it together, she realized that while she didn’t get it from her mother, she did get unconditional love from her own children and her husband. And in fact, when we looked even closer, she also had some wonderful friends in her life who loved her unconditionally. She had that puzzle piece, she just didn’t realize it because it was a different shape, had different colours, and it fit into a different part of her puzzle. So when you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else and feeling unhappy, start examining your own puzzle. That piece might already be there just waiting for you to find it and fit it into exactly the right place in your puzzle.
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