Why do I feel bad when I compare myself to perfect people?

I know, I know, there are no perfect people.

That is what I tell myself when I am comparing myself to the woman standing in front of me in the check out line in Whole Foods.  A beautiful 60-ish woman, who is toned (specifically no giggle arm or belly), artistic yet casually dressed, well spoken with kind words to the check-out woman and the guy bagging her well chosen groceries. I am certain she has kept her girlish figure even though I imagine she has birthed babies.

I think her oldest is probably a brain surgeon who has developed a miracle non invasive procedure to help menopausal women remember their children’s birth dates. Her youngest is most likely a rocket scientist who is developing a garbage collecting space rocket to gather all the crap we have imagesleft up there…as evidenced in the movie Gravity — the debris blowing Sandra Bullock dangerously far away from the mother ship. This woman smiles warmly, with perfectly straight still white teeth, as she hands me the separator that will distinguish her stuff from mine.

She is not perfect. I am sure. I tell myself she has problems too. I even begin to make up some fictitious dilemma to soothe my screaming ego. I bet she can’t eat a whole bag of chocolate covered pretzels while watching a Big Bang rerun.

I always lose when I play the comparison game because I judge myself against people I decide are better than me, smarter than me, wealthier, funnier, cuter. As I age I compare myself with others who can get off the floor faster or remember where they parked their car.

So why do I do it? Why do you? I know that you do…but if miraculously you don’t, don’t tell me, cuz I will compare myself to you.

Perhaps it is the grass is always greener…or the 1960’s parenting technique of comparing kids to their more successful sibling or neighbor kid in an attempt to motivate Junior to learn his spelling words.

It is a lousy motivational technique.

In my family I was the shining star. The Hero child. It was as good a role as any, I guess, but I always had to succeed. Do well. Bring home accolades. And when I did, my brother, who was the Rebel child, hated me more each day. I came to learn that being the object of comparison sucks too.

Either way we lose.

Either way we feel bad about ourselves.

The truth is we don’t know what goes on for others. What we tell ourselves is simply a story that we have make up. Some of it may be true, most of it probably is not.

How do you feel when you compare yourself to another? 
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I confess…

…after being called out on it…

…that  last weeks re-post of my first 2010 post was a lame attempt to seem engaged when Iimageswasn’t. It was also kindly brought to my attention that I was still celebrating my 100th post at post # 102.

Can’t blame a gal for trying…

So here’s the truth.

I confess…I had nothin’ to say. NOTHIN’.  I had paid attention all week to events that occurred and nothing captured my attention or  my heart. Nothing stirred me. So I wrote about going to dinner with another couple and how I didn’t enjoy myself. The spin I took in the 600 word masterpiece was how it was me I didn’t enjoy. Not them. I was astutely noticing that when I say, I didn’t enjoy myself, I often make it about the other, when it is really me that was being a poop. I spent 2 ½ hours Sunday morning, using my evolved hunt and peck typing skills to write this brilliant piece. At 2 hours and 45minutes I reread it and said, “Who gives a crap?”

I was tired of myself. I felt self absorbed and whiny. I was impersonating someone who had something of importance to say. Like I said earlier, I had nothing.

So I reposted.

Secondly, I confess…about a month ago I had a stalker. He contacted me through Facebook, snail mail, phone, Psychology Today and finally here, my precious blog, where I bare myself to you. Where I use names and places of my dear ones. Did you notice in the post, I just went for a salad and got a life lesson, I didn’t say what grocery store I was in? That was purposeful. I was scared. I didn’t want him knowing where I shop.

Since then he has been caught, reprimanded and has stopped contacting me. But, my hesitancy — about what this means to my blog and how should I proceed — has not been resolved inside of me. Perhaps I was naive to think I could put myself into the cyber world and not have something creepy happen. My sense of good will and safety has been shaken. Now, instead of thinking about each of you as I write, I have to push him out of my head.

My therapist reminded me how much I love to write. He also helped me to remember what this blog means to me. He encouraged me to persevere, to not to give up what I love out of fear. I love him.

Finally, I confess…I wonder if anyone out there is reading this? Some of you tell me how much you enjoy being Boswell — which very honestly keeps me writing, but as you can see there are no comments. I started bB to have conversation. Some of you may remember Conversation Cafe where Jodi and I, for 2 years, made space for women to gather and talk about heart felt issues. That was a very special event for us and for the woman that attended. I hoped bB would invite conversation too.

So the truth is, I want/need something from you. Talk to me. Talk to each other. Make this your place too. I’m feeling lonely out here all by myself…

Also, tell a your friends about bB. Send them links to your favorite posts. I have been working to build readership by figuring out SEO’s (search engine optimization), increasing FB page likes and daily tweeting. This exhausts me and my head feels like it is going to explode. Recently, when I was close to detonation, a left brained man suggested I stop all that and use word of mouth. My energy returned and my head remained on my shoulders. I never wanted to do all the shenanigans and contortions the blog world requires. I just wanted to write for you, and for me.

So would you help me build my readership? Please?

That is my confession. I never quite understood the value of my Catholic friends going to confession, but I think I understand now. I feel better after having leveled with you.

Thanks for listening. Would love to hear from you : )

 

 
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What is Good Enough?

I am sitting with Clea this morning, waiting for the vet to come make a final house call.

 

Yesterday I sat with Clea, eye to eye, nose to nose, asking her if it was time for her to go. Her empty gaze, dilated pupils said it all. It is time.

 

I think. Is it? I hope I am reading this right. How do I know for sure?

 

I worry I should be doing something special, a ritual of good bye, a meaningful something for Clea. Truthfully, not for Clea but for me. To ease my pending guilt when I accuse myself tomorrow morning of not doing everything I could to save her, of helping her go peacefully, for euthanizing her to early, when I tell myself now it is too late and it is my fault. (Whatever the IT may be.)

 

I foresee this self destructive berating on my horizon. I have beat myself silly though out my life with other perceived infractions. So, I am attempting preemptive action.  I am writing to you as Clea lies next to me. It is the only thing I want to do. It is the only thing I can think of to do. It is my way of comforting myself.

 

Clea is the last of the family pets. With her passing she takes with her the last connection to the family home, the family we once were, the way things were supposed to be. Again I feel guilt. I sold the family home, I divorced my kids father and changed the family unit forever. Granted Clea would still be dying even if we lived in Chalk Hill, but at least the safety net of original family and home would be there.

 

You may be realizing by now, as am I, I have a very close relationship with guilt. Somehow it all becomes my fault…my not doing it right…my missing something…my something. Tom says he wishes I weren’t so hard on myself.

 

The logical question is how come I am?

 

My therapist says it is because I never believe I’m good enough. He is right. The truth is I can never be good enough because I keep moving the bar. Upping the ante.

 

This keeps me in a perpetual state of pushing. Like Sisyphus. Except, unlike this bad boy, I don’t do it as a punishment for tricking the gods, I do it because excepting what is, without guilt, let’s me off a hook I value. The hook is a false sense of power, control, ability to change life so the day turns out better.

 

What if I let myself trust I am doing my best with Clea? And what if my best is all I have? What if it is all any of us really have? At the end of the day.

 

So I will do my best even when it isn’t good enough. And I will live with that. Some days more comfortably than others.

 

Today I feel very sad about my best.

I found this and wanted to share it with you….

Apparently a man-who must have been living in a cave- finally realizes the truth about menstruating women…and he is none to happy. So he writes a facebook comment to a manufacturer of feminine hygiene products, that advertise periods as calm, enjoyable, companionable times of a woman’s month, to complain about their false advertising. The company responds with a very funny video…

 

www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/bodyform-feminine-hygiene_n_1970565.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women#slide=448184

 

And for some more laughs…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueC6uWulAOU

The Art of Receiving

I went to a Yin Yogassage class. (Yoga with massage.) It was amazing. It was so good that for the rest of the day I could do nothing else but feel peaceful and care for myself. I moved more slowly, felt the hot shower on my shoulders and back, tasted the tuna sandwich I made, laid on the couch with Clea, my cat and didn’t obsess about all the things I needed to be doing. I was in my body in a sweet way.

 

Jill, the yin yoga instructor, spoke throughout the 2 hour class about the ART of receiving. It was as though I had never heard that concept before. Perhaps I was in such a relaxed state I received it differently. Regardless, I felt the truth in her words. She  said that when we are completely receiving we are able to give completely. I know I knew this, but twisted like a pretzel, Brad the massage therapist coaxing my muscles to let go into the pose, I GOT IT.

 

Have you ever had a similar experience? All of a sudden what you thought you knew morphs into your cell tissue and becomes one with you? It transforms knowing to KNOWING. In that moment I realized she was right, it is an art. One I am not so sure I am that good at.

 

I tend to interrupt my art of receiving with my life long belief systems that I was so generously given by my family. Makes me wonder why we receive and hold on to some beliefs and not others. Perhaps it is the first ones that get in there are the ones to take root. Some of mine are;

 

I don’t deserve it,

 

I will have to give back…bigger and better,

 

I will like it, get used to it and it will go away-the other shoe will drop.

 

Do you say any of these things to yourself? (Or is it true-my other belief-I am the only one who has this kind of thinking. Everyone else gets it…)

 

As a result of this class I have been challenging myself and my beliefs to stretch. As I practice this art, some days more fluidly than and so calm they both are...others, I realize receiving begins at home. I must give to myself first. I will put on my oxygen mask before I help you with yours. (I was so glad that instruction was never tested when I was traveling with my kids.)

 

And, when I fail miserably, gasping for air because I just couldn’t do it, I must offer myself the grace not to be Picasso. I find that grace and forgiveness, of and toward myself, has actually increased my ability to receive more fully from you.

 

So I guess I will attend to myself first so I have more to give to you.

 

I don’t think it works the other way around.

Don’t Always Believe What You Think

We all do it. We make up stories. We conjure what others think of us, we invent what will happen if we speak up or take action, and we ruminate on what someone meant when they said, “that,” to us. The problem with all this is…almost always, 99.9% of the time, more often than not, the story we make up leaves us feeling like doggy poop! We tell ourselves the worst possible scenarios, with the most devastating endings. We heckle ourselves with, “They said that because they don’t like me, I am so weird, no one really cares anyway.” We conclude, “Something awful is about to happen (I will lose my job, be left, be rejected).” At the end of all this we feel very, very bad about ourselves.

 

Sound familiar?

 

Recently I made up the story that everything I said in my meditation class was really stupid. What every one else said was eloquent and enlightening. I didn’t stop there. I told myself that no one really cared what I had to say anyway. As I looked around the room I could read on my classmates faces that they agreed with me. “See,” I said to myself, “I am right, so just keep quiet. Don’t say another thing.”

 

I am what you may call a sophisticated self criticizer. I corroborate my story by interpreting the other persons non verbal cues-body language. “See they blinked, that means they are secretly rolling their eyes. They crossed their arms, everyone knows what that means. They cleared their throat…they sat down, they stood up, they scratched their nose.” I could go on and on. The beauty of this is it is one more way I tell myself my story is right. How I love to be right!

 

The truth, however, was I had no idea what my classmates were thinking about me. I just knew what I told myself they were thinking. Worse yet, I believed myself. I noticed what I told myself they were thinking sounded an awful lot like what I was saying about myself. “What a stupid thing to say, no one cares…” Hmmm. I see a pattern here.

 

I say nasty things to myself then tell myself some one else is saying it to me. Very clever, my dear Patricia. What a system. Too bad I lose…every single time.

 

My solution? If I am going to make up a story, make it a kind one. One that leaves me feeling loved and respected. Instead of assuming what I say is stupid, what if I assumed someone in the class liked what I said and that it had value to them?

 

In graduate school, my mentor, Ed Jacobs told me, “50% of the people are alway going to like you and 50% of the people are always not going to like you. Why not stand with the 50% that like you?” If I took his advise my stories, albeit still made up, would leave me wanting to hang out with myself.

 

I will no longer believe everything I think. Unless it is kind.

 

Mr. Volvo

The other morning Tom and I were headed to work.  We have been riding together since Tom’s car was totaled, Halloween morning, by a young kid who ran a red light. Since then we have been a one car family. At first this was very difficult for me. Truth be told, I hated it. I liked my time in the car alone. I could drive in silence, listen to music, a book or a conference on CD. My choice. I usually used the time to think, take stock. With Tom in the car it wasn’t my space anymore. However, during some of our morning commutes we had great conversation, caught up on things with each other, or made plans for the evening or week. Sometimes it was really nice. I enjoyed our company. So both experiences were true for me.

 

 

Anyway, this particular morning, as we headed up Bigelow Blvd traffic began to slow. It was still moving but slower than usual. Ahead of us I noticed an older Volvo, changing lanes, speeding up only to have to brake because both lanes were moving slowly, and honking his horn. At one point he was waving his arms in the air above his head. I wondered who was steering his car. He was clearly upset. Being the well trained defensive driver(thank you Mr Anderson) that I am, I tried to determine what had Mr Volvo so upset. Was he seeing something dangerous I wasn’t aware of? My assessment of the situation was that everyone was going slower, but at a constant rate of speed. Odd for this stretch of the road, but not dangerous to me.

 

I commented to Tom, “This guy is really upset.” Continue reading

I AM NICE!

Many years ago-sounds a bit like the beginning of a fairy tale-the foundation of who I was, or thought I was, crumbled. I grabbled with the question, “Who am I?” I felt the enormity of the question, as well as, my terror of not knowing the answer or, worse yet, how to find the answer. My illusions had died and I didn’t have a replacement reality. I felt like a blank slate.

 

Because I am a visual person (that much I did know about myself) I envisioned my blank slate status as a big, yellow legal pad. With that image in mind, I drove to Staples, found a tablet and bought it. My plan was to notice myself and document who I met. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the project and a lot scared at the blankness of the tablet before me. I also remember some excitement at the prospect of defining myself rather than being defined by others.

 

So, I took my pad with me where ever I went.

Continue reading