Let me remember that each life must follow its own course, and that what happens to other people has absolutely nothing to do with what happens to me.--Marjorie Holmes
Comparisons are irresistible but insidious, odious, and very often our self-torture of choice.
Today, let's meditate on not coveting our neighbor's spouse, physical body, home, clothes, income, or career. Not to mention their achievements, awards, recognition, and fame. Usually it's only one person whose bounteous blessings push our buttons of raging insecurity; we really don't care if most of the world has more than we have, we only care that they have and we have not. Often the subject of our hostility is not personally known to us, though the life they lead in print is. Secretly we stalk the newspapers and magazines accumulating evidence of their good fortune. Or they could be one of your friends (deepest sympathy) which is horrendous, because you must hear firsthand accounts of all you're missing at the moment. Whoever they are, they are the devil in disguise, because you insist on measuring your life, success, bank account, and self worth against theirs.
Obviously, I couldn't ruminate on coveting, jealousy, envy, and making oneself utterly miserable with comparisons unless I was vaguely familiar with this sin against authenticity. (All right, intimately familiar.) Would you believe my favorite poem (and probably that of every other writer in the world) is Clive James's funny, spiteful ode, "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered"?
This is not good. This is not enlightenment. We're grown adults. We're bigger than this. Aren't we?
Well, even if we aren't, comparisons hurt us in profound ways. They undermine our confidence. Shut down our flow of creative energy. Short-circuit our access to Power. Deplete our self-esteem. Suck the life force from our marrow. Coveting destroys what is Sacred within. Instead of comparing yourself to another person, why not just take a wet leather lash and beat yourself senseless? It's easier to recover from physical abuse than self-inflicted psychic brutality.
The next time you're tempted to compare your life to another's, pause for a moment. Remind yourself, over and over, that there is no competition on the spiritual plane. The blessings your nemesis has received also can be yours as soon as you are really ready to receive with an open heart all the good fortune created just for you.
And when will that be? As soon as you can bless the person you secretly curse; as soon as you can give thanks for their happiness and success as much as your own because it demonstrates the abundance of Real Life.
-Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy©1995
Paying attention to - and learning from - someone else's experience greatly reduces the costly tuition for the School of Hard Knocks--Mark Peters
Not everyone moves forward with us when we make changes in our life. Nor can we make anyone go along with us when we make those changes. It is difficult when we really want something for someone, but they do not see how good things could be if they would make a choice that, to us, seems perfectly logical and simple. Changing ourself, allowing ourself to grow while other seek their own path is how we have the most beneficial impact on people we care deeply about.
It doesn't help us to stay where we are, without change, just because someone we are close to doesn't see or understand what we are going through. The potential for helping others is far greater when we detach our emotions from the problem, when we work on our own growth and improvement, and allow them to pursue theirs.
Sometimes we need to leave them behind for a time, or for the rest of our life, in order to walk our Path. That can be a difficult but necessary choice. Forcing someone to make a choice most often only causes them to dig in their heels and resist the change. We won't be dragged, pushed or shamed into making something happen in our life. Until it is a conscious and positive choice, we just won't do it. Why should that be different for those that we love?
Traveling baggage-free on the journey through life makes the trip easier. Hanging on to old resentments, angers, relationships with unfinished business, feelings of victimization, hurt or longing - these are things that are in the past and need to stay there. They are heavy loads which will slow us down. Look at each of them carefully, to see if you have learned the true lesson which those experiences have tried to teach you - then let them go. You will then be free to move on to new, more rewarding experiences.
Live in the past, or be present in the now so that we can thrive in the future? Not a hard choice. Wish there was a way to somehow finish all of the old business of the past? We have to let that go, too. Some things just can't be fixed. Some are not worth the effort of fixing. Some will be fixed on their own, without our help. Leave them to the Cosmic Clean-up Crew. You have bigger and better things to move on to, don't you?
Letting it go is a cleansing and healing process, opening us to the best that today and tomorrow have to offer us.
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