Why We Compare & Despair & How to Stop

Jul 23, 2021

If you have friends or acquaintances who are widowed, it’s easy to look around and decide that you’re doing grief wrong.

She’s dating already. The idea of dating makes me sick.

She’s at every social event. I can hardly get dressed.

She says she’s doing fine. For me it hurts to exist.

Or perhaps it’s the opposite:

She hardly leaves her house. I must not have loved my husband enough.

She can’t stop crying. Should I really be dating already?

In any case, compare almost always leads to despair. With nearly every comparison, we can easily come to one conclusion:

Something must be wrong with me.

So why do we do it? We are hard wired to compare ourselves to others. Back in the day, fitting in to the social circle meant survival. To be different was to risk becoming an outcast, which meant certain death. Being a part of a tribe equaled safety and security. Our primitive brains still operate on version 1.0 programming, so we’re still inclined to compare ourselves to others and we have an innate desire to fit in.

Luckily, another part of the brain – the prefrontal cortex – is more familiar with the current times. It’s that part of the brain that very logically knows that everyone’s journey is different. Every human is unique, which makes every marriage unique, which makes grief as distinct as a fingerprint.

Next time your brain suggests that you’re different (and therefore, doing it wrong), be ready with other thoughts that are true for you. Here are some possibilities. Decide which feel true to you or create your own list.

  • I will not compare their highlight reel with my behind-the-scenes reality.
  • Every human, marriage and grief journey are different.
  • My journey is right for me.
  • Their story is not my story.
  • I am exactly where I need to be right now.

Notice what are you not doing when you’re looping in compare and despair. You’re likely not caring for your own needs, considering what you want for yourself in this life you are living now, or making strides toward healing. Comparison has a cost.

Like never before, it’s important to stay in your own lane. No matter what you see others doing, it’s best to navigate grief your way, on your timeline, on your terms.

If you are convinced that you’re doing it “wrong,” or you simply want to take bigger strides, I understand. My coaching program, Life Reconstructed, can help. If you’re ready to try something different in order to get different results, simply click here and we’ll see if it’s a fit.

Learn more about Life Reconstructed.

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