Comparison is generally the fast track to unhappiness. Comparisons of the ideal relationship will lead to problems. It’s a recipe for misery. All it does is keep you focused on what you don’t like about yourself, your partner and your life. Ever since I made the decision to change career direction, I’ve tried to focus on my new path. I’ve pictured myself as a bull, because I knew that looking too much on the sides would only keep me side-tracked. Bulls steam straight ahead.
It worked for a while. While, I was in graduate school working on my doctorate, I kept my eyes on the prize. But, when I got married, relocated, got pregnant, loss my mother and father, it wasn’t so easy anymore. I caught myself glancing over to what other people had, and I didn’t. Analyzing where they were in life and I wasn’t. I had made the decision to rebuild my life from scratch, so of course, I was “behind” when comparing myself to my friends. The more I focused on their path, and not my own, the more I lost control. So, in this experience and in the numerous experiences of my clients, I have seen how comparison has torn many a relationship and life apart.
Out of control comparisons = Low-self-esteem.
Case Example- Let’s take the story of Sara and Jim. When Sarah compares her husband Jim to her friends husband Roger, she can’t help but notice that Roger is better at helping his children with homework. She also notices that Roger takes her friend out every Friday. Roger also makes more money. Sara slowly becomes resentful. Sarah comes home from work and asks husband, “why don’t you ask for that promotion at your job so that we can purchase that boat and hang out at the river with my friends”. Later that week, Sarah finds herself sitting at the table with her children helping with their homework and Jim walks by, heads to the fridge and grabs a beer. Sarah stops him and asks, “Why don’t you join us, the kids have never received any homework help from you”. …
Do you see where this is going? Keep your eye on the prize. We will tackle how this communication pattern will lead to lost love in your relationship in later chapters. However, I want you to be mindful of how important it is to not fall in that trap of comparisons. Comparisons distract you from focusing on the great things you are doing. Comparisons keep you moving forward towards your relationship goals.
Now let’s get to the psychology. I came across this great study that found that people compare their partner to others and this leads to significant consequences for the relationship. People who are low in self-partner overlap have difficulty maintaining a positive perception of their partner. This may be a key source of stress and conflict in people’s relationships. Penelop Lockwood’s study provides insight into developing interventions to address boosting partner perceptions as it applies to comparisons may help people cope with and overcome negative outcomes of comparing their partner to the Jones next door.
I want to provide you with some tips and tricks to avoid the comparison trap. This is my attempt at developing a coaching intervention that will help you work through comparison challenges and refocus your energy on who you are!
- Stop watering the grass of others! When we focus on other people, we lose time that we could otherwise invest in ourselves. How many conversations/thoughts have you had regarding someone else’s progress or situation in the last 24 hours?
- Get off of the internet or phone for a day. Electronics are blessing and a curse. Take some time to step away from the noise of the outside and focus on the inside. Social media can be a great source for inspiration. But, if it triggers inadequacy, self-doubt, and frustration, then choose to do a detox. Make sure you control social media and don’t let it control you.
- Love your past. The journey that you and your partner has taken together is unique, yours and undeniably meant to be. What have you learned and how have you grown from it?
- Know that this isn’t the end of the movie. If you are not happy, this doesn’t have to be the end, it can be the beginning. Where you are today doesn’t say anything about where you’ll be in one or three years from now. What matters isn’t where you are. What matters is your mind-set, attitude, and where you’re going. Be that bull, use the positive to fight for what you want and need.
- Be grateful for what you have. Whenever you find yourself looking at what other people have, remind yourself of what you do have. For me, that means appreciating my family, my wonderful friends, and the fact that I am healthy. So, shift focus from what you don’t have, to what you do have.
- Log how many times you say should or could? Comparison often leads to us “shoulding” all over ourselves. We say things such as, “We should have this by now” or “We should have come further.” Should keep us tracked in the negativity of the past use “we want” and notice how your inner dialogue changes.
- Make sure love is the foundation for your choices. To stay on track, ask yourself this powerful question, “What would love do right now?”
- Tell a better story through positive affirmations. If the story you’re telling yourself isn’t one of empowerment, strength, and optimism, then tell a better story. Instead of telling yourself we are not smart enough, tell yourself we are brave enough to try something new. Instead of blaming your partner for mistakes in the past, remind yourself that he/she did the best they could and that you both have learned from it. Here are the three affirmation, I want you to text each other for 14 days straight. We attract what we talk about, so we only speak positive words. We can have, do, or be anything we choose. We easily attract all the abundance, love and joy that we want.
Remember comparisons lead to low self-esteem which redirects your focus from what you can do. Focusing on what others did stunts your growth and opportunity. Life has so much to offer. Dig deep, dive in and take that leap of faith with your partner. You can fix your relationship!
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1. Week 1: Be Courage’s-Speak Your Mind!
2. Week 2: Be Calm- Learn how to manage your anger!
3. Week 3: Be Assertive-Learn how to win/win your arguments!
4. Week 4: Be Respected-Learn how to uphold respect!
5. Week 5: Be Loved-Learn how to make your partner feel loved!
6. Week 6: Be Heard-Learn how to listen to each other!
7. Week 7: Be Fun-Learn how to have fun again!
8. Week 8: Be Intimate-Learn how to physically connect!
9. Week 9: Be Trusted-Learn how to rebuild trust!
10. Week 10: Be Forgiven-Learn how to forgive your partner!
11. Week 11: Be Valued- Learn how to honor your partner!
12. Week 12: Be Goal Driven-Learn how to work towards to your relationship goals!
Life happens. We have all experienced adversity. Things come up that you never expected, things like sickness, job changes, financial problems, and more. Sometimes life circumstances can make relationships tough. Even when there are good changes like the birth of a child, the purchase of a new home, or the start of a new and better job, a strain can be added to your relationship. If you feel like you’re in that place today, I’ve got something that could help. It’s called “Save Love” and it’s a resource that offers tips and solutions for doing just that—saving your relationship. Email us with what you would like to see change in your relationship!
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