Stop Comparing Yourself!

Stop Comparing Yourself!  Ever since I was young I have always compared myself to others; mostly my friends.  At school, if a friend got an A grade on an assignment… Why wasn’t I as clever as her?  At University, if one of my friends had a car and not me… How could I get one?  And, later in life, a friend buys a massive four bedroom detached house… Why can’t we afford that?  I never seemed to compare myself to those who were the same or less fortunate, only those doing better.  It sounds like I put myself down a lot, but in reality it has helped me strive for more, given me goals and has taught me to have an “if they can do it, so can I” attitude to get what I want in life.

TTC and comparing myself to others (a bad combination)

In the last couple of years, since we have been TTC, my “comparing” attitude has got much worse.  I spend a lot of (wasted) time doing things like:

  • Counting how many months people have been married before they got pregnant.  Thinking things like “Wow – were they only married three months?” or “They must be having problems, they’re not pregnant yet and have been married for almost four years.”
  • Working out how old peoples kids are, counting back from peoples ages and comparing them to my age.  Thinking things like “She must’ve had her last child when she was 40″ or “she had three kids by the time she was 30.”
  • Comparing myself to all of my friends who have children (which is most of them).  Thinking “Why do they all have children and not us?”
  • Worrying about being “lapped” by friends we know who aren’t even married yet.  Thinking “They’re going to have kids before us, and we’ve been at it for two years already.”
  • Comparing myself to every mother in a public place.  Trying to work out her age, job and relationship situation (just from the way she looks) to see if we are better or worse off than them.  Coming to the conclusion that we must be worse off as we don’t have kids and they do!
  • Being angry about people who become “accidentally pregnant” or tell me “they weren’t even trying.”  This still annoys me, even though I am never 100% sure about how true this is.  I like to think that some people say this to save face.
  • Comparing myself to others with fertility problems Thinking things like “If she’s got endometriosis then maybe I have too.”
  • Being angry about seeing a pregnant woman smoking, drinking etc.  Thinking How does she deserve a baby and I don’t?”

Why is it different?

I think my “comparing” attitude has got worse, because getting pregnant and having children is not something I can “strive to achieve” by normal means.  In the past I could work harder at school (to get the A grade) and save up more money (for that new car and bigger house).  TTC is a hard slog with no correlation between how hard you try and getting what you want.  For example, we’ve worked our socks off for two years TTC, only to be rewarded with two miscarriages and no children (yet!).

I have discovered recently, that a lot (ok, most) of my worries and (sometimes) anger stem from comparing myself to other people.  And it’s mostly people who have children already.  Hubby is always telling me to stop comparing myself and asking me why I care about what other people are doing.  And the answer to that is, I honestly don’t know!  If we could live in a bubble where it was just us two, I think I’d be ok, but I can’t shut myself away for the duration can I?  (Although I have to admit, sometimes I’d like to).

Do I have a solution to this?

In short, no!  I have tried very hard to switch off my brain and stop thinking about other people and their situations.  I have tried to look at people who have had tougher journeys than me and seek out the positives (because, on a positive note, all my friends who have had fertility problems now all have children).  But it still sneaks in – I spot a couple in the park with their kids … “How old are they?  How old would they have been when they had their kids?  Are they happy?  Is their relationship good?  Did they have problems TTC?”

Training my brain (or trying to anyway)

I’m now attempting to train my brain to stop worrying and to stop getting bitter about what other people are doing.  Of course, knowing what others are doing can be especially helpful in some cases and I love to hear how all my twitter and blogger friends are getting on.  But I really do need to stay focused on OUR situation and stop thinking of it as some kind of race or competition.  Why does it bother me how and when other people get their babies compared to us?  Surely, the main thing is how we get ours?  Hubby said to me the other day:

“Think about our journey and our goal of having a family.  Don’t waste time worrying about everyone else getting there first, getting there more easily or whatever it may be.  It’s a waste of worry, anger and time!”

Men eh?  How I wish I could think in such a black and white way sometimes.

I think he’s right though, it is a waste.  The worrying and the anger needs to go!  If I can allow myself to think about it sometimes, but stop myself comparing, worrying and getting angry/bitter about it, it will sure as heck make our journey a bit easier.

Do you compare yourself with others?  How do you feel when everyone around you has children?  Does it feel like everyone else is “winning” the race and you’re being left behind?

photo by: TheBusyBrain

Comments

  1. Do I ever get this! Even though my ttc days are behind me, with every pregnancy announcement that I hear or read, I find myself asking the question, ‘why her, and not me?’ It’s a tough habit to break. I think the key to stopping this is finding absolute peace with our own situations. I’m slowly working towards that, but it’s a very hard road, and I honestly think it will take me years (and perhaps full-blown menopause) to get there. I’m very lucky to have one child… I’m sure that will help on my journey towards acceptance. I really feel for you- it can’t be easy. Hugs…

    • Baby Hopeful says:

      Thank you for making me feel like I’m not going mad. I was starting to think I was the only one who did this. Phew!

  2. I was nodding along to your entire list! I compare all. the. time. It’s impossible not to. I know my journey is my journey, it’s unique and there’s not much I can do to change it. One thing I do to lessen the feelings of regret (for not starting to try earlier in life), bitterness, and jealousy is to look at the person’s overall level of happiness. For instance, one of my close friends has two kids. She got pregnant easily and claims the second one was unexpected. However, she’s on the verge of divorce, and hasn’t been in love with her husband for years. She had kids with him because she didn’t want to wait until it was too late. So, now, she’s dealing with separation and divorce with young kids. Then there’s my teen mom cousin who is pregnant with her 5th, while her oldest is about to graduate high school. She’s a hot mess in pretty much every other aspect of her life, so while I’m jealous of her fertility, I definitely would not want all that other crap. Of course, the couples and families that don’t seem to have anything negative going on are harder to deal with. In those cases, yes, I just want them to stop so I can catch up!

    • Baby Hopeful says:

      Glad you agree. It just shows though that just because people have children, doesn’t mean their lives are perfect, even though we think it might be (because we think ours would be if we had children). xx

  3. It’s bittersweet to know that I am not alone in this respect. The funny thing is, I wasn’t even aware that I do this until I read this post. I’m particularly guilty of:

    • Counting how many months people have been together before they got pregnant.
    • Working out how old people were when they first had kids, or figuring out how old their kids were by the time they were my age (35)
    • Worrying about friends getting pregnant before me
    • Being angry about people who become “accidentally pregnant” or tell me “they weren’t even trying.” The irresponsibility and unfairness makes me weep!!
    • Being angry about seeing a pregnant woman smoking, drinking etc. Last weekend, it was a woman getting a pedicure that made me want to scream (chemicals in nail polish, etc.)

    I am so glad you wrote this eye-opening post. Many hugs to you and anyone else who read this post and nodded along.

  4. Amen sista. This is so damn hard to deal with. The ‘why nots’ are even harder than the ‘what ifs’! For me, this is an immediate reaction to news of another pregnancy from people who I didn’t know were TTC. When I see a fellow tweeter say they’ve been successful, although I am a little sad for myself, I find it very easy to be happy for them. But otherwise, ooh, I can be a bitch. It’s something I feel bad about, but I have to let it be. I’m generally over it in a few days, and the idea that everyone has their own cross to bear helps me see that there might be many of them who, after a bit of contemplation, I definitely wouldn’t want to switch lives with.

    I suffer with the counting syndrome too in terms of comparing myself to women who are already pg. For example – ‘if we’re successful next month then I’ll only be three months behind her’. Why? No idea. I think it’s wholly important for us all to try and focus on our on journey even though, like you, I sometimes wish I could switch myself off from the rest of the world, stick my fingers in my ears and go ‘LA LA LAAAAAA, NOT LISTENIIIIIING’ very loudly until we have our own announcement to make. But then I guess when we do, hopefully, have our own child there will be other couples only just starting their journey; it’s like some sort of circle of infertility! So no, I guess not everybody IS popping out babies left right and centre. I just wish I didn’t feel like they were…. Good luck hun xxxxxx

    • Baby Hopeful says:

      Thanks for your comment. And great theory about the circle – You’re right, when we get there with our babies there will be others looking on and feeling as we do now. xx

  5. Colette says:

    I just found your blog through Dontcountyoureggs. Thank you for sharing your experiences so eloquently. Its often hard to find the right words to explain feelings around fertility issues and reading your blog is very comforting because you capture the experience so well. I can totally relate to this article!

    My sister is 2 weeks away from having her 2nd child. When she told me about her pregnancy, I had been through one miscarriage and have been through another since. I was totally happy for her until she told me that she accidentally got pregnant. Then I told her that she could have skipped that part of the story. After ttc for a long time, I was so annoyed! It was a terrible, terrible reaction and the next day I wished I could take it back. On the other side, it was honest and maybe its better for our relationship in the long run.

    So you are not the only one! Thank you for creating this point for us to connect!

    • Baby Hopeful says:

      Sometimes it’s so easy to just snap and say what’s in your head, I’m definitely guilty. But you’re right maybe it is better in the long run to be honest. I suppose we can’t expect people to be sensitive to our feelings if they don’t fully know what we’re going through. x

  6. I know I am very late to read this.. but throughout this post I felt as if I am reading about myself. Very nicely written

    • Baby Hopeful says:

      Thank you. It’s so hard not to compare yourself isn’t it? I haven’t quite mastered how to stop doing it yet. xx

  7. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who did these things! But wow, until you put the list into words, I didn’t realize just how frequently and in-depth I was engaging in these thoughts. I shouldn’t say “engaging,” because they just happen without me even realizing it most of the time. Many times it manifests itself in anger, which makes me want to be alone and isolated from everyone. I’m trying to come to peace with everything and focus on my own situation, but I feel like I have to sacrifice friendships and other relationships in order to truly achieve that peace. Wish there was a better way.

    • Baby Hopeful says:

      I feel exactly the same. I used to beat myself up about sacrificing friendships & cutting people out, but now I realise that I have to protect & look after number one first…me! Yes it’s selfish, but I am so much happier when I concentrate on me, so it’s worth it. I hope you find peace with yourself & your choices too. xx

  8. Love the post. It is so true, I could see myself in all the situations you described. Very good picture, the apple will always be greener than the orange. Do they compare themselves?

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