Be Happy for Me

Random / Monday, June 22nd, 2015

I want to share about our vacation, I want to share about how great it was and show-off all the awesome photos my awesome husband took of the beautiful Colorado mountains.

But I’m afraid to. Even when I posted a status update about our trip, I recoiled and felt almost ashamed. I was now one of those people who posted about something cool and exciting that no one else got to do.

I’m afraid of comparison. I’m afraid that by sharing something exciting that our family got to experience and by posting beautiful pictures of where we got to go, it will cause someone on the other side of the screen to compare and become envious.

Not because I think my life is perfect but because I’ve done the same thing to others’.

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. There are things I want to share or say, happy moments, sad moments, frustrations and victories. But more often than not, I hesistate. Because I worry about how others will react, even if only internally.

Coincidentally, the book I read while on our vacation is –

I’m Happy for You (Sort Of…Not Really): Finding Contentment in a Culture of Comparison by Kay Wills Wyma

I love the title – a perfect articulation of the feelings most all of us experience when we hear or see what others are doing.

Kay does an excellent job presenting all the examples of how we all suffer from “OCD – Obbessive Comparison Disorder”. We’re constantly comparing our lives to others; blogs and Facebook and all the other Social Media tools out there are a perfect breeding ground for envious thoughts and feelings.

I’m keenly aware of this because I too suffer from this “OCD” (in both meanings), though I try my best to overcome it, it’s always there.

Since I’m so familiar with my own struggles with it, and since I see how easy it is for others to fall into this trap when reading blogs or checking out Facebook status updates, and since I hate the thought of leading others into this same sinful trap, I’ve developed a new syndrome – Constantly Afraid of Making Others Envious (CAOMOE) Bet you never heard of that one. It’s new.

It shouldn’t be this way. We should be able to share our lives with our friends and family without worrying about the comparison and envy wars. We should be able to share in our friends’ and family’s excitements and triumphs without turning it into something that makes us feel like failures.

We’ve all heard the saying,

Comparison is the thief of Joy

Usually it’s referred to taking our joy away when we compare ourselves to others.

But how often are we the ones stealing joy from others when we compare ourselves out loud to them?

I see it all the time. Someone shares something exciting or cool that they did and, without fail, there’s at least one comment that tries to make the poster feel bad for what they achieved. It’s usually played up as a joke or snarky comment but deep down, it usually makes the poster feel bad for sharing.

Made Up Example: Someone posts a picture of a super awesome craft project they accomplished. At least one person will say something like,

Your crafts are so perfect! If I would have tried it, it would have fallen apart before I even got the glue out!

When we do this (and I include myself in the “we”), it’s like bragging, but reversed, yet still centered on us not others.

Why do we make people feel bad about what they are good at or what they get to do, or even about the blessings they have in their lives?

Instead, why can’t we just Be Happy for them , as Kay suggests in her book, and why also, can’t we just be happy with ourselves?

It’s a huge struggle. As a blogger, I want to share helpful thoughts or ideas. I want to share other people’s helpful thoughts and ideas through the books, movies, or blog posts, etc. I truly enjoy writing and making cool-looking blogs, I find it exciting to use Social Media to share it all and to connect with others.

But at the same time, I hide from it all. I hide from the self-promotional side of it – afraid others will formulate ideas or opinions about me based only on what they see of me online.

I hide my talents and gifts because I’m afraid others will compare themselves to what they see me doing and think less of themselves.

I also do this with our house, with our possessions, with what we have and are able to do. I hide our blessings or try and downplay them for fear it will provoke envy. What a joy sucker.

In I’m Happy for You (Sort Of…Not Really), Kay also writes about the twisted satisfaction people get when they see someone – who they think of as “perfect” – fail or have something less-than-perfect happen to them.

You know you’ve done it. We all have.

That’s why moms flock to blog posts or pictures of “Mom Fail” moments. It’s not that we want other moms to fail. It’s just that we like to know we’re not alone. But it’s still kind of twisted when we relish in other’s failures.

It’s a little ridiculous really.

While Kay’s book mostly focused on how we need to stop comparing our lives with others so we can find contentment, I need to also stop worrying about others’ own “Obessesive Comparison Disorders”.

I do have certain responsibilities to remain authentic and do my best not to paint an unrealistic picture of who I am or what my family and life are like. But at the same time, I shouldn’t have to flaunt my failings or, worse, my children or spouse’s failings just so others can feel better about their own struggles.

I worry and obsess over these things way too much. My wise husband tells me to just stop. I can’t control other people’s reactions to how they interpret the parts of myself and my life that I do share. And, maybe this sounds harsh, but if someone comes to my blog or looks through my Facebook pictures or even just sees me in my house or wherever and is filled with envy, that’s not really my fault or problem. It’s theirs, right?

I guess the best I can do is pray. Pray that God will help me be authentic but also grateful for what we have and also pray the He will also heal others’ similar hearts.

Ok, now I can start sharing some pictures next. 🙂

4 Replies to “Be Happy for Me”

  1. Hmm…I have thoughts on this post. I’ll see if my brain can get them out as we near midnight.
    1. Fr. Vincent spoke at our parish tonight. Talk about comparisons! If you don’t feel a little guilty about how disproportionately blest our country is, something is wrong with you.
    2. Guilt can be a good thing. Sometimes when I look at other’s lives and compare, it is about something that I need to work on. I am so lazy/complacent/oblivious, those little wake-up calls are welcome.
    3. I think this is something that women (generally speaking) struggle with to a whole deeper level than men struggle with it.
    4. I am curious to hear your thoughts after seeing Inside Out, because I think your predominant emotion probably plays a role in how you respond to comparison, and the sensitivity to how you portray your life and worry about how it will make others feel. As a “Joy” kind of guy, I genuinely view my life as 90 percent good, and I want to capture that and be able to remember it. So I don’t feel like I’m not being genuine when I post a happy post, because 90 percent of my life is ridiculously blest, and I will occasionally write a post touching on the other 10 percent. But for a lot of people that balance isn’t 90/10 and that is OK too.
    5. I think a lot of your perspective on what you post comes from who your audience is. I post stuff on the blog primarily for our family, as a sort of electronic scrapbook of where the kids have been. I want to be real, but I also don’t want to preserve bad memories. I want to preserve real memories, through God’s timeless lens, that brings good from all things and makes all things new. After us, I am most often posting for the young TEC kids thinking about their vocations. And I think it is good for them to see the joy and beauty of family life. Now, I don’t know how often that crowd checks my blog, but I’ve heard that some occasionally do, and they do find it joyful and beautiful. And I sprinkle in a few stories from the trenches, so they know it’s not all sunshine and unicorns. But I’d rather err on the side of sunshine and unicorns, than have them think parent life is all headaches and diaper blowouts.

    Annnnd…end pre-midnight brain activity! I love your blog! I love seeing your beautiful Colorado photos. I haven’t got to watch any movies in the last 2 weeks, so please, make me stinkin’ envious with a movie update post! 🙂

  2. Thanks, Joel for all the comments! What a lovely treat to wake up to.

    Yes, comparison (and healthy guilt) can be good when they lead us to examine what we might need to improve on and she does go into that in the book a little.

    Like you say in number 5, I think that has a lot to do with my perspective but I also think my experience as a mom-blog reader does too. I’ve seen a lot of blog posts over the years that complain when other bloggers only post perfect pictures and then almost pride themselves on how much better they are about being “real” in their own blogging. Which I’m not saying is a bad thing, only that it seems to be a common theme that other people are easily bothered by all those “perfect” blogs – myself included.

    There are a few blogs of people I do not know personally that I had to stop reading because of the near occasion to succumb to the sin of envy. But, I think what I was trying to say here is that is my problem if I feel envious not the blogger’s fault and they shouldn’t have to taint their own writing or make their pictures blurry just because of my own envious heart.

    We watched Inside Out yesterday and LOVED it! But I’ll save more thoughts for another post. 🙂
    Erika Marie recently blogged…Beauty in Erosion My Profile

  3. Finally finished this. I think I started it and forgot to come back. You know I have lots of thoughts on this subject. Ultimately, I think fb and blogs are just flawed, like people. I think there is responsibility on both ends, but i don’t think life will ever be well represented in either place. I think the user has to be aware of their feelings on both ends and accept vulnerability, or just step away. Right or wrong, there is no way to avoid judgement. There is no perfect balance. There just isn’t. Everyone struggles with something, pride, envy, sloth, vanity, etc. when someone’s life seems too good to be true, I have to remind myself that never is the history of the world has anyone had a perfect life without struggle. Being a complete opposite of Joel, who certainly does not see the world with 90 percent joy, I know that is my issue to work on and not other peoples’. But I also feel strongly about the flip side, of presenting the struggles to, but how do we do that while respecting the dignity and privacy of our families?? I don’t know.

    I feel like this isn’t even coherent. I need a nap.

  4. Thanks Mary for your comment! Another great treat! (Did you and Joel plan this? 😉
    I never feel coherent, especially in my blogging so I’m glad you understand. 😉

    I love your points and I think that accepting that – that there is no perfect way to say or do anything because we and the people around us are flawed – is how I’ll get over feeling self-conscious about my own flaws.

    This past week’s readings about “boasting about our weaknesses” made me think more on this topic. I wonder what St. Paul would think about the blogging and Facebook lands? Would he suggest we openly share our shortcomings and weaknesses? I wonder what he meant exactly by “boasting”?
    Erika Marie recently blogged…What I’ve been Reading {A Big Book Updated} My Profile

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