I had the dog out in the yard the other day. For some reason she doesn't like to pee in the yard, so we've been spending a lot of time out there, encouraging her to do so. (Maybe it's Kessie's way of making sure she gets a good walk.) But I digress. As I surveyed my little kingdom, I noticed lots of bare patches scattered through the grass. Looking at my neighbor's yard, it appeared to be more even and more consistently green. No, the grass really is NOT greener on the other side. What makes it appear that way are distance and the angle from which I see it. And so it is for all of us when we think other people's lives are more calm, more abundant, more of everything we think is lacking in our own lives. Many years ago, my husband attended a meeting at someone's home. It was a very large home in an affluent neighborhood and I had made some assumptions about this couple. Assumptions... you know how that goes. Here's what I learned. Aside from a piano, there was no furniture in the living room. They couldn't afford to furnish that, and another room. The husband worked crazy hours in NYC, so his wife and children saw very little of him. The responsibilities of family were mostly hers, and the kids barely knew their father. We never know what is going in other people's lives. There is an old Jewish saying (and I know variations of it exist in other cultures): If we all put our troubles into a pot and saw everyone else's, we'd still take our own back. Everyone has a story, and nothing is ever what it seems to be. None of this is to say that you should minimize your own challenges. They are yours, they are real, they are valid. You need to work through them and find solutions, or find ways to cope with what cannot be changed. What I hope you will take from this is that the more mental and emotional energy you spend comparing yourself to others, the less energy and motivation you will have for taking care of your own business. As Byron Katie (creator of "The Work") says, "If you're minding someone else's business, who's minding YOUR business?" Stop making assumptions about others, and stop comparing. Stay focused on you, because the only one who can change your life is you. And everything changes when you do.
Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.
Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com.