1.) First you have to look at how well my tree is growing...
2.) Okay now you have to look at how well the rest of my trees are doing!
3.) Did you compare the two? You automatically thought my little baby tree wasn't doing very well didn't you? Ha! Okay well, maybe you didn't but I did. I was pitying this poor tree. What is wrong with this tree I keep asking myself. He's been in the same environment and everything else. Then when I realized that ya this tree is smaller and doesn't seem to be doing as well that it could really end up being a strong tree if I don't give up on it and keep watering it, it will just keep growing. When I look at this tree on it's own I think that this tree is doing pretty good put the second I look at the other tree's I think he isn't doing very well anymore. This is the same way with us. When we look at how well we think others are doing then we forget to look at how well we are doing. We only see our weaknesses. I know that as we look at our strengths and cultivate them and embrace ourselves the way we are that we start looking better and better. Not only do they look better our strengths grow and our weaknesses can become strengths.
4.) When we start comparing our children to other kids then we give them a disadvantage. Of course we want our kids to do well and to be healthy and grow and be the best they can be. How are they supposed to grow to their full potential if they are being compared to somebody else? When our kids see that they have to live up to some standard or to other kids then they miss seeing all the good that they have and can't develop those qualities.
I used this idea for a Family Home Evening Lesson and let everyone hold the small tree and asked them about the two tree's and all the kids said that my tree was better (the big one). Except Dad could see what was happening so he tried to say that the small one was better. Stinker, oh well, he didn't get it right either neither of the tree's were better, just different. Then I talked about how, when we compare ourselves to others we can't see the good in ourselves. So then I went around the room again with both tree's and asked them again about the tree's and everybody talked about the good qualities of the small tree. Even one of my daughters said that the fact that the tree was small was a good thing. She herself is small and later I asked them to look at the good things about themselves and she said, "I'm small." I asked her why that was a good quality and she said, "It makes me good at the limbo." Even things that are looked at as negative can really be good qualities, you just have to look at them that way. It reminds me of the movie "Wreck it Ralph" which by the way if you haven't seen it then you need to it is sooooo good. Ralph is the villain in his video game and he just wants to be good and be appreciated like the hero of his game. So he goes out and tries to change his role in the game and anyway he finds out that he is really just needed the way that he is and when he embraced it he found the good in himself and didn't have to change at all he just had to find the good in his situation. Here is a trailer.
My oldest daughter always struggles with this. She will come home from school and talk about how other students in the class can read better then her or are faster with the math facts then her and on and on. I could see her really listening to this lesson and she talked about how she is a good swimmer. I remember she needed help with her reading so we really worked at it. We stopped looking at what others could do and started focusing on what she could do and where she wanted to be. We had some practice reading sheets the teacher had given us and the words per minute that they were "supposed" to be able to read by then end of the year. Instead of saying you are supposed to be here we made this her personal goal. When I first tested her she had eight words per minute, the goal by the end of the year is 47 words per minute. So then we said okay if you do 10 more words per minute each month we will get there. So we practiced everyday and at first she really struggled but now she is almost there and she still has at least another month to go. Another thing that helped was her confidence. I had a very strong feeling that she needed to be on the US swim team this year, so we decided to do it and it turns out that she is a natural. She got 28th and ended last every heat the first meet and by the end of the season she placed third overall in the backstroke at B State and got the bronze. Not only that, because she has something that she is good at her confidence has grown and it affects other areas of her life. Her reading has gotten so much better and before she was very shy in class and wouldn't participate and now she asks questions and answers questions and believes in herself. We are excited about the positive changes and I know that it was because we started focusing on what she could do and not on what she couldn't do. We stopped worrying about what others were doing or not doing or what they thought. We also did not pity her or feel sorry for her or feel like there was no growth for her, we simply helped her with love and patience and we believed in her. Just like we need to do for ourselves when we struggle and feel like we can't live up to others.
5.) If you look at someone else and believe they are perfect then you are mistaken. We each have strengths and we each have weaknesses. The problem is that we can't see every one's mistakes or weaknesses, especially as much as we see our own. Some of us expect that we ourselves need to be perfect so it's hard to accept our failures. But when we accept them then we can learn from them and keep making ourselves better. When I remember my Savior, Jesus Christ, and all he has done for me then I can accept my faults easier and know that because The Savior Died for me he will make up the difference and that it is not possible for me too, then I can surrender and give my life to him and I will be made perfect Some Day. It's exciting! This Easter Season as we think about the Savior his sacrifice and his resurrection then we can remember that just as winter comes so do our faults but just as Spring comes and brings new growth we can remember that we grow also.
I read this talk by President Uchtdorf that talks about how we can avoid comparing ourselves to others. You can read, watch, or listen to it here. Great Talk!!
Stop asking yourself, "What's wrong with me?" and start asking yourself, "What's right with me!"