Our Diabetes/365 Community IS our cuppa!

The Dangerous Sport of Comparison

24/12/2012 09:18

 Unless the words, “shall I compare you to” come before a Shakespearean Sonnet, it is my steadfast belief that the “sport” of comparison of people is one that leads to division & many other negative outcomes.

Let’s take a moment to think back to when we were children with a new toy.  In a child-like manner, it would not be unusual for one child to say to another in a boastful way that he or she has this newest & greatest “thingmadoodle.”  The retort would often be from the other child ,”well that is nothing, you should see my new thingmadoodle as it is a million times better.”  That’s understandable for kids as they are still learning the lessons in life surrounding humility, taking an interest in others, being happy for others & realizing that life can be looked at through the lens of abundance vs scarcity.  By that, I mean, just because one person appears to have something better, it does not need to turn into a sport of comparison & mitigation of the other person’s accomplishment or item at hand.  The choice can be to be happy genuinely for another person & not choose to feel “less than” because the other person is celebrating something positive in his or her life.

It is one thing to hear one child say to another that they just got a new remote controlled helicopter.  Then another child may reply “that’s nothing” & then add on an embellishment of what they have that is so much better.  Finally, another child may chime in with a further, “Yeah, well, I own a real helicopter & fly it myself to school really early each morning!”  It is quite another to enter into comparisons as an adult with the knowledge of how detrimental this can be I have found.  An example that comes easily to my mind is in the study of grief counseling whereby counselors are taught among many other things that there is great wisdom in never comparing losses.  How do you feel to have your emotions raw sharing with someone the loss of a dear one to hear something like either, “how old were they” or “it could have been worse…let me tell you about a way worse loss”.  Every loss is felt at 100%!  There is no value in comparing losses.  It leads most times to division & certainly to feelings of isolation, feeling unheard & uncared for.  Over time, I have continued to encourage folks to not compare losses but rather to be caring & offer a genuine & kind, “I am sorry for your loss.”  It makes all the difference in the world. 

Okay, Saundie, we get it, you discourage comparison & most especially when it comes to losses…now what does this have to do with diabetes?  There has been something troubling me for many years now.  It is the prevalence of comparisons when it comes to illnesses.  Illness is a loss.  Illness that is a “365” health challenge whether it is diabetes or another health challenge means that a person must find a “new normal” day to day surrounding his or her health.  Do we want to choose to have division in illness when from my way of thinking we need the union of community support & encouragement very much?  If you are like me in thinking that union or community is the answer then our words & actions need to be aligned with that philosophy. 

Over the past 5 years, I have heard & read viewpoints that I have found disheartening at times. Some people have said to me over the years that “it is too bad that you have type 1 diabetes since if you  had type 2 there would be something that could be done to improve your health.”  In this case, I have had a great opportunity to do 2 things:  first, educate folks on the fact that there are treatments (not a cure…treatments) available for folks with type 1 so please don’t feel sorry for me & second that I don’t personally see the value in comparing type 1 & type 2 diabetes.  Yes, they are different & so are people.  There are days when I feel on top of the world & have a stellar blood sugar control day.  There are days when this is not the case.  There are good & bad days with type 1 & there are good & bad days with type 2.  I am not comparing the diabetes types as I see no point to that.  I feel badly for anyone with diabetes or any other 365 health challenge that is having a challenging day & I feel happy for folks that are having a “personal best” day.  That is a choice.  You know what, I have also had folks say to me over the years that “it is too bad that you got type 1 as an adult…”  I won’t finish the whole sentence.  Again, I take the opportunity to correct this misconception.  The reality is that there is no good time for anyone to get diabetes or any other health challenge.  Enough with the comparisons…the divisions in community. 

Let’s put this in perspective surrounding parenting or family or friends.  I would not hope nor expect any of our sons to be the same or compare them.  Instead, as a mom, I choose to love each son at 100% and to try my best to understand what lights up each of our boys…to meet them at each heart’s needs.  I think we can say the same about our family & friends.  Do you love each person in your life at 100%?  Do you feel loved at 100%?  I hope you do not feel the pain of being compared or labeled or misunderstood.  If you or I sometimes feel this way, than there is still work to do with the “education on fire!”  Let’s start with ourselves & then those closest to us with the motto of “new rule, no comparing of people since it is divisive.”  We have a decision to make & act upon to build community by discarding comparisons of health challenges & instead unite to build strength instead…understanding, compassion, sharing of legitimate information sources & encouragement.  How about caring & acceptance as a guide post?    We can honour one another in our community by entering into a “non-comparison of health struggle” campaign.  Yes, type 1 & type 2 are different & yes, each person with diabetes is different too.  Do we want to compare or do we want to support one another?  Yes, each & every 365 health challenge is different & again, so is each person.  There is no need to compare health struggles I feel with all my heart.  What makes you feel stronger…encouragement, kindness, understanding & acceptance or being told that someone else has it better or worse than you?  The answer is obvious.

One of the truths that I share often with our sons is this…love grows exponentially &  that means that the more mommy loves, the more love that is further created.  It is like this when it comes to caring & support, don’t you think?  The more we encourage, do our best to understand what others are going through, give kindness & acceptance, the more these grow too.

Today, let’s all give ourselves a gift.  Let’s plant a garden in our hearts that grows the uniting & community-building qualities…and there shall bloom kindness & care, encouragement & acceptance of others.  Let’s make a decision to discard the comparisons which in the garden of life are weeds that take away from the beauty.  Here’s to you & the ongoing  building of our beautiful community garden!

Smiles, Saundie :)