Do you ever have thoughts like these?
“Dad liked my brother BETTER than he liked me.”
“Alison is PRETTIER than I am.”
“Johnny is SMARTER than I am.”
“Tanya has a bigger home and flashier car.”
In reality, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, talents and deficiencies, assets and liabilities. You’re heading for depression if you only look at other people’s strengths, talents and assets and focus only on your weaknesses and deficiencies and liabilities.
When I was in college, I admired Jackie Kennedy. She was beautiful, wealthy, polished and admired. I was none of those things. As the years went by, I realized that she didn’t have such a wonderful life after all. Her parents were divorced. Her father was a womanizer who showed up drunk to her wedding. Her husband, another womanizer, was absent when she had a miscarriage and when Caroline was born. A quiet, thoughtful introvert, Jackie struggled to fit in with her extroverted, competitive in-laws. Her husband was murdered in front of her, etc, etc. I realized I’d NEVER (I really mean it!) trade places with her! As the years went on, I found that people who seem to have everything often have a great deal of pain and heartbreak included in their “everything.”
Here’s an exercise to try: the next time you find yourself wishing your life was like someone else’s, take a good look at every aspect of that person’s life. Would you want that person’s parents, mate, health, or personal problems?
Stephanie Kay Bendel is the author of EXIT THE LABYRINTH: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression – Its Onset and Aftermath, MAKING CRIME PAY: A Practical Guide to Mystery Writing, and A SCREAM AWAY, a romantic thriller published under the house name, Andrea Harris. She has also written numerous short stories and articles on writing.