“If only” is a sentence starter that demonstrates an ultimate expression of excuse and regret. I have begun to hear quite a few people make “if only” statements regarding certain aspects of their lives. The reasoning behind “if only” statements is summed up with one word: Comparison.
We live in a society where we have the means to compare ourselves to others every minute of the day. A friend posts about their amazing significant other on Facebook and we examine our relationship. A teacher tweets about their new promotion to the district office and we wonder why we don’t get promoted. And a mom post on Instagram her picture perfect personally-made Olaf-shaped snacks for their one-year-old child’s Frozen themed birthday party and we devalue our ability as a mother. We can look at these joyous events/things on social media and say to ourselves and others “if only” and dilute our thinking. Instead of looking at others’ positive experiences/events at face value, many of us determine our value as people based solely on the highlights of others. These things are called highlights for a reason….they give bright, shiny attention to something I want you to see, which averts your attention from something I maybe don’t want you to see.
Comparison ruins and handcuffs so many people, unfortunately, it can be just as paralyzing as fear. Comparison creates a defeatist attitude within us and is the pathway to mediocrity. What we think on and look at regularly, what our focus becomes, naturally affects our hearts. Our hearts will be restless and actions meaningless when I constantly live in an “if only” mindset. If I’m consistently focused on comparing my marriage, job, or students against others, how will I ever become content? If I regularly make excuses or place limitations on myself because I see the great things others do, how will I progress and grow? How easy is it to blend in the bell curve middle rather than be an outlier on the graph of life?
Individuals who are focused on comparison are like large buckets selfishly collecting experiences and accolades, brimming with blame, and usually filled with stagnant water. Those who are content, but still strive for improvement are like pipes. They do not interfere with others’ movement, remain very grounded, and act as a passageway of positive energy, experiences, and ideas. “If only” mindsets and comparing, will cause us to become buckets swimming in complacency and excuses rather than becoming content and purposeful pipelines to those around us.
Instead of using your energy and time on comparison filled excuses and becoming stagnant, grow where you are planted. Make progress daily. Continue to form genuine connections with others, especially those people who are better than you. Sincerely be happy for others’ successes. Be patient, diligently working towards your own success. Be a pipe rather than a bucket. Understand comparison and excuses do nothing but steal your joy and dampen everyone else’s parade.
If only we stopped the comparison filled excuses, how much joy and contentment would we all experience in this thing called life? Growth and excuses both take energy, time, and effort, which will you chose?