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Comparison Shopping

Anyone working a solid recovery program will tell you the substance is a mask for the real problem. When we first come into recovery, we’re hit in the face with the baggage and wreckage we’ve been drinking or using away. Once we’ve cleared away the baggage and wreckage, we’re left looking face to face at our defects of character. It’s a hard mirror in which to look, and even harder to clean. In fact, the mirror will NEVER be fully clean in this lifetime, but our mission is to keep scrubbing it.

One of the hardest things I saw in the mirror was the comparison game I played with everyone; and I mean everyone. People I know, people I don’t know, doesn’t matter. Everyone. I compared myself to every person I came in contact with and judged myself either better than or less than that person. Not sure what I mean? I’ll give you an example:

I’m grocery shopping at Wal-Mart (I’m already “less than” the people shopping at Target and Publix today). I pass a shopper and scan her cart; her items are all organic and natural compared to what’s in my cart. I immediately make the judgment that I am less than her. I head down another aisle to find a mom rapidly stuffing tv dinners in her cart while her children run around her like feral cats-I’m better than she is. I am at the register and the gentleman in front of me pays with an EBT card. I’m better than him. We head to the car. We are parked next to a brand new Tesla. I’m less than that person. And also, I wonder why they are shopping at Wal-Mart. Probably because they now own a Tesla.

Now these judgments aren’t made consciously. These aren’t things that occupy the forefront of my thoughts. These are automatic snap judgments. These are the activities of my subconscious. They are so much a part of me they are like breathing. I make these comparisons without even trying. And most of us do, really, we just haven’t been forced to LOOK at the comparisons we make. Unfortunately, once you see it, you really can’t UNSEE it, and now these little comparisons make their way to the forefront of my thoughts more often. It’s helpful for me in working through this. Annoying, but helpful.

That brings me back to recovery. Recovery is realization, willingness, acceptance, and change. If I want to change this behavior, I have to realize I have it, be willing to accept it, accept it, and work to change it. It starts with prayer, lots and lots of prayer. It builds stamina with conscious awareness of comparisons happening. It goes back to prayer-asking God to help me remember who he is, who I am, and that I am enough. It ends by destroying the ego and turning my focus back to God and others and off of myself. When I am focused on God and others, I do not have time or attention to give to how I’m measuring up. In fact, I don’t even possess the measuring stick. It’s only when my heart and mind are focused on God and others that I can see past the end of my own nose and be freed of the chains of comparison.

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