Comparison Murders Joy.

I have very little to complain about. I'm healthy and have a good family and friends. My mother has never been easy but we have learned to manage ourselves as a family around that most of the time. Growing up, she was never happy, everyone always had things better than her and she wanted what they had. This was very hard on my dad who did everything he could to satisfy a demanding woman. He eventually gave up by having a heart attack 12 years ago. I am so aware of all of this and yet, I know I carry the same character trait myself. I really struggle with wanting what other people have and fight this every day in a thousand ways from my career choices to how my friends dress. It makes my relationship with my mother even harder because I end up blaming her and hating myself. How can I manage these urges?



Can you honestly say that your generosity to the world makes you continuously happy for what everyone else has. Are you thrilled for your friends who have more money than you. Do you get excited about telling your updated story at the school reunion and smile warmly when you see young couples mooning publicly in acts of love.

We'll just leave that there.

As a natural follow on from last week's post we address a problem that came in to Another Mother World about the rather biblical sounding covetousness. It sounds so archaic, but we push ourselves so hard that it fosters a sense that we should be getting more for our trouble.

Complacency is a horror story that shares a sleeping bag with smugness and stagnation. That's a tent you don't want to sleep in. However, an acknowledgement of the good stuff that we have, a moment to reflect on our privilege, can sometimes rebalance the books on how we think about ourselves and our relationship with others. This week Grace O'Rourke shares her learnings from her challenge of The Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week . Grace's tiny frame carried her to be the only female civilian ever to pass the test. read her story now on Another Mother World.

We all have challenges, welcome in, pull up a seat and have a soothing cup of tea. There are some in this life that you can't control, some that you can manage and influence, and some that you simply can't control. Your issue, luckily for you, is completely within your gift to control. You have a predisposition, not a life sentence.

Managing these urges will require a little bit of conscious rewiring on your part. In biblical terms, you would be called covetous. Not a pretty title. This rewiring will require dedication and consistency on your part.

The wonderful Maureen Gaffney says that it takes three positive emotional feelings to smother one negative one. So, you've a steep climb ahead, truth be told, most of us do. Why don't you think about building a stockpile of three gratitudes to act as laser beams to explode your negative thoughts. Your feelings are primal and live in the flight or flight part of your brain. Habits, however, both good and bad, negative and positive, live in the area of your brain called the basal ganglia. The more often you perform an action or behave a certain way, the more it gets physically wired into your brain. But it's not a given and you can rewire it using, subconsciously, the amazing adaptive quality of your brain known as neuroplasticity.

Every time you act in the same way, a specific neuronal pattern is stimulated and becomes strengthened in your brain. We've extolled the wonders of James Clear's amazing book Atomic Habits, well worth a read if you're up for some neural rewiring.

Grace O'Rourke was the first and only woman to pass the Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week Challenge, broadcast on RTE2.

Grace has spent her life within the sport and fitness industry, from equestrian and competitive athletics to a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and a diploma in Sports Psychology, to a fulfilling career in personal training and teaching Pilates. Grace founded and designed an Irish made activewear line and innovated equestrian products. She is a relentless optimist who believes there is no failure, just lessons and their application to continue the journey equipped with more wisdom and experience.


Hi MW, thank you for your message.

Firstly you are not alone! Who doesn’t want what others have if it’s a little newer, shinier or bigger! That’s just normal. You are also already half way there in as you are fully aware that you do this. You are admitting to this trait, your recognising that you shouldn’t be doing so well done. Now how to change your mind-set!

I took part in RTE’s Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week (Season 1) and after taking part in it really highlighted some valuable life lessons for me that I want to share with you.


One of the things I learned is that life isn't always fair and most of the time there are no concessions. One of the challenges was a 21k hike up Tonelagee mountain in Wicklow in the freezing cold. We had 60 pounds of kit on our backs. Men and women had the exactly the same weight. In that moment along with many others in my life I said “why do I seem to get it harder and others seem to have it easier”? I had to stop myself from thinking this, as what was in front of me was a very tough climb with very heavy weight in the freezing cold and if I was going to carry both the physical weight and the emotional weight of resentment I would not finish. I not only finished this, but I went on to be the only female, military or civilian to complete this test. So what I'm trying to say is, what I had was more than enough. I didn’t need to be stronger,fitter or have better kit, I had it all. So we need to let go of the seeming injustices and the weight of the emotional baggage because life is hard enough without adding to that.


One of my great coaches – Mr Jim Kid, once said “Run your own race”. I trained for the 400 meter hurdles with him. A tough race and not my main athletics event. This race required a whole different skill set to what I was used to so it needed my full focus and attention. One time, as I was warming up for a race I noticed myself comparing myself to the other girls.

I would be noting the style of warm up they were doing, the kind of shape they were in, looking at the type of gear they were wearing. My thoughts came back negative. “Her warm up is far better than mine, she looks fitter or she has better gear”. I got to the start line feeling tense, the gun went off, I didn’t run how I had planned and I came last.

I know why I came last. I came last because I tried to be like the other girls in the race but that’s not my style. Since then, I have a national medal for the 400m hurdles because I ran my own race! Just keep doing you because you because that what makes you you.


If you are going to make comparisons, then they can only be relative to you. The only comparing you should be doing is with yourself! You already have a great friends and family relationships so focus your energy on thinking how can you make them better not how can I make them like someone else's…because you cant- you're not them! If you see a friend that has a nicer bag, the newest phone who knows if these are things that are compensating to making her happy because perhaps her relationship is not. Often the picture or story that we see is not the one that is really going on behind closed doors. If I feel myself wanting to compare I pull myself back to being in the moment and being totally present to that moment and appreciating what I have here and now.


Most of us are so lucky to have what we have. It is important to remind ourselves that there ares always people that is far less fortunate than us and would give anything to have a fraction of what we have. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day. Oh, and every day means - EVERY DAY.

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