In the most recent General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf caught my undivided attention with his talk, "Forget Me Not." He used the tiny blue forget-me-not flower as a metaphor, its five petals representing five principles he felt the women of the world needed to be reminded of. His first reminder was to be patient with ourselves. He says, "I want to tell you something I hope you will take in the right way: God is fully aware that you are not perfect. Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not. And yet we spend so much time time and energy comparing ourselves to others- usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths." The talk is too wonderful to paraphrase, so please check it out.
I have never struggled with recognizing my own weaknesses- I guess you could say finding my weaknesses is a strength of mine, but the depression and anxiety that stems from that awareness has always been a very intense struggle. Maybe it's because I'm the youngest of six- I have a lot to live up to. Or maybe it's because I am a member of a religion that puts such an emphasis on spiritual development and personal and family achievement. But honestly, I think this constant self-imposed punishment stems from the fact that I'm a woman- and that's just what we do. I understand that it is one of the adversary's most powerful tools, comparison. And Elder Uchtdorf perfectly explained why this is. Imagine the time and energy wasted when that time is spent trying to live up to some ideal we've created- based on the successes of someone else. All the while, our own strengths are being completely neglected, or at least underestimated. Another reason I have found comparison to be so awful is because it slowly eats away at our ability to see the beauty in others. The flip-side of only noticing others' strengths, is the destructive habit of meticulously searching out their flaws in an effort to make ourselves feel better. Again- huge time waster. But also, I have found that during those times when I'm caught up in silently picking someone apart (or worse- verbally), I couldn't be in a space farther from my own personal progress, or the spirit of God. I think the worst side effect of paying too much attention to our weakness in contrast to others' strengths is that gratitude has taken a backseat, or has been completely kicked out of the picture. I am finding that if I take the time to regularly count my blessings, there isn't as much room for negativity. And I'm thankful to my friends for reminding me of that. When it comes down to it, I just need to do something I should have learned to do in kindergarten...mind my own business.