Comparisons, judgments, assumptions… we make more of them than we think.

In my university years, I shared an apartment with several other students. When Tanja moved in, I thought everything about her was perfect. She was beautiful, intelligent, fit and well dressed… everything I wanted to be. I felt like the ugly duckling in comparison.

At the time, I was going through a very rough patch in my life and was in counselling to work through my history. I was sure that everyone else – especially Tanja – had great friends and a perfect family, so I kept my distance and spent a lot of time in my room.

Finally, one night in the kitchen, my dinner schedule overlapped with Tanja’s. I didn’t want to stay in the kitchen… but I didn’t want to be rude. So I stayed and we talked.

She told me a bit about herself, about her family and about some of the struggles she was going through – like her battle with anorexia, which had put her in the hospital for several years, and her decision to never return to her family home.

As I listened to her, I felt compassion for what she had been through. I was shocked to realize how far off my assumptions had been. I learned that day – it doesn’t serve to compare. It only creates distance between people.

We are all unique, but our fears and hardships are actually quite common. When we remember that, we find peace and comfort with each other.

Try this: think of someone in your life who you feel uneasy around. Picture them in your mind and say to yourself, “This person has felt struggle and distress, just like I have. This person is doing her/his best, just as I am.”

Do you feel a change toward him or her? From this place of compassion, send some good thoughts to this person. Then send some good thoughts to yourself and imagine wrapping yourself in a blanket of compassion.