There's Only One You
Have you seen a current commercial for almond milk where a very average middle age man is swimming his own personal best in a pool, doing the butterfly stroke when Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps appears in the water in the next lane? The man tells Phelps ‘stop butterflying!’, that this is his quest and he won’t allow comparison, and Michael is banished from the pool. Michael, I love you, but stop because “this is Greg’s story,” says the off-camera voice referring to the other man. The commercial made me laugh out loud but it also made me think how it might resonate with people who constantly fight to not be compared to others.
Comparing ourselves to others
In the world of multiple sclerosis, it is very easy to slip into thinking ‘she has it worse’ or questioning ‘why can he do so much more than me?’ instead of focusing solely on our own progress and efforts. It’s a dangerous mental game that we often play with ourselves – comparing our own disease with that of others. It’s similar to the mental game of wondering who is prettier, who has more money or who has more of anything that undermines confidence and our own happiness. The reality is there will always be someone with more and someone with less, and knowing where we fall into that picture is of no benefit to our health and wellbeing.
Education is key
How do we keep from doing this? For one thing, I recommend education. The more you know about MS the more the reality of how different it is from one person to the next becomes clear. There are many types of MS, and even more sub-types. Then there are people who are in different phases of the disease with their own treatment. Just like those snowflakes, there are no two people with MS the same – we are all affected differently.
We also have to allow ourselves to acknowledge we don’t need to be physically worse or better than others for our own struggles with MS to have an impact in our life. It seems to be ingrained in human thinking to want to compare and that can be damaging to ourselves and others. We can be our best living with MS, whatever form that might take, and not worry if that is good enough compared to others.
I know this all sounds simple but we need to be like Greg in that commercial and kick Michael out of the pool and be our own champion. Keep in mind that just like there’s only one Michael Phelps, there is also only one of you.
Wishing you well,
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?