Often when I feel like I have gotten to a good place in my life, along comes someone that seems like they have it much better in comparison. I know that I personally tend to make comparisons, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone. But comparing ourselves to others steals our peace and joy!
So, when does comparison start to rear its ugly head? I believe that it is pretty darn early in our lives. As a little girl, I wanted blond hair and cute ponytails like Cindy Brady on The Brady Bunch television show. In addition, I had a friend that had a speaker system and indoor pool in her house, and I was very envious.
This comparison problem persisted for me up through high school, college, and into adulthood, although the things that I compare have shifted over time. I no longer covet blond ponytails and a speaker system (those are a little obsolete). Now, my husband talks to me through the doorbell when he isn’t even home! At this point in my life, I’m most likely to feel pangs of jealousy related to job achievements, material possessions, cool vacations, and families that seem to have it all together. Mine does not.
We may perceive that others have more, which makes us feel bad about ourselves. Never has this been more prevalent than with the emergence of social media where the Joneses are in our face all the time. It just takes a scroll to see an update that makes us feel envious or like our life pales in comparison to others.
Back in the day, there was no social media and no Smart Phones. We didn’t know what was going on in the lives of others unless we heard it through the grapevine, maintained contact by phone, wrote letters, or saw that person. I know that is hard for young people to believe but somehow, we survived. And we had to walk uphill in the snow to school (not really). But I will have some great 2020/2021 stories to share with my grandkids!
We have great value in God’s eyes, so why do we constantly make these comparisons? It is so easy to think that if we had more or knew more, we would be happy. However, even people who “have it all” still struggle with comparison. The Bible opens with the story of Eve, a woman who had everything, but it wasn’t enough for her.
Here are five things that can help when you have the urge to compare.
- Become aware of and avoid your triggers
Think about the activities or circumstances that make you feel discontent about your life. To identify your triggers, ask yourself questions like:
- What books or magazines do I need to stop reading?
- What social media accounts or people do I need to stop following?
- What TV shows do I need to stop watching?
- Are there any places I need to stop going?
- Are there any people I need to spend less time around?
- Remind yourself that you can’t use a person’s outward appearance to judge the reality of their lives
As mentioned, people carefully craft the social media and public versions of themselves that look like they have it much more together than they really do. Everyone is fighting battles that we know nothing about, and most people don’t put it out for others to see.
- Count your blessings
Think about what you have and are already blessed with, not what you don’t. Consider how fortunate you are to have the people and things that are in your life.
- Love your neighbor
We can’t love people well when we’re too busy trying to measure our value by them or prove ourselves better than them. First Corinthians 13 says, “love rejoices with others.” Love doesn’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed. Maybe a coworker gets a promotion, or a friend loses weight and looks great. Instead of succumbing to comparison, compliment them!
- Focus on the Lord
Focus on Him when you are tempted to compare yourself to others. We can be content if we keep our eyes focused on Him and his design for our lives.