Have you ever heard of the statement “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? In one way these are the best of times. Look at the advancements our society has achieved. However, when it comes to the issue of comparing ourselves with others, it is the worst of times. Has there ever been a time in history where we can actively and consistently see what is going in the lives of others? Social media has been one of the biggest tools for allowing us to see the lives of others on a regular basis. While social media has been revolutionary in terms of connecting us with one another, social media has also enhanced one of the biggest struggles that many of us deal with daily: comparing ourselves with others.
Why is comparing ourselves so destructive?
- It creates a perfectionist mindset that keeps us from achieving. A perfectionist lives with an “it’s never good enough” attitude daily. This attitude keeps the perfectionist from going ahead and starting the business, starting the project or whatever endeavor they’re working on. One thing that fuels this mindset is the art of comparison. When we see how another person does what they do, the perfectionist will try to copy everything the person does instead of taking in the main ingredients from it. For example, when coaches study one another, they’re not doing it to try to be like each other, they’re doing it to see how they can become better individually. In the world of a perfectionist, it has to match what someone else does for it to be accepted. I will admit that more and more I see myself as a perfectionist, but I’m asking God to help me strive for excellence NOT perfectionism.
- It robs us of our unique value and contributions. You’ve probably heard this before, but I think it bares reminding: you are a unique human being! The art of comparison tries to make everyone feel like only certain ones have contributions to make. However, life has given us only one you. You are the only you that will EVER exist. When you compare yourself to someone, you pretty much say to the world that you do not have anything to bring to this world and that all you are is just a human being walking around trying to survive. I will discuss this a little more later, but for now, I want you to remember that God has placed you on this earth for a purpose. It’s about high time that you focus on that instead of what others are doing in their own life.
- It keeps us in a mindset of competing with each other instead of supporting one another. This is a serious issue that really annoys me. At the end of the day we have no business living with an attitude of competition towards one another. All of us are trying to navigate through this thing called life. As plenty of research has shown, there is infinite power in relationships. These relationships cannot be cultivated within the realm of competition and comparing ourselves to others. The art of comparison can lead us to viewing each other as enemies on opposite teams vs allies on the same team doing different things in various ways. When we compare ourselves to others, we view the person we’re comparing our self to as the competition. Instead of working within our sweet spot, we try to find a way to out do the person we’re comparing our self with. Life is too short and too precious to try to keep up with what others are doing. Instead, we should focus on what we’re doing and find ways to get better daily. As someone has said, we should view ourselves as our greatest competition NOT others.
So how do we overcome this stronghold of comparison?
- Admitting that it’s a problem. We should all know by now that the key to getting healed of any of our issues boils down to us being honest about what’s going on. One way to know that you’re struggling with comparison is by your attitude when you see others around you achieving. Are you jealous or celebratory? As we examine our attitude when we see others achieve, it will give us a good measure of how bad the issue of comparison is in our lives. You will never overcome the issue of comparison by hiding it or acting like it doesn’t exist. Remember that most attitudes are revealed eventually through our actions. I hate to use this word because I think it’s overblown, but this is where the idea of “haters” comes in. It’s not that the person actually “hates” you, it’s that the person hates the idea of what you’re doing. We have to admit that we have a hater mentality and work on getting rid of it. At the end of the day, confession is good for us and will put us on the path of victory over the issue of comparing ourselves.
- Reminding ourselves of how unique we are in the world. Let me repeat what I said earlier: you are a unique human being! I define unique has being different, extraordinary, special, etc. As we move forward in our lives, we should take time daily to remind ourselves that there will never be another version of us to walk this earth. These reminders will help me focus on doing my best with what God has placed in me (more on that in just a moment). What are you telling yourself daily? Are you focusing on what you lack compared to another person, or are you focused on what makes you stand out from the crowd? This is a huge issue for all age groups, but is vitally important in telling our kids. As our kids grow up, their image becomes a huge issue for them. When they are in school, they are bombarded with ways to compare themselves with others. It is the responsibility of parents, the supportive community and other positive adults to remind our children of their uniqueness. It is a shame and travesty when we compare our kids to another group of kids or our home to another home. Every home situation is unique. Every child is unique. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with the child, discover their strengths and build on that. The last thing children need is another reason to say that they’re not good enough. And here’s the scary part: when we fail to cultivate the uniqueness of our child, we set that child up to struggle with this issue into adulthood and if it’s a struggle in adulthood, they are in trouble. Every single person in this world is unique, including you.
- Staying away from triggers that lead to comparison. There’s a pretty popular person that I know has admitted to struggling with comparison. He also stressed how social media can be a trigger (what I was talking about earlier). He recommended that if it’s necessary, we may need to take some time away from social media to help us overcome the issue of comparing ourselves. There may be other triggers in your life that lead you to comparing yourself with others. Whatever those triggers are, find them and get away from them.
- Maintaining an attitude of gratitude for your unique gifts. If you’ve never done this, I want you to take a moment and think about every gift and talent you possess. If you want to, write down your gifts and talents on a piece of paper (keep it and don’t lose it). Take some time and thank God for every gift and talent you have. When you have a mindset of gratitude, it keeps you from being jealous and envious of what someone else has. Instead, the attitude of gratitude allows you to focus solely on what God has blessed you with. We do not have to wait until Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for our gifts. I believe we should wake up each day determined to use our gifts and talents for the positive advancement of our world. However, it starts with thanking God each day for our strengths and gifts.
If you’re like me and struggle with comparing yourself to others, you are not alone. Many people silently struggle with this issue. Can I tell you this? As hard as it may be for you to believe this, even the most popular people struggle with this issue. There are so many adults who did not get their gifts and talents cultivated properly in childhood. Also, some of those same adults may have struggled with not fitting in as a child (and may struggle with it today). Whatever the struggle is, I want you to know that we’re in this struggle together. Life is too short and precious for us to be stuck in the boat of comparing ourselves to others. You are too valuable and precious in the eyesight of God. I challenge us today to go forth and accomplish everything God has placed in us. With God as the majority, you are on the path to do great things for the Kingdom of God! Go forth!!