“It’s ok that you aren’t this or that. You! I choose you!” – Heather Holleman, Included in Christ
A beast that everyone experiences — who shouts the same message over and over again,
“You just don’t measure up!”
And, it’s not just comparison to others — their bodies, houses, incomes, phase of life, relationships or fill in the blank — but a comparison to yourself — at a previous time — can crush your spirit and cause you to miss out on the life right in front of you.
It seems harmless enough at first, but if you don’t get this monster under control it can control or even destroy you.
Here are three reasons why I think comparison is one of the scariest monsters hiding under the bed of your life:
Reason # 1 – Liar Liar, Pants on Fire
“No, No I’m really Happy For You.” <sniff, sniff>
Comparison can rob you of healthy relationships and make you a bitter bitty.
How can you truly be happy for someone else who has something you long for or who’s achievement causes you to ask the question, “What have I been doing with my life?”
The answer is: It’s just plain hard. And, it’s even harder if your identity rises or falls with the successes of others. You cannot gauge how you are doing in life based on the people around you. You aren’t them. That’s is really easy to say, but really hard to live out.
If someone in your life has what you ache for it’s painful. There’s no getting around it. And, when that happens — cause it will — pretending it doesn’t hurt or stuffing your feelings won’t help.
Step back from the situation and remind yourself that you are your own person and your value doesn’t depend on how they are doing at life. If you are a praying person, ask God to help.
I believe, the story being written through your life is different than anyone else’s. If you can remind yourself of that — sometimes over and over again— you can be freed to celebrate with people you care about.
Reason # 2 – Trapper Keeper
Comparison can keep you stuck.
When I first started gaining weight back a few years ago, one of the things that brought me the most shame was when I compared my struggle to my past successes.
“This wasn’t hard before. Why is it hard now? What is wrong with me?”
The more I struggled, the more shame I felt and the more I wanted to turn to food for escape and comfort. And, so went the merry-go-round.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with this type of comparison in terms of my beliefs.
I’ve had a bizarre allergy issue that keeps me homebound a majority of the time. My struggles started over two years, and for some reason last year I felt closer to God than I do right now. Sometimes, I feel numb towards and it’s hard for me to connect with Him.
I have to battle the shame and questions that come when I compare today’s Deanna with last year’s Deanna.
If food or God isn’t your thing, can you relate to patterns like this in your own life?
I’ve found that comparison of your feelings or performance in any area to past feelings or performance makes you want to give up and avoid _____________ altogether.
You aren’t the same person you were a year ago and neither am I. You could waste your time comparing “current you” to “old you,” but I can tell you it’s not going to get you anywhere worth going. But, even knowing this, it’s still a struggle.
Reason # 3 – Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Comparison makes you ugly.
One of the grossest things you can do — even without realizing it sometimes — is compare yourself to someone’s failures or shortcomings in an effort to boost your own self-esteem.
No one usually wants to admit it, but — you do it and I do it — everyone does it. What a truly selfish way to use other people. Ew.
Where Do You Find Your Identity?
Your identity and worth have to be able to stand on their own, apart from the success or failures of others. And, until you start to tame the beast of comparison, the cycle will continue.
My faith has a lot to say about this.
If I truly believe that I am — and you are — created in the image of — in someway look like or act like or reflect — God, then every person — gross or awesome — has innate dignity and purpose <cough, cough even your least favorite celeb or politician 😐>.
Christianity says — though Christians don’t always act like it’s true — everyone’s identity comes from what God says is true about you not how you feel about yourself, how well you perform, battle the beast of comparison or how you stack up against the rest.
I’m not saying any of this is easy to believe or do. And, perhaps your beliefs or values tell you something else entirely. But, no matter what, everyone has to figure out how to fight the battle of comparison — even if that means screaming back in an effort to silence it and remind yourself what is true about you.