I found myself comparing all day yesterday. I haven’t done that since I was an insecure teenager with a freakishly large bosom and stringy hair. It started in the morning when I became jealous of a friend who celebrated her weight loss via social media. We are on the same nutritional program, yet my body is taking its sweet time shedding pounds. That afternoon, while sipping champagne at a local winery with two girlfriends, I felt frumpy and inadequate in my blue jeans and gray polka-dot shirt. Then later that night, after a delicious dinner at our friends’ immaculate home, I resolved to hate my own house, furniture, and décor. Did I mention my friend is also a professional chef? My husband never ate so well in all our 20 years. Comparatively speaking, I had a rough day.
Comparison is human nature. It is common for us to compare ourselves and our circumstances to others, especially in social settings. Doing so, however, is not inherently bad. In fact, comparison can be a powerful motivator. It can give us that gentle push we need to step into our own destiny. My husband once told me the dedication I exhibited while obtaining a graduate degree inspired him to acquire his own. The comparison applied in this sense is healthy. Nevertheless, by allowing ourselves to be negatively influenced and distracted by our differences, we open the door to jealousy, insecurity, and discontent. That is what happened to me yesterday, but God is merciful. Rather than condemning me, He used my love of track and field to teach me a valuable lesson in comparison.
I am not a graceful runner, so I admire the athleticism and grit displayed by those who do it well. When watching Olympic events on television, I especially enjoy it when the cameras pan to the runners’ faces as they anticipate the pop of the starter pistol. Their stoic expressions suggest they are focused on the run, not the competition or the crowd. When the race starts, the only stride, pace, breathing rhythm, and finish they care about is their own.
Scripture says we are to run with endurance the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1). Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to run the race of another. Our job is to remain steadfast and run our race, keeping our eyes on the prize [Jesus] – not on the crowd, the competition, our colleagues, neighbors, family, or friends.
Look, I know resisting the urge to compare ourselves to others can be tough, that is why I put together five strategies that I have vowed to apply to my own life. Perhaps you will find value in them also.
- Cultivate Gratitude: Focus on what you have and what you have achieved rather than what you lack in comparison to others. Regularly remind yourself of your own strengths, accomplishments, and blessings.
- Practice Self-Awareness: Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings when you find yourself comparing, then take a moment to reflect on why you are doing it.
- Set Personal Goals: Instead of comparing with others, set meaningful goals for yourself. Focus on your growth and progress and measure yourself against your own standards rather than external benchmarks.
- Limit Social Media Consumption: Social media platforms often amplify feelings of comparison, as people tend to present distorted versions of their lives. Consider limiting your time on social media or changing your feeds to include positive and inspiring content rather than content that triggers comparison.
- Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend. When you are tempted to compare yourself to someone else, quickly flip the script and give yourself a heartfelt compliment.
That last one can be difficult, especially when comparison first rears its ugly head, but I encourage you to join me in giving it a try. I’ll close out this blog post by going first, using yesterday as an example.
- I may not have lost as much weight as my friend, but it has only been three weeks and I have lost five pounds so far!
- My jeans and polka-dot shirt were comfy and appropriate for a warm day of outdoor wine tasting. And I looked cute!
- God has blessed my husband and me with a beautiful home. Every room is furnished and it is warm, inviting, and cozy!
- I may not be a professional chef, but I make the best chicken wings in the world; my husband told me so.
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Lord, I come before You burdened by the challenges of comparison and the busyness of life. I ask for Your forgiveness and Your help in navigating through the demands of my day while grappling with the weight of comparing myself to others. Grant me the strength to recognize my unique worth and find contentment in the path You have set before me. My heart is humbled with a desire to run the race you have for me with perseverance and grace. You know the journey I am on, the challenges I face, and the aspirations that stir within me. I ask for Your guidance, strength, and unwavering support as I seek to run my race well.