Three Reasons You Should Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Have you ever looked around at your colleagues and wondered how they all seemed to have it together more than you? I have. I'm going to take a guess, since you clicked on this post, you have too. Many of us experience a phenomenon known as imposter syndrome. We believe that everyone else knows what they are doing and we are just making it up as we go. Due to the imposter syndrome fallacy many people live in fear of being "found out." We harbor an underlying belief that we are going to be faced with a situation in which our incompetence will be brought out into the open. This fear, this anxiety, is what keeps us from reaching our full God given potential.
The statement "Comparison is the thief of joy" has been linked to many individuals, among them Theodore Roosevelt. I believe this statement is absolutely true. When we start comparing ourselves to others, without fail, our self-perceived faults come to light. To use a social media example, we often get on Facebook to check out what our friends and family members are doing. While there we might see our cousin's cruise pictures, our high school friend's wedding pictures, and a friend of a friend's promotion at work. When you put all these stimuli together, it wouldn't be unreasonable to make the assumption that your life isn't as good as theirs. What we often fail to realize when perusing social media is that we are seeing the picture-perfect aspects of our friend's lives. The bad and ugly parts of life are often left on the cutting room floor when we are deciding what to post on social media.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others Today
1. The Bible talks about how each person has been given a special gift or talent:
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. - 1 Peter 4:10-11
To use an example from my own life, when the urge to compare comes up, it is usually because I'm working with a super organized "type A" individual (fun fact: I married one of those). In the past, I have told myself I am not good enough because my brain doesn't work like that. I am not super organized in my everyday life and doing things last minute (taxes) doesn't bother me at all. That being said, in my professional life I am much more organized. I keep a hard copy planner and set phone reminders to stay the course. Over the years, I have developed a system for playing to my strengths, while being knowledgeable of my areas of growth. Maybe my files aren't color coded and alphabetized, but I am good at developing and nurturing relationships and helping people with problems.
2. The Bible asks us to examine our own actions, not those of others:
Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. Assume your own responsibility. -Galatians 6:4-5
I once saw a picture of a turtle, elephant, fish, and monkey taking the same standardized test of climbing a tree. Naturally, the monkey excelled while the others couldn't complete the task. In life, sometimes I have been the monkey, but lots of others times I have been the fish staring at the monkey and wondering how he did it. Imagine we change the standardized test to a swimming test; in this case the turtle and fish might excel while the monkey might struggle. The takeaway, is that all of us have unique talents that separate us from others (basically we are good at some things and we stink at other things). If we focus on maximizing our strengths instead of worrying about the strengths of others, then we can be proud of what we have accomplished.
3. Who's Approval are you seeking?
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. -Galatians 1:10
Often when we are comparing ourselves to others, we are doing so because we are seeking approval from someone. Maybe if you could be more like that other woman in the office, the boss might notice you and give you a promotion and then your life would be better. You might be right, maybe some things in your life will improve if you get the promotion but at what cost? To be more like that other woman, you would have to give up something that makes you...you.
For example, I know extraverts tend to be valued more in business settings because they exude higher levels of energy in social situations. I am NOT an extrovert. In fact, after a day of high-level socializing, I need a 24-hour respite to be human again. I have tried to fake extroversion in the past and paid the price. Overtime, I have matured in my thinking and now I realize I don't have to try to please people by being someone I'm not. I continually remind myself that I only have to seek the approval of God and he created me just how he wants me.
Are you comparing yourself to someone today? Is the comparison helping you achieve the goal of living your best life? Is it helping you to become stronger spiritually? If you answered no to any of these questions, take a few moments to sit with the verses mentioned above. Take out your journal, write them down. Keep writing. Explore on paper how these verses can change your way of thinking and help you break the cycle of toxic comparison.