Stop Comparing Yourself
For years I have fought the private struggle of comparison. I have walked around with a mental measuring stick and put myself up against every beautiful, thin, talented, popular woman I met and somehow always found myself lacking.
This struggle has plagued me for as long as I have memories. The movie that plays in my mind, is one of an awkward child, with large nostrils, bad hair, and a butt that would never need implants. Always that kid that needed to stay in from recess or would have to stay after school for special help from the teacher. My struggles with learning just cemented in my brain that I was stupid. Another big deduction in the lacking category.
I would look to the smart girls, the girls who were naturally beautiful, the girls who were popular, dripping with people, lining up to be their friend, and wish that I could spend just one day in their skin.
This struggle with comparison grew as I did. What began on the playground, moved with me to the college campus, then to the New Married Sunday School class, my Mother of Preschoolers group, and then into the Homeschool Co-Op. This struggle has kept me awake at nights, it has kept me from pursuing friendships, it has caused me to sabotage friendships, driven my husband to madness more than a time or two, and has stolen years of joy.
I now have two gorgeous, talented daughters who are developing their own measuring stick
and the struggle has taken on new meaning for me. About a year ago, my heart was broken and convicted in ways I can’t begin to put into words as I watched one of my daughters struggle with being bullied in her youth group. I watched as she wrestled with feeling ashamed of the very things that brought her joy. Her cherished stuffed animal, My Little Pony, her art, and her looks. She was sitting on her bed trying to figure out how to let go of everything that brought her joy and made her who she was. My heart was breaking.
In one particularly heartbreaking conversation, I looked my baby girl dead in the eye and told her that she was the perfect image of who God had made her to be. That her gifts, talents, the things she thought were fun, her curls, and curves were each intentional tools that God had given to her, to walk the journey, that she was put onto this earth to accomplish.
As I spoke these words to her, I felt a deep shame. Shame for years of wasted time and experiences, hiding my own impact on the world, because of that blasted measuring stick that I carried with me. How could I speak these words to my babies and not believe them, not live them out in front of them? This was a huge turning point in my life.
Following that conversation, my daily prayer became a plea for the Lord to help me burn the sticks that always had me coming up short. I need His help to hold every negative thought captive because those negative thoughts were making me so unhappy and I was spreading that to my beautiful girls.
I have far from reached the end of this journey, but Day by Day I continue to use a few strategies to help me beat this bad habit that I have struggled with for years. These tools have made a significant difference in my fight over comparison. If you are struggling with this same issue I encourage you to try these tips.
- Make Gratitude Part of Your Daily Routine. When we spend our time consumed with trying to be someone or something else other than who we are, we miss the blessings that we hold in our hands right now. If you are reading this on a computer or phone right now, give thanks for it. If you are sitting in a comfortable spot, give thanks for it. Intentionally positioning our hearts towards what we have personally been given or a talent that is uniquely ours, we then walk with different posture. Our heads are held high, our hearts are open, and we become outwardly focused. Gratitude is a powerful thing. It causes us to shift our focus from all the things we think we should have and helps us see the reality of all the things we currently possess.
- Take Captive Every Thought. There is a war going on in my brain minute by minute, hour by hour. It is the battle between truth and lies. This battle can be fierce at times and if I let it rage for too long, can leave casualties in its wake. As the lies filter into my head that tell me that I have been measured against someone else and have come up short, I need to intentionally collect them and put them into captivity replacing them with truth, which leads me to my next step…
- Focus On the Right Things. The right focus is not on how pretty I am externally, it isn’t on what my scale reads, it’s not even about how talented I am or in what areas. The right focus needs to be about how I am showing love, how I reveal Christ in and through my words and actions. It needs to be on being patient and kind to my fellow man. The right focus needs to be on how I am improving and honing the skills and abilities that I was gifted. These are the things that I need to measure. These are the things that matter. So when I feel my thoughts shift, I need to intentionally line them up against whether or not they are truly what matters. If they aren’t things that truly matter, then I know they need to go.
- Focus On My Steps. Years ago I heard a story of a group of people who all sat together in a room. They each took a turn sharing the struggles that they were battling. One woman shared about how hard it was after losing her child. There was a woman there who was struggling with a rebellious child. A couple whose marriage was falling apart. There was a man who shared how defeated he felt after the loss of his job. The final person to speak was a woman, who was fighting a fierce battle against cancer. After she shared her struggle, another woman apologized for sharing, feeling that her “struggle” in no way compared to the woman who had lost her son or to the woman who was about to lose her life. The woman with cancer looked around the group and spoke, “If we were all to put out struggles in a pile on the floor, with the opportunity to pick up someone else’s on the way out the door tonight, chances are we would all still pick our own battle. While the struggles are tough and grueling, they are the ones that the Lord prepared us for when He knit us together in our Mama’s bellies. We have only been equipped for our own personal journey.”
All these years later and this story is still burned on my brain. Why? Because for years, I have wished that I could walk in someone else’s skin. I have wished that my story and my journey could be different, but all that wishing was an effort in futility.
I can’t walk anyone else’s journey, only my own, because it was the only journey I was equipped for way back at conception. While we may walk around wishing that we could be someone, anyone else; truly we have no idea the struggles that the people we are comparing ourselves to face every day. Chances are, if we got an up close look at their struggles, we would just pick up ours, out of the pile, on the way out the door. We were built for a journey. Our own. Walk your steps with all the tools that you were given.
These lessons are still fresh. I am still learning and growing in this area of comparison. Please know that if you have chosen to read this post, you have been prayed over, because most likely you are on this journey with me. Day by day I am working to put the ruler down and to see myself as the creation that the Lord intentionally put together. I pray that these tools will help you do the same.
Please use our comment section below to share your story of comparison with us and any helpful tools that you practice to help you overcome.