The Comparison Trap

It comes so naturally to us.

Comparing.

In many areas of life, comparison is good.

Shopping for a car? Compare.

Shopping for a house? Compare.

Considering a career choice? Compare.

But comparison can become a problem, particularly when we compare who we are to who someone else is.



But I'll be a little more personal about it. I sometimes compare who I am to who another person is.

I compare my accomplishments to theirs.

I compare my skills to theirs.

Just about anything else you can imagine about your life can be compared to someone else's life.

Body shape and size; athletic ability; musical ability; academic performance; popularity; income; family size; performance of children; type of car you own; where you live; your lifestyle; and the list continues.

I don't know where you are at in life, but I know that comparing yourself to someone isn't going to help you improve anything.

The Problems with Comparing Yourself to Others:

1. Jealousy

When you see someone else that has "more" than you (or so you perceive it), it can easily cause you to feel jealous--like you deserve what that person has.

2. Inadequacy

This can tag along with jealousy or be independent. Either way, you think the person you are looking at is so much better than you and has everything all figured out. Their life is just amazing, and you could never be like that.

3. Unfair

Nearly all comparisons between yourself and someone else are unfair. You are not that person, and they are not you. You have different backgrounds, different ideas, different skills, different passions, different bodies, different minds, and different lives.

If you draw any conclusions from your comparisons (which we all do), it's not fair because you cannot be expected to achieve what someone else achieves. You cannot demand (from God or the universe) that you receive equal distribution of assets. It just doesn't work like that.

You can only be responsible for what you do with what you have. You must compare yourself, not to another person, but to the person you know you can become. If you strive to meet that standard, then you will benefit.

4. Superiority

The flip-side of inadequacy (#2) is that your comparisons make you feel better than other people. 

You look down your nose at those "lesser" folks because you are the premiere human specimen. You have blazed a trail to success and fortune, and it's all because of how wonderful you are.

If this applies to you, please listen. 

You're not better.

Ditch the Comparisons!

Regardless of whether you find yourself on the "top" or the "bottom" of your comparisons, it's not a healthy practice to engage in.

Yet we all do it.

Why?

We feel compelled to "measure" ourselves, yet we can't find a decent tape measure. We look everywhere to find something with which to measure ourselves; and the easiest, most accessible "tape measure" is other people--usually people with whom we are familiar. We compare ourselves to friends, family members, coworkers, and sometimes even to famous actors/actresses or athletes.

I'm not implying that I have this all figured out. 

No, I'm still human. I still fight the urge.

But let me encourage you (and me) today.

If you are feeling happy or sad as a result of a comparison you've made, please come back to reality. 

It's not about that other person! If that person is doing well and has desirable characteristics, be happy for them. Cheer them on. Be excited that his/her life is going well.

But the comparison issue is about you (and me).

Our value in life is not tied to our accomplishments, our income, our education, or any other societal measure.

Whoever you are comparing yourself to, stop it.

II Corinthians 10:12 ...They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Image credit:
Apple and orange comparison image from http://justjennee.com/2013/09/04/the-amazing-race-of-life-13-reasons-why-you-need-to-stop-comparing-yourself-to-others/

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