I hate it when I compare myself to others. To be honest, I do this a lot—whether it’s comparing our church with other churches in the area, my Facebook and Twitter follower count to other people, or my blogging ability to other bloggers and etc… I compare myself to others and it sucks.
I wish I could blame this all on social media, but the reality is it’s something that has plagued me for most of my life and it is a family habit passed on from the beginning—my ancient relatives talked about this thousands of years ago—you might have heard the story of Cain comparing his gift to his brother Abel. Yeah, that story. Cain and Abel’s story ultimately led to one killing the other.
My compare-game hasn’t led me to murdering anybody, at least not literally. But sometimes it has caused me to feel hate towards others, it’s caused me to gossip, and at the very least dislike those who I am comparing myself to.
I usually find myself playing the compare game when I look at people who have achieved or are achieving goals or dreams I have for myself. Instead of celebrating with them or learning from them, I find when I compare myself to others, it usually affects me in a few different ways…
I get angry and bitter.
I get paralyzed and inactive.
I get depressed and feel like a failure.
I get reclusive and withdrawn.
Which results in me…
Not realizing my potential or dreams, and not finishing anything—I become a quitter.
Not getting to see who I truly am—especially how God sees me.
Not benefitting from other people and other people not benefitting from me.
It’s a trap that is destructive.
The compare Game leads to an unproductive and unfinished life or worst yet, it can lead to an unauthentic life—a life we pretend to have or one we wish we had.
You know the saying perception is everything. I don’t necessarily agree with this statement, but I do believe perception can influence not only how we see people, but especially how we see ourselves. Often our perception of others or the way we think how other people’s lives are is unclear or is an incomplete picture of how things really are. It can also cause us to play the compare game—seeing how we measure up to the success of others.
When we venture to compare our lives to others, we are already at a disadvantage—no two people or circumstances are exactly the same. Our stories are unique to us and shouldn’t be compared to others. I am not saying we should never look at other peoples lives and learn from their successes and failures, but comparing to see if we measuring up to people and learning from people are two different things. One is about pride and the other is about humility. You will either humble yourself and learn from them or you’ll become prideful and unteachable—you will get better or you won’t.
Everybody’s life is messy.
Don’t covet other peoples success or rejoice in their failures. Seek to learn from others, but don’t become fixated on their successes or failures. Everyone’s lives are messy—depending on what stage you are in will determine how big your mess is.
I wish I could say that I am cured from comparing myself to others, but I am not. I can’t promise I won’t ever do it again. But what I can say is I try learn from other people, and work on making my own story everything it can be, so I can help other people realize the same.
One other thing—the person(s) I look to the most and try to learn from is Jesus, and people I know who seek to become more like Jesus. In Jesus, we see who God is—in fact when Jesus was asked to show people who God is—he said whoever sees him, sees the God. Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature (John 14:8-11 and Hebrews 1:3). Jesus wants to help you rewrite your story and let you share in his success—he wants to help you live a full life, one that only he can give. Jesus wants to redeem, restore, and reconcile your life to the one you were meant to have. I suggest you begin by reading the gospels more and follow Jesus.
Rejoice and be content in your own unique story. Work on the things you need to work on, fix the things you need to fix, and be okay with the things you can do nothing about—all of these add to your own unique story and make you the beautiful person you are.