5 tips to overcome the thoughts of comparison
by Carol Yasin
Have you ever felt that you are not up to something when you compare yourself with others? Or have you felt superior when you imagine that they are not worthy when compared to you? Do we secretly envy our friends who have or make more than we do?
Theodore Roosevelt once said,
Comparison is the thief of Joy
Yes, it steals the joy from us.
As I was watching the movie “The Croods”, the father Crood named ‘Crug’ starts comparing to the person named ‘Guy’ in the movie and ends up in spoiling the happiness of the family. He calls for a question to himself when he was trapped in a cave, “What would Guy do?”. Yes, sometimes, we compare ourselves with others. But how does this story end? He gets away from the cave only when he realizes his strength and questions himself “What would I do?”, in this situation.
“I keep on comparing myself with others who are doing well and feel so discouraged.“ Have you thought so? You are not the only one to think like that. I have compared myself with others since I was a kid. And we live in the world where comparison starts from the time you are born. When my daughter stepped into this world, from the day she was born, I can see my family and relatives comparing her with other kids and making suggestions. From our family to our teachers and then in our workplace, everyone compares. We compare ourselves with others. It sets out from school, where we compare ourselves with what the other kids have. It doesn’t end there! When we get into our college, we start comparing ourselves with others in our studies and some with their attitudes. I recall the days before our exam, the fear of what others would have studied will take control than the fear of our exam. And after college, when we meet our friends after so many years, the first question that comes would be “What are you doing for a living? Where are you working?” We start comparing our salaries and position with them.
This either makes us inadequate or sometimes pride comes and sits on our head.
Today, before we learn some tips to overcome this, we will look into some effects of comparison!
I remember myself jealous of my school friend, I always felt she was smarter than me. Being a studious person, I didn’t get myself involved in school sports. She excelled at everything. Though she was my best friend in the school, I had a jealousy against her in my heart. Where does it have its origin? When I began comparing myself to her. Comparing is the root cause of jealousy. And this had its start from Genesis.
Genesis 4:3-8 (NKJV)
And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
We see the brothers from the first family. Of course, they would have loved each other. But one murdered the other. Why? Jealousy! We are frequently tempted by the lust for honor or recognition. When God honored Abel and not Cain, Cain killed his brother in the field when they were alone.
And we have the story of Leah and Rachel in Genesis 30, where they compare themselves to each other and had a contest in winning the love of a man out of jealousy on each other.
There comes, Saul in 1 Samuel 18, where he tries to kill David out of jealousy when he sees people comparing him to David.
It didn’t stop with the Old Testament. Martha compared herself with Mary and wondered who is more spiritual?
And even the disciples compared themselves and kept cornering Jesus, who would sit on His right and who would take the left. We could go on and on.
2. Pride and Self-righteousness:
In Luke 18, Jesus shares the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The parable shows us how the Pharisee prayed by comparing himself with the tax collector.
There was a pride involved in prayer. We know that pride is a sin.
John says in 1 John 2:16(NLT),
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
It is the temptation of excess greatness or power and we feel superior to others. We fail to give the glory to God and become entangled in the pride of life.
Comparison sometimes discourages us from performing our tasks. When we find out someone doing things better than us, we get discouraged and sometimes feel like quitting the task we do. Remember the story of 12 spies in the Book of Numbers?
And they returned from spying out the land after forty days. Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.”
When the spies reported to Moses and the people of Israel after snooping the land of Canaan, 10 out of 12 gave a negative report and discouraged the people of Israel. What happened there? They compared themselves with the descendants of Anak and they felt that they were stronger than them. We all know what happened later. They failed to trust themselves and the One who brought them there resulting in being prohibited from entering the Cannan except Joshua and Caleb.
(To read more on how to overcome discouragement, click here)
We sometimes become pessimistic in everything we do and with everything that come our way. When we start comparing with others, we focus more on the things which we don’t possess rather than what we have and the result is, we start looking into the negative side and start saying, “I won’t get better things.” “I am not blessed like them”. “I will never get into that position”. These thoughts run in our veins when we start seeing others and live our life empty.
5. Finding faults:
When I was studying in school, during our exams, we used to have a healthy competition. When our mark-sheets come to our hands, what we do is, we get the mark-sheets of others who got higher marks than us and start comparing our paper with them. We use to check line by line, so that we will be very keen to find a mistake in their paper and make them lose their marks.
In our life too, when we compare with others, we will be watching them very closely to find faults so that we can criticize them before everyone and show others that we are better than them. Or we start reasoning for things they have and start giving reasons for why we lack in that.
When we are trapped by this comparison, we forget to thank God for what we have. We always pray to God, “Lord, give me a car as he/she have”. “Give me a better position in my company than him/her”. We start asking God for more things and we stop thanking God for the beautiful life He has given to us. Even when we do get some things, it is never good enough or sufficient
So… how do we stop comparing ourselves? How do we live the different way? Here are some tips!
1. Remember who you are:
God created you in His own image. God’s creation is unique and when He created you, He had a special plan devised for you. Start focusing on that. We have each been fashioned to fulfill a special role and all are equally important in the body of Christ. Comparing yourself to others is missing what God has for your life. The Bible says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Ignore what others say about you and understand what cost God has for you. We need to accept that we are originals of God and we are unique in His creation. God has a specific plan for you and you won’t accomplish that plan when you keep looking at others.
The Psalmist says in Psalm 139:13-14 (NCV),
You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body.I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well.
God created everyone in a unique way. Every individual is different. We cannot find someone with our same fingerprints. Each individual is created by God with a purpose. We should have as much respect for ourselves as our Maker has for us.
The best antidote for comparing is thanking God for what we are and all that we have. Make a list of all we are thankful for. What are you thankful for today? When you look into your past and think what God has done in your life, are you thankful? When you consider your job and career, what can you give thanks for? Are you thankful for the family God has given, for the job and the resources to make it through the day? Are you thankful for the friends you have? When we stop comparing others and begin to thank God for what He has given us, it will break the power of envy in our hearts and lives.
Paul states in Philippians 4:6 (NLT),
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
3. Stop focusing on others:
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
Paul asks us to focus on ourselves and our work. It is not self-centered. He asks us to focus on God wants us to do. What others do is not our business to focus on. We have our own work to do. We miss our mark when we look into them and we will tend to miss what God had for us. Our eyes should be focused on Christ alone. We need to forget those things and move ahead for what Christ has for us. Focus on the Lord when you are tempted to compare yourself with others. David, when he was given the armor to wear to fight against Goliath, it didn’t fit him in. He didn’t go searching for different armor so that he can replicate others. Instead, he focused on God. He focused on God’s character and not on his opponent. He trusted God who helped him in the past would help him to fight against Goliath and bring him victory. Yes, we need to focus on the God who helped us in the past. He is the same and we need to trust on His faithfulness.
4. Be Content with what you have:
The Webster’s dictionary simple definition of ‘Content’ is ‘pleased and satisfied – not needing more’. It is a choice where we can choose to be content, no matter however our circumstances are. When we are satisfied and we know that, God is in Control, we will never look into others and get discouraged.
Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13 as,
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength.
Paul explains the secret of being content with what we have. When you think, that you don’t have what you want and others have that, learn to rely on God’s promises and His power to help you be content. When you need more and you are not satisfied with what you have than others, ask God to take that thought out of your mind. Allow Him to work on you. He will teach you how to be satisfied with what we have, and we should detach from the nonessential worldly things and concentrate on the eternal things.
5. Pleasing God is all that matters:
Just ask yourself, why do we compare ourselves with others? The answer may be, ‘I wanted to live a glorious life’, ‘ I wanted to be noticed by everyone than others’. That will be the ultimate reason. To please and to be notified by others. A kid tries to get our attention from a parent, when he/she is not cared enough that his/her sibling. We want that appraisal of men throughout our life. But, our ultimate purpose in our life is to please God alone.
2 Corinthians 5:9 (NLT),
So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
So to conclude, when we compare ourselves with others, we become jealous of the of the other person and we have a thought like they are blessed than us. And in the other way, we become prideful and lose our sight of God as the hypocrite do, we become self-centered. In either way, we miss the things of God and by God in our life and start focusing on ourselves. Without Him, we are nothing. We need to compare our standards with God’s alone and focus on Him to become like Jesus. Remember, we are highly favored, we are blessed, we are the chosen generation of Christ. And when we humble ourselves before God, we will start feeling the gratitude in our heart and we will start thanking God for what we have.
“Everyone is unique in His kingdom and everyone has their own impact to make”
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