I was in kindergarten the first time I remember comparing myself to someone. We sat in a circle for show-and-tell as a classmate pulled a shiny pair of black shoes with ribbon ties out of a silky bag. She put those shiny shoes on her feet and tapping around the circle, drumming out a rhythm with toes and then heels. When she finished her little dance, everyone clapped, including me, but in my five-year-old heart, I suddenly felt lacking. I didn’t have a shiny, black, beribboned pair of shoes that tapped out a rhythm that made people applaud.
As adults, even if we don’t admit it, we often compare ourselves to others. But making comparisons is a trap that leads you down a side trail of uncertainty and self-doubt, and thwarts forward motion. Following are the pitfalls of measuring yourself against others:
Comparisons create dissatisfaction.
You can always find someone prettier, thinner, smarter, more skilled, more accomplished, or with more possessions, connections, or success than you. Comparing yourself to others causes you to be dissatisfied with who you are and what you have. Instead, consider the many ways you are blessed and give thanks, even when circumstances and situations make thanksgiving challenging.
Comparisons aren’t accurate.
The advent of social media ramped up the tendency to make comparisons. It’s easy for people to post gushy accounts of accomplishments, trips, how great their spouse is, or myriad other boasts, but you never know what their lives are really like. What you see in others is what they want you to see, but not always the truth. Public persona and private reality are often very different. And comparisons aren’t always equal. Someone may seem hugely successful, while privately struggle with addiction or depression.
Comparisons stomp your self-esteem.
Comparing yourself to others diminishes how you view yourself. It’s easy to focus on the positives in everyone else while highlighting the negatives in yourself. Do yourself a favor; remember your gifts and talents instead of focusing on your flaws. There are enough critics in the world without constantly criticizing yourself.
Conversely, it’s easy to use others as your yardstick for the purpose of self-elevation. None of us is perfect, but when you measure yourself against those you feel superior to, you are using an inaccurate barometer.
Comparisons move you sideways.
When you compare yourself to others, you halt forward motion, and waste a lot of time assessing, reassessing, and trying to recreate yourself into someone you’re not. Comparisons are a lateral move. They sidetrack you from the plan and purposes God has for you.
Comparisons dishonor the true you.
As you make comparisons, you may begin to make changes to emulate those you admire or envy. Perhaps you change the way you dress, adjust your vocabulary, abandon trusted friends, or try to adopt a different lifestyle. Yet you may discover you feel only frustration. Changes that alter the real you dishonor the person God created you to be. Learn to recognize blessings, accept and embrace who you are, and realize the pitfalls of comparisons.
“We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original” (Galatians 5:26 MSG).