Whenever you pass your attractive neighbor, do you feel a twinge of insecurity because you think she’s more attractive than you are? After you get a promotion at work, are you smug to your coworkers? When you look at your friends on Facebook, do you feel jealous of them because you think their lives are much more exciting than yours?
If this sounds familiar, you’ve fallen into the comparison trap.We all struggle with this, so don’t be too hard on yourself. But comparing yourself to others is a trap that will only cause problems; it’ll make you feel either superior or inferior to someone else.
Galatians 6:4 even warns us not to compare ourselves to others when it says, “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.”
It’s hard, though, to get out of the trap of comparing ourselves to other people. Because once we start, we find ourselves becoming more and more enslaved to negative thoughts.
So, how can you get out of the comparison trap? There are three things you need to do.
First, be aware of your triggers. You may think looking to someone else for their approval will make you feel better about yourself. But the truth is, you’ll never find your true value by looking to others. Instead, try to discover what triggers you to feel insecure or to compare yourself with others. Make a list of who you have compared yourself to in the last 24 hours.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When do I compare myself to others?
- How do I feel when I’m on social media?
- Who makes me feel inferior or superior?
- Does someone trigger a difficult memory from my past?
Becoming more aware of your triggers will help you overcome any unhealthy patterns and negative thinking. If you need help with how to deal with triggers, you can talk with a Christian counselor.
Second, be honest about your insecurities. Perhaps you struggle at times with thinking you’re better or worse than others. Find a group or counselor who’ll help you understand why you feel this way. Despite your protective layer of feeling inferior or superior, the truth is, you still have insecurities about yourself. A Life Recovery Group can be one of the safest places for you to share about these insecurities and other struggles. Take the risk to be honest of what you are insecure about and ask for insight from the group.
You can also work on areas of your life where you feel insecure. Perhaps you are struggling with your job. Consider working on developing your skills so you can feel more competent in your work. Or perhaps it is self-esteem. Explore your talents and gifts and develop the things that you enjoy doing. If it is your health, begin a new eating plan or exercise plan to incorporate a healthy lifestyle.
And last, but certainly not least, spend time learning about how God feels about you. You are loved as you are and God has a great plan for your life!
Third, be grateful. Whenever you’re tempted to compare yourself to others, think of all your blessings. We all have so many things that we take for granted, especially when we are focused on others—when envy and jealousy rule our relationships. A good way to become aware of your blessings is to spend five to ten minutes each day to writing down the things that you’re thankful for in a journal. Research shows a multitude of physical and emotional benefits to keeping a journal about gratitude.
When you practice gratitude, it will reduce your focus on what others have. We are all so very blessed. For example, if you are reading this article, be thankful for your ability to read, and understand. As well as having the ability to use a computer, for electricity…the list can go on and on! When you focus on these amazing blessings, you will have a lift in your mood and spirit! You can end your writing time with a thanks to God!
While we all fall into the comparison trap from time to time, we don’t have to let it enslave us. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Do you want to have joy in your life again? If so, be aware of your triggers and be honest with others in your life. And don’t forget to reflect on what you have in your life that is good. After all, you have so much to be thankful for!