I’ve been doing a women’s devotional called the Comparison Trap by Sandra Stanley. It stems from a series of sermons her husband, Andy Stanley, gave where he talks about that battle with Er. Have you heard of it? The battle to be prettier, wealthier, thinner, happier, craftier… pick our own Er battle, but the truth is we all have them. Pinterest, love it, daily user, not gonna lie, gives you opportunities every day to feel less-er, comparing to the glorious homes, birthday parties, glam that others have going for them. Beyond the Joanna Gaines inspired homes I recently perused, there are many other ways we compare each day – Facebook, Instagram, you name it – people putting on their best game for us to view, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling less than.
In the devotional yesterday, I was challenged to look at what I’m jealous of, envious, where I’m dissatisfied. Here’s the straight up truth. Yes, I desire the beautifully decorated homes, but if I think of others, I’m not jealous of them. Other people who have more? I’m genuinely happy for them. And as I did the exercise, I thought I must be missing it if I didn’t have jealously, but I don’t. Then it hit me. The a-ha moment.
It’s not others I’m comparing to, it’s myself.
My own standards for excellence.
Ouch – that smack in the face hurts.
The comparison battle I wage is with myself. I fight a battle to reach a standard of excellence I’ve created in my mind. I have this ideal that has evolved over the years that I compare myself to every day. It starts each morning when I get dressed. Pants a little snug? Falling short there. Miss something at work? Yep, another shortcoming. Haven’t cleaned my house this week? Cooked a 5-star meal for my husband? All areas where I think I should be performing. Not in comparison to anyone else, but against the vision of myself I’ve created over the years. And I suppose that was based on the barrage of messages I’ve received from many, many sources, over the years. The challenge today is that it’s become engrained in my mind as who I should be.
As I sat and thought about that reality yesterday, I was not a fan. Not one little bit. My battle is an internal one, my mind playing out a storyline that’s not true. So how to stop it?
The same way I stopped the comparison to other people. Over the years, I’ve shifted my thinking to appreciate other people instead of being jealous or envious of them. I appreciate beauty in others. Would rather share their success than envy it. Celebrate their creativity and gain insight from them. Genuinely admire their individuality and know that their journey is theirs alone, not one I must mirror.
It’s the same thinking that leads to surrender in my own battle, and in yours. For me, shifting to appreciating myself, my circumstance, as unique unto me, for my own purpose, is the same as the shift that can happen in you.
It’s a challenge for me, it’s raw, but it’s also part of the authenticity journey I’ve chosen for this year. I know that many of you face comparison battles of your own. I get it. Today, could each of us choose to appreciate instead of compare? Be brave enough to turn the mirror to look at and appreciate ourselves for the unique people we are? And then celebrate each other? It’s a choice to love…ourselves and others. I hope you’ll make it with me.