Yesterday was a down in the dumps kind of day.
I was tired. Our summer has been full of non-stop activities, busyness, and stress.
I felt overwhelmed. My last few days were engulfed by piles of laundry, chores, work, errands, packing lunches, and scraping together dinners.
I also promised myself that I would accomplish my personal goals for the week. But an upcoming road trip + daily responsibilities left me with a bad case of the blues.
So naturally, I did what any of us would do. I mindlessly thumbed through Facebook.
And then I saw her life. You know the one.
The one with endless pictures of perfect children. The marriage-of-bliss anniversary photos. Full of witty posts and comments. And the “watch me change my first diaper” video that got a bazillion likes. Seriously? I imagine her at her (perfectly organized) desk gleefully cranking out posts about her new leggings and baking Whole30 brownies in the oven while her kids play quietly in the background.
Somewhere between her angelic children and Betty Crocker Brownies, I got moody.
I got downright depressed.
In one swooping moment, my thoughts went down the drain, sucking my emotions in with it.
In that moment, I psychoanalyzed my own life and gave myself an F for failure. Suddenly, all my efforts felt in vain. No longer was I good enough, creative enough, fast enough, witty enough, romantic enough, healthy enough or perfect enough.
When someone’s success makes us depressed, there’s a problem.
Instead of being inspired by her success, I felt inferior. Sad. Discouraged. Overwhelmed. Behind.
Like, maybe I should just cut my losses early and throw in the towel on life. After all, who can keep up with the ever-perfect family with their social media omnipresence and picture-perfect lives?
Truth be told, I had a bad case of the comparison blues.
And if you are breathing, chances are you’ve had them too.
hours a whole day prying myself from the deadly grip of the comparison trap.
Because if I’m not careful, comparison will destroy me.
And it’ll destroy you too.
A heart at peace gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30
At the root of comparison there is discontentment and envy. When we compare our flawed lives to the Facebook highlight reel, we’re destined to come up short.
When we’re not satisfied with our own yard, we’re tempted to peek over the fence at our virtual neighbors. And what we see will either puff us up with pride or weigh us down with insecurity.
Contentment is a sure-fire way to guard yourself against falling into the comparison trap. When we are satisfied with our own path, purpose, and progress, we experience joy and peace as a result.
So how do we avoid the comparison blues? Here are 3 ways to stay content and avoid the comparison trap.
1. Focus on your own goals (because comparison will distract you).
A horse wears blinders for a reason. It gives him the opportunity to focus on where he is going while tuning out everything else around him.
Stay focused on your own stuff. Never mind that she spent the summer in the Bahamas or that their house is bigger. Don’t allow the success of others to distract you from your own success and purpose. God has a specific plan in mind for your life so stay focused on the path He has carved out for you.
2. Set your own pace (because comparison will slow you down).
When you’re running a race, you focus on what’s right in front of you. Looking around at all the other runners while you are running is going to slow you down and probably trip you up.
Set your own pace. Trying to run the same speed as everyone else in life will eventually burn you out.
Just because she is pregnant doesn’t mean you should have a baby now too. Your family life is…well…yours. There’s no such thing as being “left behind” when you are running a one-person race. Don’t allow comparison to consume you by trying to keep up with others.
The goal is to run with endurance. Pacing yourself is what will get you to the finish line.
3. Embrace your own story (because comparison will sabotage it).
God has equipped each of us with a specific set of talents, gifts, quirks, and experiences. Each of us has a unique story to tell and a purpose to fulfill.
But when we compare, we essentially tell ourselves that we must be the same as everyone else. In doing so, we undermine our unique story and devalue the work God is doing in our own lives.
Just because she has a full-time career doesn’t mean you should too. God may call you to work full time as a mom at home and call her to work full time at the office. Your story is not her story and vise versa.
The point? God has something different planned for each one of us. Instead of fitting the mold or feeling inferior, embrace the story God is writing for you. You can trust that at the right time, He will prepare you and use you to impact the lives of others in a way that only you can do.
Want the ultimate cure for comparison? DO THIS…
When we fall into the comparison trap, our entire view of others becomes tainted. We make frenemies. We develop this love-hate relationship where we admire and envy others at the same time.
Serving others is the ultimate guard against envying them. It’s hard to be jealous of someone you are serving or someone you helped become successful.
When we stop comparing, it frees us to love those around us. I have discovered that the greatest joy is found in partnering with other like-minded people! It’s easier to be happy over a friend’s marriage that you helped pour into. Together we can grow stronger and reach farther.
If you want to cure those comparison blues, then stay focused. Set your own pace. Embrace the story God is writing for you. And most importantly, see others as friends you can serve and help springboard to success. Choose to partner with those around you instead of competing against them!
Cure the comparison blues by learning to be content with what you have and where you are at right now. When we are content with our own path, purpose, and progress, we can enjoy the present and embrace the future.