3 Reasons Why Comparison is the Thief of Joy
We live in a world where we are repeatedly told how we need to look, what we need to say, or precisely how much wealth we need to achieve to be successful. Not only does society command this of us, but, unfortunately, society holds up women who accomplish these goals, praising them for their achievements.
And we, too, support this ideology when we compare ourselves to these women. As we begin to evaluate ourselves against other women, we may start to feel that we are not enough and to be enough, we must have, be, or obtain certain things in life to feel good or accomplished. Unfortunately, when we begin to believe that we are not enough, we lose our joy and reason for being because we are rejecting our true identity – the unique person God created us to be. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Did you stop to think that when we allow society to define us and what success is for each of us, we lose who we were created to be? Continually wishing we are more like someone else is not celebrating our uniqueness. And there will always be someone you’ll measure yourself against and feel less than by their standards. You are hence creating a perpetual state of emptiness in your life. That sounds pretty miserable to me – what about you? Ask yourself, are you living a life based on others’ standards, are you constantly comparing yourself to others? If so, you may want to take some steps to refocus and bring back the joy in your life.
In this post, we’re going to break down a few issues with comparison and take a look at the reasons comparison is a thief of joy, and by extension, how YOU can stop comparing yourself to others and take back YOUR joy.
1. The Measuring Stick
One of the problems with comparing ourselves to others is the measuring stick we use to measure ourselves. Why is this an issue? Because the measuring stick is based on the standards set by someone else and these standards are always changing. While you’re measuring yourself by someone’s specifications, the measuring stick is moving – it’s not static. It’s like bright shiny objects moving around and your eyes dart back and forth, trying to focus on the bright shiny objects, and you tell yourself, “ooh I gotta have that” or “I need this” to be worthy or to show that you’ve made it.
Take a moment and define what “worthy” or “made it” is for you. Who’s definition are you relying on to be “worthy” or to have “made it” because I can assure you, if you are basing your worth on what others have or do, “it” is going to change, and you’d better be ready to waste more of your time and resources on the next “it” to measure up. Do you see the never-ending cycle you are creating with comparison?
Take a moment and define your measuring stick. What are you using to measure your worth? Is it a mindset? Past experiences? Do you think that if you purchase that amazing home, you’ve made it? Or, if you land the corner office, you’re a somebody? And what if you lose that home or office? Who are you then? How are you defining your worth? Who is defining your worth?
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5 MSG
Remember, God loves you. You were created in His image to shine. He blessed you with beautiful talents and gifts to share with others. Perhaps the measuring stick you are using to measure your worth needs to be based on God’s Word and not the worlds.
I passionately believe God is waiting to bless each of us and help us to grow into the unique, special women He created us to be. If you genuinely want to take back your joy, let go of the world’s imposed measuring stick and turn your focus upon God.
2. Unhealthy Competition
If we take a look at the meaning of unhealthy competition, I believe we can agree that unhealthy competition creates resentment and conflict in our relationships. As one who believes sisters-in-Christ are called to encourage, equip, and empower one another, I do not believe we are called to compete and compare.
In my research, I discovered that women who compete with one another tend to base their identity on someone or something other than God. When we build our identity on the world and not God, we lose sight of what is important. If we are not careful, we will allow our yearnings to take over to the extent that our pride is inflated, and our ego is driving our need for more and more.
What’s the saying, pride comes before the fall? When we become prideful, we find satisfaction from our personal achievements, possessions, or accomplishments we acquire in our quest to be the best. Most likely, these are the possessions and achievements widely admired by the world’s standards. As you compete to gain more, how much of yourself are you losing? Are your motivations genuinely honorable? Do you remember how competition ruined the relationship between Sarah and Hagar in the Bible?
“We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.” 2 Corinthians 10:12 MSG
When we compete with one another, and our motivation is not noble, we are no longer living our life, but we are trying to keep up and live according to others. Keeping up with the Jones is a real thing. God did not create us to live in competition with one another. I am so thankful God doesn’t compare me with anyone else and say, “Robin, you need to step it up!” And God certainly doesn’t expect me to compete with my friends, neighbors, or strangers on social media to prove my worth. God knows my heart. He knows my intentions and motivations.
God wants us to be who He created YOU and me to be. God desires we live a life of joy and be the best version of who He created us to be. Don’t miss out on life. Stop the comparing, and grading, and competing. Once you let go of the competition, you’ll begin to enjoy your life and take pleasure in the blessings around you.
3. Envious Thoughts
Comparison often leads us to covet and envy others for what they have and what we don’t have. When we covet, we are wrongfully desiring what others have without a thought of the work or time they put into obtaining whatever it is we are coveting. One of the most common issues of comparison is that you see that someone else has something of value, and you either believe you deserve the same or you become envious that they have “it” and you don’t. And the issue with this line of thinking is that when we believe we deserve more than others, we become envious, and envy breeds resentment, dissatisfaction, and greed.
I believe envy is a form of entitlement stemming from the heart. When we do not feel satisfied with life, past experiences turn into disappointment, and hopelessness pervades our thoughts. These feelings can lead us to become envious when others receive what we believe we are owed. We may even perceive their good fortune as undeserving or unfair. As with comparison and competition, envy moves us further away from God.
When we feel entitled, we lose sight of God and His will for our life. Focusing on what others have distorts our views, and we tend to forget how truly blessed we are as a child of God. Whether it’s someone’s property, title, or spouse, we must remember that God has a plan for each of us. My calling is using my spiritual gifts and talents, while your calling is specific to your spiritual gifts and talents. So, don’t allow what others are receiving to distract you from your calling.
“Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God. That’s where your future lies. Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing.” Proverbs 23:17-18 MSG
Do you want to be left behind with an armload of nothing because you were so focused on what others were doing or accomplishing that you lost track of your purpose or journey? Or do you want to embrace the abundant future God has for you?
Take back your joy by celebrating the wins of those around you. Pray for those who receive God’s abundance, and when those feelings of envy begin to saturate your thoughts, do a heart check and lift up your prayers seeking God’s help and guidance. As we pray for others, God will truly bless us as we seek to live an intentional life.
Living a Life of Joy!
I desire to inspire women to sister one another in love as we each seek to live our lives in the fullness of Christ. When we live according to God’s will, we reap the benefits of a Christ-centered life filled with joy. When we are filled with joy, there’s no room for comparison, competition, and envy. Besides, comparing ourselves to others is emotionally and spiritually draining, and often makes us forget just how important we are to God.
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2:3-4 MSG
I pray you will take the time to reflect on the words of Philippians 2 and take heart – agree with one another, love one another, and serve one another. Don’t allow harmful or negative thoughts to take over your mind instilling comparison and stealing your joy.
Live your life feeling confident, connected, supported, and inspired–inspired to reflect on the light God’s placed inside you, and equipped to let it shine!
Keep on shining!