The Struggles of Comparison
When I think back to the girl I was in high school, and even my first few semesters of college, I remember myself as being particularly perceptive. I studied my classmates’ straight, golden tresses that countered than my own untamable, brunette hair. I was also very concerned with the fact that I did not have close friendships like most other girls. I purposefully observed the witty and charming girls who developed friendships effortlessly, attempting to discover the hush-hush secrets of popularity.
Every day, I spent countless minutes, which amounted to many hours, comparing my appearance and even my personality to every other girl around me. In any given setting, I would see something ideal or remarkable in another girl that I didn’t see in myself.
The truth is, we are surrounded by incredible, ambitious, and charming women. But dwelling on others’ impressive qualities easily leads to feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and self-deprecation. In my own experience, these constant competitions have only proved to be a crippling, endless struggle.
Why do we judge other women so harshly? Chances are, the very girls we envy are enduring the same struggles and feeling the same pressures.
So often, we give ourselves a free pass to criticize all of our faults and weaknesses until our hearts bleed and tears soak our pillows. And yet, we treat our friends with so much love - how do you react when your best friend says she's fat? You probably tell her she's beautiful the way she is. Or when she frowns and comments that she's ugly, you're quick to reassure her that she is stunning.
We're so quick to compliment our girlfriends, and yet when we get back into the confinement of our minds, we are quick to put ourselves down, sometimes in comparison to those same friends! Why do we treat ourselves worse than we treat our friends? When did it become a competition? When did her doing well make you a failure?
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
How encouraging are these words for a life mantra? Imagine how peaceful our friendships, schools, or campuses would be if we embraced this mentality. We must grow into the women God has called us to be, independent of any other person. We must strive daily to flourish through personal actions and decisions.
If you find yourself participating in the communal tendency of comparison, try these suggestions to combat feelings of inadequacy:
First, I encourage you to purposefully identify your own positive features and skills. If you have a great smile, show it! If you are an artist, then paint your heart out. Pursuing the things you are skilled at builds confidence, which is a natural deterrent for feelings of rivalry. Tuck those positive attributes in the back of your mind for when you feel you’ve fallen short.
Second, we must exercise self-control. Practice catching yourself in the act of jealousy and then hold yourself accountable for those thoughts. Be graceful with your sisters in Christ, and especially with non-believers. Negative opinions that are derived from jealousy will achieve nothing pleasing to the Lord. These fruitless judgments and conclusions about others only promote rivalry and hostility. Take a step back to gain some perspective; the attributes and qualities of others do not relate to or hinder you in any way! Remember, just because she's pretty, doesn't mean you're not!
Lastly, we must stop being so critical of ourselves. Don't belittle your accomplishments or attributes, by stacking them against the feats and qualities of others. These destructive thoughts tend to develop into a pattern of poor self-esteem. God never intended for us to feel unworthy, inadequate, or inferior.
So, when you begin to dwell on your perceived flaws, think to yourself, “What does God say about this? Does He think I am foolish, unlovable, or inferior?”. Or, better yet, would you say tear down your best friend or little sister like you're doing to yourself?
I can assure you that this is not the Lord’s view of the children he purposefully and perfectly formed in His own image. In Isaiah 46:4, God tells us, “I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Allow God to enter and comfort you with His truth: you have immense value, inconceivable love and a million other positive characteristics that you might forget about when you begin to envy someone else's life.
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