She is prettier than I am.
She got the man of her dreams when I couldn’t get a date.
She is loved by everyone.
She landed her dream job when I couldn’t land a job.
She looked perfect pregnant.
She lost the baby weight in a month.
She got an opportunity I’d been hoping for.
She is a better mom.
She is so successful.
This “she” isn’t one person, in particular — it’s all the girls and women I’ve ever compared myself to in my life. (And believe me, there have been a lot of them.) It’s the friend, sister, peer, relative, acquaintance, and random stranger against whom I’ve compared my body, my success, my kids, my accomplishments, and my life. It’s the “she” that makes me feel less than and left behind … without doing anything wrong herself.
Almost as soon as I started blogging, I intended to write a post about comparison, since comparison is the thief of joy. But I believed I couldn’t until I overcame the struggle myself.
After recently reading a fantastic book on the subject, however, I’ve decided instead to share where I am in my imperfect progress. I hope my honesty and transparency will offer encouragement to you. I hope that, although I cannot teach you “How I beat the comparison trap once and for all,” you will allow me to invite you to fight this thief together.
**Links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you click that link and purchase the product, I may receive a small compensation. I am, however, committed to honestly assessing the products mentioned. Please read my disclosure policy for more details. **
MY STRUGGLE WITH THE COMPARISON TRAP
I have compared myself to other people for as long as I can remember. A perfectionist and approval addict, I was always striving to measure up.
In school, in music, in youth group, at home. With teachers, with my parents, with friends, with boys (oh, the boys).
And when I didn’t measure up? When I wasn’t the best, the favorite, the prettiest and skinniest (I was never those), or the most impressive? Well … I didn’t always handle it very well.
I would like to say that it was just an adolescent phase. As a grown woman, surely I know better than to measure my worth by how I compare with other women? Right?
There are a million ways I can compare myself to others in adulthood: what job did I get (or not get) after college, what kind of house do I live in, what clothes do I wear, how much weight did I gain during pregnancy, how quickly did I lose that weight, what does my body look like now, what are my kids like, what goals have I achieved, what opportunities have I been given, what am I doing with my life? The list could go on and on.
But the comparison game is one that no one wins. And I’m tired of being a loser. I hate the way that comparison and jealousy make me feel, and I hate what it does to my relationships.
I want to be the kind of woman who is confident and content with my own life, regardless of what anyone else is doing. I want to be the kind of woman who genuinely celebrates the success of others and helps them achieve it. And I want to be the kind of woman who is free to be whatever God has made me to be because I’m not trying to measure up to anyone else.
I’ll be straight-up honest that I’m not there yet. My first instinct is often still to compare and wallow a bit in discouragement and jealousy. But I’ve made tremendous strides in the last couple years, and this is how I’m doing it:
3 WAYS I’M BREAKING FREE FROM THE COMPARISON TRAP
- I force myself to respond according to how I want to feel, not how I actually feel.This has been the #1 way I’ve been beating the comparison game. Every time I feel the jealousy rise up in me, I go out of my way to compliment, congratulate, and encourage the object of my envy. I may not feel like doing it at first, but the most incredible thing happens as I do — the jealousy actually melts away. The more I act in direct opposition to those nasty feelings, the less power they have over me.
- I surround myself with women who don’t play the game.Secondly, I distance myself from relationships in which everything feels like a competition, and I surround myself with people who exhibit the kind of character I want to grow in. I have some really wonderful people in my life who are honestly thrilled when others around them succeed, and they have helped me grow. Having those examples of women who are comfortable and confident in who they are inspires me to be that person myself.
- I read edifying books on the subject.When does a list of mine about growing in any area not include reading?? So, of course, I had to include a recommendation for a fantastic book on the subject of comparison.That book is Why Her? by Nicki Koziarz, and it was just as incredible as I had hoped it would be. If you’ve ever struggled with comparison, then read on, sister, because this book is for you!
WHY HER? SUMMARY
Through personal stories of struggle (and triumph) as well as a parallel study of two striving sisters in the Bible, Nicki confronts the age-old question, “Why her?”
She shares six truths that will help you:
- “Stop staring at her success and find satisfaction in yours
- Find contentment with your life without being complacent in who you are becoming
- Gain godly wisdom to answer the Why Her? silent question of your soul.”
These six truths will change the way you see yourself, the way you view others, and the way you measure success. It will teach you how to reframe the opportunities that do or do not come your way and free you from having to measure up to anybody. It will settle the nagging question of Why Her?
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT WHY HER?
This book was incredible, and just the book I needed. I’ve asked a lot of “why her” questions in my life (as I’m sure we all have), and these six truths spoke to the core of the insecurities, doubts, and fears behind the question. Unlike some books that over-promise and under-deliver, this book did exactly as promised on the back cover.
One chapter, in particular, was by itself reason enough to read the book. Truth 4 was called “You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong,” and it was mind-blowing. In this chapter, Nicki shared a time when, after getting passed over for a golden opportunity, she felt rejected, discouraged, and deemed “not fit.” However, after giving herself some time to grieve and reflect, she wrote these words to herself: “The opportunity isn’t yours, but — Nicki, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
I mean, can we just stop here? That line — that’s worth the price of admission right there. The opportunity wasn’t yours, but you didn’t do anything wrong. That is going to be my new motto when I’m tempted to compare, and it’s going to free me from a LOT of future angst.
There’s so much more I could say about this book, but I don’t want to ruin it all for you. This is a book I would highly recommend, so if you are able, go get the book right now. (Maybe get an extra for a friend.) And if you’re not, request it from the library. Because this is a book you’re going to want to read.
** I received a copy of Why Her? from the publisher for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. **
Comparison is a game I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, and it always leaves me feeling on the losing side. But by forcing myself to react the way I want to feel rather than how I feel at the moment, surrounding myself with women who rise above the game, and reading fantastic books like Why Her?, I am finally feeling like a winner against this ugly stronghold.
What about you? Do you struggle/have you struggled with the comparison trap? How do you overcome those feelings of jealousy or inadequacy? Share in the comments below!
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