Comparison is a constant struggle for so many people, including myself. It is so easy to view other’s lives, bodies, talents, friends, or countless other things as superior (or sometimes inferior) to your own. We feed our insecurities by constantly looking to other people to see if they’re better than we are; we justify this internal depreciation of ourselves by convincing ourselves that we should be better, that we should be more like someone else.
Lately I have found that comparison has been so much closer to me in every aspect of my life than I ever realized. My walk with Jesus has changed a lot through these past 3-4 weeks, and with that so has my mindset. He has revealed things to me about life and about myself that I had never noticed, understood, or thought about. Nothing profound has been revealed to me, nothing super “spiritual” has happened. But this month I have found myself learning to walk with the Holy Spirit in a much more consistent, relational way. As I have walked with Him, He has begun to show me His heart through the process.
Jesus has begun to show me the cycle of comparison within which I have been circling for so long. As He has revealed this I have begun to learn valuable lessons. I have started learning what it means to live with my eyes on Jesus instead of those around me, and I have started understanding the value of resting at His feet instead of rushing around trying to be enough.
Although there’s no quick-fix to comparison, progress can come if you consciously put forth effort and begin to make yourself aware of your thoughts. However, it’s important to realize that no single person can change your thoughts, only Jesus can. The hard part is that often he doesn’t heal your mind in a moment, but instead through the process of your intentional awareness.
I’ve decided to share with you all three of the most vital steps I have found on my journey to healing my comparison mindset.
Understanding what makes you who you are as a person and realizing where your identity lies is the first small step to breaking out of the mindset of comparison. Throughout the past year I struggled quite a bit with identity as I transitioned from my high-school self to my college self, and I grappled with all the change that came in this part of my life.
Leaving my homeschool bubble, becoming more independent, changing my major, and majorly shifting my priorities left me feeling like I lost myself in the process. Throughout this time I was forced to reevaluate my identity. I realized that I had heavily relied on my family and my passions to define who I was as an individual. When I went to school my life and my priorities drastically changed, and I slowly realized how fragile my self-made identity was.
I don’t believe much in the cliché of “finding yourself”, because you can never be completely understood. However, I am a firm believer in learning who you are and why, and constantly being aware of who or what your identity lies in. The more you know yourself (and the more who you are isn’t founded in what you look like or what you’re capable of) the less comparison can attack your mind.
It’s easy to say that we love ourselves while at the same time refusing to accept ourselves and our own humanness. We are all too quick to accept other people’s flaws, and sometimes even glorify them, and yet we are constantly searching to better ourselves to the point of constant dissatisfaction.
As so many of you, I have found myself hating so many aspects of who I am and what I do. I have analyzed and criticized myself to the point of self-loathing, and have found ways to justify my negative thought patterns. Self-hatred is a slippery road of deception, because so often your goal can seem pure and healthy, while your motives are anything but.
Loving yourself begins on a small scale. You have to begin to remind yourself that you’re just as human as any other person, and you have to be aware of negative thought spirals that can lead to self-hatred. Being aware of the things you speak to yourself is exceedingly difficult, but necessary. An easy way to start reversing negative self-talk is to be conscious of it. When you find yourself speaking harsh or critical words, check yourself and remind yourself to speak from a place of self-love.
As I began to better understand myself, and as I slowly learned to love who I was, I found that Jesus was more tangible, and that I was much more open to hear the Holy Spirit. Laying down my insecurity allowed me to receive grace more openly.
The more you begin to focus on growing and loving Jesus the less you’re tempted to spend time and energy feeling guilty about yourself. The more you intentionally invest in other people the easier it is to let go of being blinded by your shortcomings.
My solution to the struggle of comparison is not focusing on comparing yourself less, but focusing on loving others more. This may seem counter-intuitive, but loving other people will help you to stop elevating their perfection. When you love people you see their messiness. Being aware of other people’s shortcomings allows you to see them as humans. The more you see other people as people the less you’ll feel like they’re always one step ahead of you.
The process of unlearning comparison is difficult. But when you let go you find how to love yourself and your insufficiencies. Your inadequacy may be anything but beautiful, but Christ’s grace manifests fully in our weakest places.
As much as I believe in radical, life-changing moments with Christ, I hold tightly to the belief that almost all change occurs in the day-by-day process of life. Through each day I have begun to renew my mind in order to shift the way I think. Comparison can’t be conquered within our own strength, but through focusing on Christ we can slowly relearn how we think. We can receive the mind of Christ.
Grow yourself in Christ, and He will change your focus.