Comparison is a way that we have come to determine the quality of people and things, but do we actually need to compare one thing to another to truly appreciate it or measure its value? Take life for instance. Why are you happy to be alive? Is it simply because death is its alternative or do you find worth in life itself? What about your car? Is it valuable to you because it gets you from point A to point B or do you not find value in it because it isn’t the one you want?
I know. Lots of questions to start, but I’m just wondering how it serves us to make comparisons or if it’s even necessary.
When We Compare Ourselves
In a bible study I attended years ago, the pastor pointed out that social media had become a means to measure our progress in life. At the time, I wasn’t being affected in that way, but there was truth in what he was saying. As the years passed on and my Facebook friends began to reach the major life events of getting engaged and married, moving to a new city and emerging in their career field, and traveling the world, I began to feel the effects of the “social media ruler”. My life paled in comparison because I was struggling in so many ways. It looked like they were having a much better go at life than I was. But as I became determined to regulate my own happiness and mental stability, I’ve chosen to take a break from scrolling sometimes, to guard my heart, because discontentment can creep in at a moment’s notice.
What’s dangerous about comparison is its ability to rob us of our contentment. This is a society in which we will second guess our happiness based on what someone else has that seems better. We find ourselves questioning everything about our lives because it doesn’t look like someone else’s. It’s one thing to see what someone else is doing and be motivated by it, but if we aren’t careful, we will begin to chase things we never actually wanted while depreciating what is actually valuable in our lives. With comparison, we tend lose sight of our desires and covet lifestyles for status and external validation.
When Others Compare Us
I realize that comparison did not originate with social media and at times we aren’t the culprit. Some of us experience it within our families and social groups. We are identified as the only one who isn’t married yet, or our freelance career path is compared to our hot shot brother’s corporate job. But if you’re content, what people try to exalt as the standard will be identified as an option you didn’t choose or something you can’t control. Don’t let comparison kill you! Be sure of your plan and your progress. As long as you know where you’re headed in life, that confidence will be evident and speak for you. If you find yourself discontent, hopefully you are working to seek out those things you desire or you have a support system that can help you navigate that part of your life.
When We Compare Experiences
Another form of comparison is the minimalization of an experience. In life, some of my painful experiences were brushed off because the listener didn’t think they were that bad. I was told that the situation wasn’t worth crying over because it could be worse. Once someone did it to me, I began doing it to myself. So when something came up, I played it down, no matter how much it hurt me. This can be detrimental for several reasons. When we’re forced to compare our situation to a seemingly worse situation, it diminishes our experience and can create a sense of self doubt and insecurity. Suppressing the issue holds up the healing process. While discussing this topic, my co worker said that we can’t compare our hardships because someone is always going to have it worse than you. It isn’t selfish or self absorbed to acknowledge your pain and experience.
Ponder what role comparison has played in your life. Is it having a positive or negative effect? I challenge you to find value in the things in your life without comparing it to the best or worse of something similar. Also, take time to identify your desires and goals without considering social standards.
I’d love for you to share your experiences of comparison or how you have learned to take your life and circumstances for what they are.