You’ve all heard the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat!” But I think that little ditty is due for a revision. Comparison is the real killer, wouldn’t you agree?
Man, it’s so funny how God works. I just taught on this topic at the Impact Women’s Conference in Nevada just last month, and yet it’s still been coming to front of mind again and again these past few weeks so apparently God has more to say about it through me. Just today I’ve had to coach two people through getting caught in the dangerous web that comparison weaves. So let’s dig in and see what we’ve got here…
First of all, let me just disclaimer you here for a second… I am not immune to comparison. I’m going to dive into some areas where I struggle with this very thing, but I do know that a lot of you might think that I’ve got it all together. Why do I think you might think that? Because that’s what I WANT you to think! That’s what I’m putting out there in the world, right? My social media, what I wear, how I present myself, what I write in this very blog… heck, I’ll even leave the house with no make up on, except for a few dabs of concealer over those blemishes because heaven forbid someone suspect I’m not perfect.
I get it. I do it.
But why? For me, it comes from a deep seeded desire to be liked. I want y’all to like me! I want to make you laugh and think and smile, and I want you to think that I do all this effortlessly. I don’t want you to realize that I’m really just a hot mess who just finally took a shower at 3:30pm and is sitting in my shamefully messy office writing this. Because if you knew that… it would change the way you see me, surely.
Well let me just disrupt that whole school of thought for you and hop right on over to every single thing that Brene Brown has ever written and let you in on a little secret… your ‘hot mess-ness’ is actually your super power. The parts of you that aren’t all the way together are actually the parts of you that are most attractive. Being vulnerable is your most influential weapon to wield!
Hooray! You don’t have to worry about being ‘less than’ because you’re not dialed in! Isn’t this fantastic news??? The more you show your true imperfect self to the world, the more people are going to like what you’ve got going on!
Let me give you an example… the blog posts where I’m able to show you my short comings and the areas of me where I know for sure someone else is doing it better, are the blogs I know have the biggest impact. I know this because you share them. You like them. You tell me so. So if that’s the case, and if somewhere deep down inside surely we know that God doesn’t create junk and He has made us each uniquely specific, why do we feel like we’re not doing it right? Why do we feel the need to present something just a little different than what is real? And why do we feel like because someone else can do it better, we shouldn’t even try?
I don’t know about you but the more I try to be a little bit more put together, and a little bit more like the other girl, and a little bit more like the person I THINK I’m supposed to be, the more I feel like the person that I actually am is just not enough.
If you’re willing to be brave with me, let’s dive into this and speculate together, shall we?
Readers, my best guess as to why we are all feeling a little bit ‘less than’ is because we’re looking at the wrong things for our value. We’re comparing ourselves to others who we think are doing it better!! And until we can get ahold of this, we will never measure up. Here’s the deal: if you had your head in the sand and if you couldn’t look up to see what everyone else was doing, you wouldn’t have the first clue whether or not you were good, bad or average. You would just be what you are. And it would be enough. Right?
So here is MY most raw and vulnerable personal example of comparison: My body. This is my biggest stumbling block by far and something tells me that I’m not the only one. Unfortunately this might be the biggest thing that unites us as women- our desire to feel and look good in our own skin- and men who are reading this, I know you’re ready to stop falling into the ‘does this make me look fat’ trap (Because it’s totally a trap). So now that we’re all on the same page here…
Let me be clear: There is a big and important difference between comparison and competing. At least there is for me. I have a dear friend who I have become quietly competitive with. I don’t think either of us have actually vocalized this competition, because it’s completely healthy and positive, but it’s there for sure. God has pitted us as life pace setters for one another and I will happily chase her down in all things. We have been in our respective businesses as sidelines for nearly the same amount of years and have achieved each of our promotions within months of one another. We even had our third babies on the same exact day. She was late and I was early, but when my water broke early that November morning, I sent her a message letting her know that the clock was ticking and she had better get that baby out!
I remember sitting with this same dear friend in Maui five weeks postpartum. We were in swimsuits, so you know we were having a (sarcastic) BLAST! The husbands were out on a boat and we were land locked with babies. That night we made a private promise to one another that we were going to get into the best shape of our lives. There was no more of a definition given then that, but we were both ready to chase that down together. Now, I was serious when I committed to that goal, but this friend of mine was SERIOUS serious.
My son is about to be three years old, so for the last almost three years I’ve fought the urge to compare myself to this friend of mine and her journey. Doesn’t social media sometimes make you hate your friends? Sometimes it even makes me hate myself. You see, as my friend has slimmed down and firmed up (we don’t live near each other, so all I’ve got are her posts), I’ve been forced to confront this stumbling block of mine again and again. When I see a picture of her working out, or a proclamation of her new emerging ab muscles, one of two things is going to happen in my brain…
- I’m going to pull apart her pictures and blame her abs on an IG filter!
- I’m going to get on the floor and do some sit ups.
Y’all, it’s a choice. And although it might seem like it’s out of our control, we are 100% in control of the thoughts we allow ourselves to think. Comparison makes me feel like what I’m doing is not enough and it actually prevents me from taking any kind of action- what’s the point? Whereas when I’m able to take ahold of that impulse to react on a visceral level, I can switch it into competition, which will give me accountability and set a new bar for me to reach towards. Now, which of these schools of thoughts do you suppose serve me, and which one does not?
Now, competition in access can be bad, and I’m going to have to leave that topic for another blog, but comparison, even in small amounts, will ALWAYS be detrimental. There is not one positive thing that can come out of us ‘not enoughing’ ourselves.
Readers, this is the perspective shift that I need you to grab ahold of here and the reason why I’m trying to warn you about the dangers of the comparison slippery slope… most of us are probably feeling like we’re not enough, right? It’s not just me. But for every gal that I’m comparing myself to, there is probably someone else comparing themselves to me. And if I’m not enough, then how will she ever be enough? Because it’s so hard to tell which one of us is the measuring stick, right? Which one of us is the RIGHT one that we should all be comparing ourselves to so that each of us feels like enough? Y’all this is EXHAUSTING! Am I right???
If WE are the ones setting the length of this dang measuring stick, how can any of us ever measure up? If the measuring stick is always changing- compared to this person I feel pretty good about myself but compared to this person, my entire self image changes- then I’ll never be able to stop measuring. I’ll never be able to just… be…
Readers, I’m afraid we’re missing it. We’re MISSING our whole lives when we’re doing this crazy comparison thing. We’re missing all the special uniqueness that is MEANT for exactly us to walk in. Because comparison is a huge distraction! It stops us in our tracks. It steals our bravery. It steals our talents. It’s a tool that the enemy uses to make us believe that our value isn’t ANCHORED and UNSHAKABLE. Readers, to God we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, and I know you’ve heard that before but hear it again right now, because that means that our value isn’t changing. It isn’t measurable. It has been MEASURED. It has been deemed enough.
You. Are. Enough.
But if this is true, and it IS true, then why do we get caught up? And how can we stop?
I’m not perfect at this, but I do have a work around and I want to share it with you. First and foremost, you’ve got to figure out what is most important to you. Although I’d love to have abs and yes, I do get jealous of the people who have done the work to have them, I’m just not the girl who is going to do what it takes to have abs! I mean, let’s be real. The problem is that I don’t actually want my girlfriends life… I just want the results of her life. And y’all, that’s not fair. It’s hard for me to come to terms with that because she is the person who is going to hit the gym every single day, and I’m the person who likes cheese a lot. But that’s the reality!
I see a lot of people do this comparison game with their businesses and their professional life. It’s easy to look at someone else’s results and say ‘why isn’t this happening for me??’ The answer is obvious and yet hard to admit…
They’re doing more than you are. They’er willing to sacrifice more.
But their ‘more’ doesn’t have to equal your ‘less.’
Stop comparing other peoples strengths to your weaknesses. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not good at everything! But I am good at the things that matter most to me. And when I can CHOOSE confidence and CHOOSE to champion these other people in my life… I manage to avoid the traps.
Did you know that confidence is a choice? My friend Tori Hein taught me this, and I’ll hang onto it as long as I live- and am eager to teach my kids this truth- it’s NOT a personality trait. Some of us are uber confident in one area of our life, but not in another… this informs us that confidence is not a part of WHO we ARE, but rather how we feel about what we DO well. It’s a choice. And did you also know that you can trick yourself right out of comparison if you can manage to choose confidence in it’s place? Give it a try! The next time you’re in your swimsuit… every single time you feel the urge to get down on yourself for not looking like that other girl, choose to be confident in exactly who you are. Choose it.
And if that doesn’t work, I’ve got a real silver bullet for you. This may not stop the comparison compulsion entirely, but it will take away it’s sting every single time… champion that person that you’re comparing yourself too. Don’t fake it, really celebrate them. Instead of pulling them apart, or worse pulling yourself apart, celebrate that person for everything THEY are without that taking away even a little bit of who YOU are.
What’s more, if you’re not sure of exactly who you are and what you’re about, that’s precisely where you need to start. This might be weird to say, but I want you to begin with the end in mind. What will the people who you love today say about you at your funeral? You guys, if they’re talking about my abs or my lack there of at my funeral, I’ve done my life wrong!! Not because it’s not okay to be about abs, but because that’s just so completely NOT what I’m about!
Key question: How many of the limited amount of minutes that you’ve been blessed with in this lifetime do you want to spend comparing yourself to the things that you’re just not about? Please let this free you from the trap of getting caught up in the distraction of comparison. We get so hyper focused on what we’re just not about that we don’t ever get the chance to really shine in our very special ‘about-ness.’ Are you with me?
So what are you about? I’m about 5 things:
Authenticity (this last one kills the OCD in me)
These are not the things that I’m trying to be, these are the things that I already am. My strengths. My values. My ‘aboutness.’
Faith- I’m not gonna lie, I’m about God. It’s okay if you’re not. It’s okay if you are, but in a different way than I am.
Family- This one is tricky because it’s not so much who I am to my family, but what I want my family to receive from me that I’m about. See how I avoid being ‘less than’ in that? Keep your value anchored.
Funny- Making people laugh is my love language, it’s is how I shine light in the dark places. I’m sure you have a way to shine light in dark places, even if you’re not particularly funny.
Freedom- I’m about no limitations on living and dreaming, and having the freedom to live your life in big giant ways. This informs so many of my decisions and choices.
Authenticity- Some of the greatest feedback I get from others is that I’m ‘real’ and I love this. That’s the best thing you’ll ever call me. I want to ALWAYS be about being authentic.
So who are you? Not who do you want to be! But who are you already? What are your values? What are the things that you’re about? I think you’ll find that these are the areas where you really are enough. These are the things God’s designed you to shine in. The rest of it is for the birds, because the rest of it isn’t about YOU! Lucky us!! We don’t have to be amazing at all the things… we’ve just got to be amazingly, perfectly us. And when you stop to look… I’m willing to bet you’re already doing that pretty dang well.
No need to get out the ever changing measuring stick for this one…
So, the moral of the story is… YOU HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE! None of this is going to happen by accident. We’re going to default if we don’t choose otherwise. We’re going to compare if we’re not able to champion. So the next time you feel that deep rooted desire to compare yourself, even when it feels like an impulse that is out of your control, I challenge you to pause, and CHOOSE confidence in what you ARE, as opposed to feel ‘less than’ for what you’re not. CHOOSE to champion that person, instead of tear them OR yourself down. CHOOSE to be a force of positivity in your own life and in the life of others- starting with impacting that hot guy or gal in the mirror.
Readers, in this world, if you don’t choose who you are going to be, the world is going to choose for you. You’re identity will be assigned to you. If we’re not careful, we’re going to compare ourselves right into a chronic reality of short coming that was never ours to own.
A dear friend sent me this quote and I feel like it absolutely sums up this whole blog: “Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone; it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone at all.”
Yes, there are a lot of things that I am NOT. There are several things that I will never be as good at as someone else. I don’t have abs and I may never sacrifice enough to have them. But the good news is, there are a lot of things that I already am! As for the rest of it?
Well, that just ain’t me!