Comparisonitis – The Compulsion to Compare Yourself

Comparisonitis kills joy. Comparing yourself to others robs you. Instead, explore who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.

I’m just recovering from a severe case of comparisonitis.

I think I caught the most recent dose from the Internet, but this disease has been buried deep in my soul for a very long time.

I was on a downer, and it felt like everything I did my inner critic shouted back ‘loser.’

Comparisonitis – The compulsion to compare one’s accomplishments to another’s to determine relative importance. Wiktionary

There is something in me, and you, that compels us to examine. I’m sure you will know your weakness but here are a few to consider.

  • Body image
  • Clothes
  • Car you drive
  • House
  • Income
  • Kids performance

You name it, and it can be compared to something else.

Diet of comparisons 

Daily we are fed a diet of options for which we can compare ourselves to.

The billboard on the side of the road, the T.V. ad, the radio.

Then comes social media with all your friends having a great time and you’re not.

We are advertised to the deepest subconscious needs we have.

Security, significance, respect, love. Feelings are the focus of savvy marketing.

It all started with a marketing lie that God might be holding out on something.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

We can still feel that God in some way is holding out on something.

An older brother has an attack of comparisonitis with a younger brother and complains to God about it. The Parable of the comparing brother

Who you are

A letter was written to a group of Christians in an area called Galatia. The writer, Paul, says this.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.

Don’t be impressed with yourself.

Don’t compare yourself with others.

Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Galatians 6:4-5 The Message (MSG)

You accept responsibility for yourself.

Paul counsels the reader to take a careful exploration of the self. Who you are and what you have been called to do.

This amplifies the uniqueness of you.

The world, the flesh, and the devil will offer us messages of comparisons all day long, while God offers us presence and significance in our own created uniqueness.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139: 13, 14

A careful exploration

Paul counsels us to take a careful exploration.

So what are we to explore carefully?

Paul is asking us to move through our soul looking for the deep motivations we have for doing what we do.

Are there whispers of comparison?

  • She is thinner than me, and she looks happier than me.
  • Well at least I am not as fat as her

The problem with comparisons is that we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t have all the information to make a 100% perfect judgment call. Only God does.

You – ‘He has a good looking car; he is so much better than me.’
God – ‘He has a huge loan to pay for that car, and the debt is destroying his relationship with his wife. Don’t compare!’

Compare a personal millimeter

comparisonitis-the-compulsion-to-compare-yourself-to-run-your-own-race
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I know someone who runs marathons.

After his last race, I asked him how he got on and he was really excited because he had run a personal best. He had shaved off 30 seconds.

He didn’t win the race, against others, but he won a race within himself. I think personal bests are more exciting than world records, but who’s counting.

Take responsibility for what you can control (yourself) and leave comparisons behind.

Body weight loss/ gain

Some want to lose weight while others need to add weight.

Comparison drives the weight loss industry. Just think before and after photos. The selfies (pictures and videos) of the trim and slim keep depression and anxiety fueled up.

Perhaps a better motivation would be your own personal healthcare. You are taking care of the body for the sake of the body and not comparisonitis.

‘Looking good’ replaced with ‘Feeling good about my health.’

A millimeter, personal best, for weight loss/ health gain might be walking 30 minutes each day and doing a careful exploration around what you eat and why. Are you comfort eating?

Summing Up

The disease of comparisonitis will kill your joy. Comparing yourself to others is a distraction to what God is saying about you. Loved and delighted in. Explore who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.

Quotes to consider

  • One will never have joy if you are only looking at what you are meant to be able to do. Dan Allender 
  • Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. Dr. Seuss
  • We rob ourselves of immeasurable joy when we compare what we do know about ourselves with what we don’t know about someone else. Rob Bell
  • When you compare yourself with others, you have no idea what challenges they are facing. Rob Bell
  • Comparison is the thief of joy Theodore Roosevelt
  • If we compare who we are meant to be in the maturity of Christ compared to who we are today we are left with this staggering monumental almost infinite amount of growth that needs to occur.
    Comparisons are cruel. They critique. They leave you empty and or envious or both and therefore it ruins.  All comparison is deadly. Dr. Dan Allender
  • If people give you your sense of self-worth, then people can also take it away. This is the ‘pleaser’s’ personal paranoia. David Riddell
  • His 100% pass is ours to rest on / accept / appropriate. In other words, there are no more ‘brownie points’ left for you to earn, ‘cos Jesus has got the lot, on your behalf. Is this real for you yet, or are you still focused on others opinions of you, or yourself and your own performance? Remember Paul’s words; “Indeed I do not even judge myself, but leave all that to Him…” (1 Cor. 4:3). Result; a joyful end to unhealthy introspection, idealism, perfectionism, guilty condemnation, spiritual ‘drivenness’ and inadequacy – fear of failure. David J Riddell

Questions to answer

  1. How much does comparisonitis subtly drive depression and anxiety in our world today?
  2. What is your private battle with comparisonitis look like for you?
  3. ‘One will never have joy if you are only looking at what you are meant to be able to do. Dan Allender’  Who or what is telling you what you’re meant to be able to do?

Further reading

Why Male Depression feels like being Impotent and Weightless

‘The Greatest Showman’ goes to Church

The 100% Perfect Gift for an Approval Junkie

Barry Pearman

Image cc: Photo by Andre Mouton on Unsplash