How to Avoid the Comparison Trap
The Measuring Stick Principle.
Ann Voskamp has us recall those measuring sticks Mom used with sewing. Do you remember as a kid using these harmless sticks as swords (or light sabers) as you battled for victory? They basically had become a weapon.
This is still true when we become adults, but manifests itself as the measuring stick of comparison - to determine worth, to measure our life against another. It becomes a weapon against our soul and others.
One of the beautiful things about competition is how it can bring out the best in us and help us as athletes to raise to another level that we may have been unaware of.
But when we, as athletes, start to turn inward and compare our skills to teammates, to opponents, the focus can cause us to spiral in our mental game as well as how we perform physically in competition. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” True statement. And it can eat us alive if we’re not careful.
Where your focus goes, your energy flows. The weapon of measuring ourselves continually against the lives of others can bring destruction to our soul as well as to those we are comparing ourselves against. Insecurity often breeds this…when we feel insecure in our position, we tend to look elsewhere to either puff ourselves (“I’m better than they are”) up or beat ourselves down (“I suck and will never measure up”)
“What happens when you compare yourself to others? Usually it’s one of two things: either you perceive the other person to be far ahead of you and you feel discouraged, or you perceive yourself to be better than the other person, and you become proud. Neither of those is good for you, and neither will help you grow. Comparing yourself to others is really just a needless distraction. The only one you should compare yourself to is you. Your mission is to become better today than you were yesterday.
You do that by focusing on what you can do today to improve and grow. Do that enough, and if you look back and compare the you of weeks, months, or years ago to the you of today, you should be greatly encouraged by your progress.” –John Maxwell
On the flip side, comparison can benefit us if we have the proper perspective. Whether you’re just starting out or are at a high level in your sport or in your profession, there will always be people ahead of you doing far more and doing better than where you are currently positioned.
Being that small fish in a big pond is a wonderful place to be because that is where you learn and grow. It forces you to get out of your comfort zone if you want to continue to grow and improve. When you appreciate those ahead of you who are willing to share ideas and help you in your journey, it’s a catalyst for growth that keeps you humble because there’s always room for improvement.
“Let’s not be people who compare each other. Let’s be people who champion each other.” – Ann Voskamp
Ways to help you avoid the comparison trap:
What can you do today to grow and improve in one area you find yourself comparing yourself to others? List it here & create a plan to implement it this week. Focus on comparing yourself to you. Be better today than you were yesterday.
Being grateful for what we have instead of focusing on what we lack has profound effects on our perspective. Take five minutes now to list five things/people you are grateful for. For the people you list, send a text or call them to let them know what you appreciate about them.
Start your day right
This sets the tone for your day. Begin by reading your Bible, reading a personal development book, be in prayer, being grateful/write in gratitude journal. Avoid social media, email, and news right out of the gate. Be the one who sets the tone of your day…not someone else.
Celebrate what you have in common and appreciate what differentiates you from others. Together we are stronger than we are apart.
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” –Stephen Covey
Spend less time on social media
This isn’t the only place where comparison lives, but it can be a breeding ground. We see others’ highlight reel & think that’s reality. We compare our insides with others’ outsides. Be aware of how it is impacting you. There are better ways to spend your energy.