I’m tired of playing the comparison game. How about you? Time and time again, I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others and felt disgruntled and discouraged about my life. So then, why do I constantly compare myself?
In this article, I discuss why comparing ourselves to others is bad and how it affects us. Lastly, I’ll share how to stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, let’s be joyful and thankful for the uniqueness that God has given each of His children.
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What is Obsessive Comparison Disorder?
Obsessive Comparison Disorder is a plague of our culture today. It’s the persistent compulsion to compare every facet of ourselves to that of others. Others include our family, our friends, our colleagues, everyone we follow on social media, the celebrities we see on TV, and the made up characters we read about in books or watch in movies.
The specific term Obsessive Comparison Disorder is coined by the website All Groan Up. Here, we explore more about:
- why comparing yourself to others can be harmful
- how to stop comparing yourself to others, and
- how God’s truth about who you are and his plan for you can help stop the obsessive comparison disorder.
What are the negative effects of comparing yourself to others
We’re bombarded with so much media everyday – TV, Internet, Social Media, etc. The media is manufactured to look amazing. However, it ends up making us feel awful. How does that work?
Everything and everyone we compare ourselves to has a filter. The filter creates a curated, manicured look and perception, which disregards everything people don’t want us to see.
However, when comparing yourself to others, it’s easy to forget that the filter is there. Instead, we just perceive what looks like a perfect life—or at least a life that’s better than ours.
Unfortunately, your life can’t compete with perfection. Which life always seems better? The one with the filter – i.e. everyone else’s!
Why comparing yourself to others is bad
But regardless of whether you remember that everyone else is only showing you what they want you to see, there is still a major issue with comparing yourself to others – no joy!
Obsessive comparison disorder leads to an endless comparison game with others. When you’re always comparing yourself to others, there is no room to be grateful, to appreciate where you are in life, or embrace who you are.
Additionally, comparing yourself to others takes the focus off of what you do have and who you are. It causes anxiety and discouragement and distracts you from your goals, ambitions, and desires.
What are the negative effects of comparing yourself to others
Other negative effects of comparing yourself to others include broken relationships and isolation.
Jealousy and envy by way of constant comparisons cause conflict in relationships that can be hard to overcome. Sometimes, we subconsciously isolate ourselves because we can’t bear to be around people who seem “better” than us or who seem to be doing “better” than us.
Comparing yourself to others
Obsessive Comparison Disorder has no limits. You can compare anything – jobs, relationship status, significant others, friends, family, goals, career, houses, cars, skills, talents, hairstyles, fashion, shoes, etc.
No wonder comparing ourselves to others seems like the natural thing to do in our society today.
Why can’t I stop comparing myself to others?
Comparing yourself to others is a hard habit to break once it’s been established. But part of that comes from our culture. We often define our success and failures (or lack of success) based on how others are doing.
One example of comparing yourself to others that almost everyone can relate to is grades in school. Whether I got an A or a C on an exam didn’t matter as much as how I did in comparison to others.
If everyone got a C, then I’m proud of my C! But if others scored higher than me, then I start feeling down. Next thing I know, I’m wondering how they managed to score so high.
What do I need to do to be better? What should I have done to score higher…? A couple of hours later, I’m thinking “Everyone else is so much smarter than me…why am I in this class…I should drop out because I don’t belong here.” Thus begins the spiral of comparing yourself to others.
Examples of comparing yourself to others
Other examples of comparing yourself to others that many people can relate to include:
- Career Comparison Examples –job titles, company reputations, manager level, management and coworkers, perks and bonuses, salaries.
- Family and Relationship Comparison Examples – having a significant other, being married, having children, being in a relationship, being single, relationships with family members
- Material Comparison Examples – cars, houses, apartments, where you live, appliances, boats, clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry
- Image Comparison Examples – popularity, body shapes / types, weight, facial features, number of followers or friends, skills or talents, how others are appreciated or valued.
Does anxiety make you compare yourself to others
I struggle the most with being envious of how others are appreciated or valued. From the examples of comparing yourself to others, this falls in the last category (Image Comparisons).
I’m often jealous of the sphere of influence others have and how everyone else seems to be flocking to them. In this area, my anxiety doesn’t make me compare myself to others. But comparing myself to others makes me anxious. I’m anxious about how others perceive me and what impression I leave on others.
Through some soul searching and searching God’s Word, I realized that the anxiety from comparing myself to others was rooted in my identity. I explore more of what te Bible says about comparing yourself to others below, but here’s quick preview.
When my identity is rooted in what other people think of me, I am anxious because people’s opinions are always changing. When my identity is rooted in Christ and who He says I am, I am secure because He never changes (Hebrews 13:8).
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
We’ve talked a lot about comparing ourselves to others and the negative effects this can have on our lives, our joy, our ability to relate to others, and even our mental health. But what about how to stop comparing yourself to others?
How can we bring the obsessive comparison disorder to an end?
1. Practice thankfulness and gratitude
One of my favorite bible verses about thankfulness is:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When we compare ourselves to others, we focus on what we don’t have. Focusing on what we lack makes us feel discouraged, sad, and angry. But when we focus on what God has provided, our whole attitude changes.
You can’t be disgruntled comparing yourself to others and grateful at the same time. The peace that Paul talks about in Philippians comes from expressing our gratefulness to God. For me, it’s a reminder of God’s blessings and provisions that give me peace.
Knowing God’s character is trustworthy and that He is good allows me to trust in what He’s doing in my life.
To help with practicing gratitude, check out my post about creating a gratitude journal with journal prompts . The post includes a free gratitude journal printable.
2. Steer clear of comparison conversations & environments
If you struggle with comparing yourself to others, another tactic for how to stop comparing yourself to others is to avoid situations where you do it.
Are there certain people who are prideful or quick to brag about where they are in life? Maybe you need to see less of them until you become more content with your own life.
Are there certain places where you find yourself playing the comparison game? Business networking events or on social media? Perhaps you can avoid those events and network in other ways. You may also want to take a break from social media.
Comparing yourself to others on social media
For me, the hardest place to stop comparing yourself to others is social media – save staying off of it completely.
In college I had to get off of Instagram completely. Why? I was spending too much time comparing myself to others on social media.
In my downtime, I would scroll on Instagram or Facebook and see the fun, cool things all my high school classmates were doing in college. Sitting in my dorm room alone, I started feeling discouraged. There were so many things I seemed to be missing out on, and no one else was struggling with the transition of going to college.
After lots of scrolling, I realized that social media wasn’t making me feel any better! When I stopped using social media in college, I started living a more balanced, joyful, and content life.
Social media isn’t all bad. And once you learn how to stop comparing yourself to others on social media, it is a tool you can use and enjoy. Until then, here’s 7 simple steps for how to have a social media detox.
3. Peel back the filter
If you choose to engage in conversations, at events, on social media, or in other areas where you’re likely to be comparing yourself with others, then you need to peel back the filter.
As I mentioned earlier, we are often comparing ourselves to people and things that are not real. This is because we’re not getting the full picture, but a section of the picture (or someone’s life) through a filter.
We all need to be on guard against these comparisons between us and what’s not real.
Next time, you start comparing yourself to others – Pause. What are you missing here? What is the filter not showing you?
For example, every time I see one of my friends get promoted on LinkedIn, I start comparing my career to theirs. When I catch myself doing that, I take a step back and think about all the things I don’t know about the situation.
I don’t know about their company, their job responsibilities, or their day-to-day tasks. Maybe if I were in their position, I wouldn’t like any of those things. I don’t know about their coworkers or boss. Maybe their work environment is toxic or they had to work super long hours for their promotion.
The goal of peeling back the filter is not to imagine all the terrible things the other person could be going through. This exercise is meant to remind you that there is a filter there. You don’t have the whole story, so any comparison you make would be untrue.
4. Be focused on your work.
Another common question on this topic is how to stop comparing yourself to others at work. In addition to the other tactics mentioned above, a determined, focused attitude helps overcome the urge to compare yourself to others.
You don’t have time to compare yourself to others at work when you’re busy getting work done.
Comparing yourself to others is a distraction. It keeps us from doing our work, being productive, and enjoying life. By being extremely focused on your work and what you’re doing, you reclaim that headspace and have more energy to work on your personal or work goals.
5. Respond with Scriptures
Lastly, you can stop comparing yourself to others by being secure in the truth of who you are. As Christians, our identity comes from Jesus Christ and who He says we are.
Thus, when we start to feel discoursed or disgruntled by a dreaded comparison, we should turn to Him and Scripture. The Bible encourages and reminds us of our identity in Chrrist.
What does God say about comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others becomes problematic when we want another person’s life and resent or disregard our own life. In those moments, we need to be reminded of what God says about how he created us and the unique plan and purpose he has for each of us.
- God is in control – Whether our life is going the way we planned or not, we can be confident that nothing has caught God by surprise. He is in control of every situation.
- God has placed us where we are for a reason – Sometimes we don’t know why God led us to a certain place or job or why he placed us in a certain church or family. There is a chance we may never know on this side of heaven. In Genesis, Joseph didn’t know at first why God allowed him to be sold into slavery to Egypt. Then he ended up becoming the second in command for Egypt and saving all his family from famine.
- God has a specific plan for YOU and only YOU – We have each been created uniquely, with our own personality, talents, skills, and desires. That was on purpose! We’re not meant to all be the same. For example, both of my sisters work in the medical field, and they love it. I would never want to work in the medical field because blood makes me queasy. I love that my sisters’ love their jobs, but I’ve accepted that God created us differently. He doesn’t want me to be a medical professional. Right now, he wants me typing out words on this blog page.
- God loves you because He created you – not because of anything you do, have done, or will do. His love for us is not dependent on our works, our success, our wealth, our money, how many followers we have, how we look, our weight, our charity work, or anything else. You are loved by God, and that was demonstrated on the cross when Jesus died for your sins.
Bible verses about comparing yourself to others
While I’ve yet to spot a Bible verse that spells out “don’t compare yourself to others,” there are many verses that speak to our identity in Christ and how a Christ-filled life is a joy filled life. This is important, as when comparing yourself to others makes you doubt God’s plan for you, you need a reminder that God is in control and he has a specific purpose for you.
Secondly, Jesus died on the cross and offers us salvation through Him. He didn’t do this so we can live a disgruntled, discontent life. He wants us to have joy by being a follower of Him.
Here are 10 Bible verses to remind us of these truths when we’re comparing ourselves to others:
- Psalms 139:14: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (ESV)
- Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Proverbs 14:30: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
- Genesis 45:4-5: “So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please.’ And they came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.’”
- Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
- John 15:10-11: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
- Ephesians 3:17-19: “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
- Romans 8:29-30: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
- Psalm 138:1-3 – “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”
- 1 Chronicles 29:12-13 – “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”
Comparing yourself to others quotes
In addition to the Bible verses about comparing yourself to others above, here are some inspiring quotes about the topic.
“Never measure yourself using someone else’s ruler.” Pinterest Quote from The Bored Wanderer.
“Focus on Yourself. Don’t get lost in other people.” Pinterest Quote from Global Experiences
“Focus on your goal. Don’t look anywhere else but ahead.” Pinterest Quote from Amy Edge.
“The world tries to steal our joy in the Lord. Because the more unhappy we are, the more we look to the world for satisfaction instead of God.” Pinterest Quote from yours truly, Kara J Lovett Co.
Join KJL Co. on Pinterest to see more inspiring quotes about work, adulting, and faith.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Playing the comparison game is dangerous. It robs us of the joyful life that God has destined for us. It also distracts us from the unique plan he has for each of us.
The secret to beating the comparison game is to choose joy. Don’t compare yourself to others and remember that your identity is rooted in Christ. You are a loved, child of God.
You may not be where you think you should be in life, but your heavenly Father has provided for you and will provide for you. Stop comparing yourself to others. God has you where you are for a reason, and nothing is outside his control.
How do you stop comparing yourself to others?
Leave me a comment below!
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