“Comparison is the thief of joy.” We’ve all heard it. But have we applied it to ourselves? Doubt it. Every day is filled with comparisons—work ethic among coworkers, test scores of colleagues, even stats of your favorite sports team. Constantly, we are faced with the temptation to compare.
Giving in to these toxic thoughts will eat away at your soul. It leads to self-deprecation and beating yourself up for not being better. Determining your worth based on others’ performance is a damaging and unhealthy spiritual practice. So what can we do when we are faced with comparisons? How do we tap into our inner light and spiritual confidence when the world around us fights to extinguish it?
Remember Your Spiritual Identity
“Remember who you are.” Now read that again, this time in Mufasa’s voice. I knew The Lion King was great, even as a child. Truly, remembering is key to halting the hate that comes from comparison.
When faced with a situation where comparison creeps in, take a moment to connect to your spiritual core. This may look like taking ten minutes to meditate. Getting fresh air and connecting with nature. Journaling your feelings. Focusing on digging deep and remembering your spiritual identity. You are loved. You are enough.
I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes that helps me remember my true identity as a spiritual being. Read it a couple of times—because it’s powerful. It’s changed my life and I hope you feel the same:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson
Remember this the next time you’re tempted to compare. Let the other individual shine. And then dig deep, remember who you are, and feel the freedom to just be you.
Stop Comparing Weaknesses and Strengths
When I catch myself comparing, I often notice that I’m measuring my weakness against others’ strengths. Where I feel inadequate, I see others succeeding and making a difference. It takes real self-control to recognize the unfair comparison happening in my brain.
Krista Tippet, the host of the podcast “Becoming Wise,” shared the importance of both weaknesses and strengths: “Failure and vulnerability are the very elements of spiritual growth and personal wisdom. What goes wrong for us as much as goes right—what we know to be our flaws as much as what we know to be our strengths—these make hope reasonable and lived virtue possible. They are part of our gift to the world.”
Change your mindset. Recognize that this world needs all of you – both the pros and the cons that make up your spiritual identity. As you discover greater inner confidence in your whole self, the temptation to compare will dissipate.
Cut Comparison and Serve
I believe if we can develop the virtue of self-control, we’ll conquer comparison. It starts in your mind. Learn to breathe through an ugly thought and then see with new spiritual eyes. Maybe you’ll need to talk it out or walk it off—whatever helps you. Just take a moment and change your mindset.
The roommate you envy because of their trim build? Maybe they struggle with an eating disorder. The pay raise your coworker received? Maybe they can’t afford new clothes for their children. Behind every temptation we have to compare and complain, there’s an unseen story.
Significant spiritual growth comes when we set aside our own feelings and put others’ first. We’ll find our spirits stretched and strengthened when we incorporate this mindset, stop the damaging practice of comparing, and start to selflessly serve.
Finding a way to help others—especially those you tend to envy—breaks down barriers. Souls connect and gratitude heals. Where there were once toxic thoughts of comparison and frustration, there can be compassion and understanding. Serving bonds us and allows us to feel a spiritual connection of belonging.
Our spirits yearn to belong. Learn to be cautious of comparison and seek opportunities to serve. Remember who you are, but allow others to shine as well. Stop. Comparing.