The Comparison Trap

In our microwave-generation and social-media-led world, we’ve gotten into the habit of constant comparison.

From our appearances to achievements, to daily lifestyle and food choices, we get in and out of the comparison boat without really understanding what it does to us in the long-run.

You’ve heard it before: comparison steals joy.

But not only that, it can steal your time, energy, self-esteem, and probably money, too.

It gets the best of us. But it doesn’t have to.

As something I’ve also struggled with and continue to work on in myself, I want to share some specific mindset shifts and practical steps I’ve applied to my own life to help me get out of this trap. It’s important to understand the roots of comparison, but even more important to take action to break the comparison cycle.

Comparison in Perspective

Comparison is the consideration of similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people. We kind of need it to tell things apart – right and left, up or down, high or low, black and white – you get it. At its core, it’s not bad. It could and should be healthy and helpful for growth, motivation, and getting feedback for progress.

But when you dwell on the highlights, filters, and your perception of other people’s lives, it can really bring you down. Not because of other people, but because of your perspective.

You get trapped in a false mindset that their lives are somehow better than yours. That they have this or that and you don’t.

The snowball grows as you let the negative, anxious thoughts and emotions roll around in your head, and before you know it, you want to give up completely, change everything, including your wardrobe, and just start over.

What if I told you, you can turn comparison into a positive trigger?

Turn Comparison Into a Positive Trigger

Most people don’t know what to do with themselves after a rant of internal comparisons (speaking from experience here). They end up forming decisions out of those comparisons and making unnecessary changes and choices based on what they thought they needed.

Most people act off of the negative trigger without considering the consequences. They end up putting their happiness, peace of mind, and confidence on the line.

But if you turn comparison into a positive trigger, you will slide out of the trap quicker each time until it can’t hold you down at all.

As I mentioned earlier, comparison is not bad at its core. It’s part of human cognition and can be beneficial for your personal development. When you compare yourself to others, you get information about what you want and where you want to be. How you use that will determine if you’re reactive or proactive.

When you are reactive, you dwell on the negative thoughts and what you lack, which leaves you nowhere except resentful. When you are proactive, you decide on how to move forward by controlling your behavior and ceasing opportunities. Being proactive with comparison means that you choose to use it for self-improvement, and hence, turn whatever was meant to bring you down into something that moves you forward.

As soon as you find yourself in comparisons for the wrong reasons, ask yourself:

  1. Will I care about this in 30 days, 3 months, or 1 year?
  2. Should I care about this in 30 days, 3 months, or 1 year?
  3. Am I in need of approval? (If so, from who?)

After asking yourself these questions, be proactive and make the decision to move away from negative thoughts. These questions help bring you back into reality and away from stress, distractions, and false beliefs, such as the need for approval from anyone other than God.

The only approval you need and already have is from God.

Apostle Paul said to the Galatians, For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. He also says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation! The old has passed away.

As a follower of Christ, part of being that new creation is tearing down old beliefs and embracing His truth. That’s renewing your mind. That’s sanctification. That’s growth in God!

It’s easier said than done, because when you’re in the comparison trap, all you see is what you lack. Which is why catching that initial moment and turning it into a positive trigger is important. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. The more and quicker you ask yourself those questions, the further you get from the trap each time.

But because we are creatures of habit and learn best by practice, there are 3 things you can do to cultivate this mindset in your life.

Not only will it keep you from falling into the comparison trap, but it will actually help you renew your mind and understand your values. It will help you use comparison for growth and getting what you want in life instead of being tossed to and fro by societal standards.

3 Ways To Get Out of the Comparison Trap & Renew Your Mind

1. Practice Gratitude

Reminder: who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens.

You probably saw this one coming, but it is seriously a game-changer. Gratitude leads to contentment, which ultimately, leads you back to joy. And when you have joy, life is just so much more pleasant.

There are many psychological, health, and wellness forums that talk about practicing gratitude, but the more amazing thing is that this practice is a principle found in the Word of God.

In just about every book of the Bible, there’s gratitude and thanksgiving. Practicing it turns it into a principle, which helps make it a lifestyle.

Simply write 3 things you’re grateful for every evening or morning. It can be heartfelt and inspiring or something to make you chuckle. Then at the end of your week, look back through your journal and review. Not just what you wrote, but how much you’ve grown.

2. Practice Encouragement

Reminder: the strongest people make time to help others, even while they’re also struggling.

Next, when you take a moment to pop out of your bubble (especially one clouded in comparison), and encourage someone, there’s an undoing that takes place.

Your focus on someone else takes your eyes off of yourself and your own needs, putting Philippians 2:4 into action, Do not ·be interested only in your own life, but ·be interested in the lives of others [look out for others‘ interests].

When you give encouragement, you get encouraged. You may not always receive it in return, but when you genuinely look out for another’s interests (like simply compliment them, or show them support in any way) you actually get encouraged through the process. There’s something about leading others into joy that brings us joy as well.

Sometimes it takes everything in you to say a word of encouragement, but again, the more you do it, the easier it will become. Encouraging others is a way to cultivate a lifestyle of mind renewal.

3. Practice Replenishment

Reminder: you are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel.

Last, practice replenishment. This means to find rest, rejuvenation, and revelation, and that, however you need it.

Take breaks from social media, the news, and TV. Do a puzzle, read a book, or take a bath. Do something that will make you lose track of time and solely focus on doing that with no other distractions. If you need to work that into your schedule and time it, then do that.

Because if you aren’t getting replenished and doing things you enjoy, it will be a lot easier to fall into a comparison trap. You’re not a machine, you’re a human being who’s loved and cherished by your God. Do what time and your lifestyle will allow you but focus on getting replenished.

For my husband, it’s rock-climbing. For me, it’s reading good historical fiction book or playing Sudoku.

Conclusion: Use It To Your Advantage

Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

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There’s a lot to be said about comparison, but I’d like to leave you with this:

Not everything you see on social media, TV, or even at the grocery store is as it seems. You know that.

From our appearances to achievements, to daily lifestyle and food choices, comparison leads to resentment because it steals joy. With all that’s already going on in the world, the last thing you need is for your joy to get taken.

So, practice gratitude, encouragement, and replenishment. And turn that comparison into a positive trigger, because it will help you get closer to what you want and where you want to be. You just need to shift that perspective and use it to your advantage.


What’s your advice on getting out of the comparison trap? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

If you can’t comment, please take a moment to share or like this post!

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