How to Stop the "Comparathon"!
1/7/2014 11:44:00 AM
This blog is not a bible lesson but this verse is a good lead into today’s issue:
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT
Basically, King Solomon was saying folks work so hard simply because they envy what others have. We look, compare, and then think we need to do more to get what someone else has! It is like chasing the wind – which you can never catch– fruitless. Why? If we try to keep up with Joneses, we’ll keep running in circles. And it obvious when we dare to compare, we always come up short.
Don’t get it twisted – I am not saying I have never compared myself to anyone else. I admit it – I have been guilty of the comparison game. Not that I wasn’t happy for someone else’s success. I was. In fact, I tend to be happier for others than I often am for myself. (Don’t know what that’s about but will deal with this year, too.) However, when we use someone else’s life to measure where we’re supposed to be, we’ll always falsely appear to not be doing enough when we could be right where we’re supposed to be.
Because each of us has a uniquely ordained purpose, we should only measure ourselves according to the path for our personal destination. But when you see someone else who seems to have the dream job, house you can’t imagine owning, the spouse you long for, etc. you can get discouraged. You may desire all those things but what if your calling doesn’t include what your friend has? You may need to remain single to focus on your life’s purpose. But if you look at all your married friends, you’ll be tripped up longing for marriage. Maybe your job doesn’t pay the most financially but you give so much to other people’s lives that’s needed. If you envy the homies corporate gig with the big bucks, you won’t see how you bless people’s lives in your current position.
And those are just a couple of examples of how comparison can throw us off track. But when you can’t be happy for others as you long for more, you may give yourself a double beating. First, you’ll be upset because you can’t be truly happy for them. Then you’re upset with yourself for not "making it"! No matter what the object of desire is, peer success can provoke jealousy and feelings of panic – mainly about why it hasn't happened to you (yet). Yeah, you love your homegirls, cousins, church members – all of ‘em! So why does it sting when one of them reaches a life-changing goal before you do? For Self Magazine, check out what Sara Z. Wexter says in the piece, “How to Stop the Friend Comparathon”.
Adapted From Self.com:
Look at the Downside. That gushy Facebook update about your friend's sweet new job title? That's only the outcome you're hearing about. No one brags about all the late nights and the thankless tasks that came before the reward. Realizing this can help you see that your friend didn't "score"; she worked hard for her achievements. Remind yourself of all the things you're working toward right now, and shift your focus to what's known as temporal comparison. "It's the act of comparing yourself to you, not others," says Julie Exline, Ph.D., director of clinical training at Case Western Reserve University's department of psychological sciences. Give yourself credit for how far you've come in the past year—chances are, you're doing well enough that others are pining for your accomplishments.
Ask Some Hard Questions. We think of jealousy as shameful, but experts say it's actually a good way to determine where you need to make changes in your life. "Consider it a signal tool—we tend to only feel envy over things we deeply care about," Exline says. "Examine it and you might discover a dream you didn't know you had." If a friend's new career change has you seeing green, it might be time to polish your résumé. Or if she just won't shut up about the amazing new boyfriend, that's your cue to book a romantic weekend trip for you and your (nice and steady) guy.
Form a Power Circle. Your friend can also act as an unofficial life coach. "She knows something you don't, and most likely she'll be happy to share her secrets," says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. When you first hear her big news, start by congratulating her. After she's found her footing, treat her to drinks, tell her how inspired you are and ask if she has any tips. Once you know how she landed that new gig, or found the one cool guy on OkCupid, you'll be on your way to your own happy hour celebration—and this time, you'll be the one doling out the sage advice.
I have found being grateful for my life and rejoicing for others is crucial to overcoming the comparison game. When you are grateful for what is, you appreciate your life and all its’ offerings. When you rejoice with - and for – others, your emotions are forced to follow suit.
Simply put, it’s hard to hate when you are happy….with you and for others.