February 25, 2014

6 Practical Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Women: ICM WK 4

Hello friend.  Well I have to admit...when I sat at the keys to type out this post, my mind blanked.  I myself am a victim of endless comparisons.  I am a woman who has the habit of plunging the roots of my identity into the dehydrated soils of "successes," "beauty," "intellect," "productivity," "popularity," "godliness" (ouch), "mothering skills," and many others. 

Each time I try to anchor myself there, desperately forming my identity from the dust - playing God... without fail I'm left parched, wilting, withered....fruitless.

So while I'm unworthy to advise you, I am on the journey in a very personal way, and the following are some things that help me personally to stop the game of comparisons:


6 Practical Ways to Combat Comparisons

1. Focus on Your Purpose

Let your goals direct you, not others'.  Let your standards regulate you, not others'.  (Try reading your mission statement).  Your friend; she's got her own hardships and her own goals and her own successes - that is her story.  Your story is different.  You have a different calling and a different life.  Resist the urge to look around you, to others, for a stencil to determine what your life should look like.  You are you.  That is so over-said, but it's true.  One of the most important steps in getting over comparing yourself to others is giving yourself permission to be just you.  Now big sigh of relief.  God made you to be you and to pursue the purpose he has for you...not for someone else; that's liberating.

2.  Avoid Pitfalls 

I know my pitfalls. Mine are magazines, Pinterest, Facebook, and blogs.  I think all of the above are beneficial and have their bright-sides.  But, when I let these things consume too much of my time and thoughts...I'm essentially allowing the world to tell me what I should be, and then in creeps insecurity and self-depreciation.  I know myself well enough now to browse with moderation.  If my time spent reading blogs and magazines, or perusing the picture-perfect lives of acquaintances on Facebook, is imbalanced with my time spent with my family or with God in prayer or in the Word...it shows.  My heart begins to use the world as my mirror, and I always come up too short.  Or, God forbid, I manage to compare myself to others who aren't measuring up to me (gasp!) and I'm puffed up with superficial nasty pride (see #5).

Know your pitfalls, and within reason, avoid them.  Flee from the areas that tempt you to compare yourself.

3. Celebrate Others

Rather than envying others, celebrate them.  Practice turning your jealous thoughts into sincere compliments.  Really, do you wish ill on others?  Ask yourself this when you feel down on yourself or jealous of others' well-being.  Do I really not want that for her?

I have friends who are so much prettier than I am, so much more talented, and have many of the skills in motherhood (and life) that I'm lacking.  Should I stew with envy?  No.  I would never wish that they were ugly, or without successful jobs, or without a beautiful home, or without a doting husband.  I love my friends.  I must strive to love all humanity as God calls me, so the way I celebrate my friends' well-being should apply to everyone.  Regardless of someone's attitude (for example, if someone is prideful or showy), my attitude is what is under my control, and I can choose to celebrate others and encourage them, rejoicing with those who are rejoicing.  Complimenting others doesn't come naturally to me, but I have been practicing it intentionally for years now, because I found that lifting others up is the antidote to jealousy and criticism.  I should be seeking confidence and security in Christ, not in criticizing others inwardly or cutting people down to make myself feel more competent.

4. Pause for Prayer

I find that one of the most powerful tools for me to avoid comparing myself with others is prayer.  As soon as that thought pops into your head, whether it's "I've got no chance at being as pretty as she is," "she is so talented and I suck," "her husband is always buying nice gifts for her and mine never does," (ladies, it's scary business comparing our husbands) or "she's always so together...I will never measure up..." whatever it may be, start praying.  Just tell God straight up what you're thinking; he wants to protect your heart and wants relationship with you desperately.

My prayer sometimes looks like, "God, you see how miserably insecure I feel when I'm around her..."  I tell him exactly how I feel and I ask eagerly for God to change my heart to be more like his.  I pray for the person I'm comparing myself to - for their well-being, for their success, and that they would be spiritually full.  I pray that God would help me find my worth in him alone and not in my status, based on how I compare to others.  Sometimes it's a prayer for forgiveness..."God, forgive me for thinking I'm better than they are..."  As I pray out my feelings, and ask for God's help, my heart finds perspective and ultimately peace as God redirects my thoughts.

5.  Embrace Humility

If you were truly superwoman, or really truly had everything - flawless beauty, a perfectly decorated mansion of a house, a perfect husband, a spiritual life that puts the Virgin Mary to shame, well-behaved children who eat only raw organic foods that you prepare from scratch (from your garden), a clean house, and a lucrative side-business to boot - you would probably have no sense of need from God, or would likely have some major pride issues to deal with.  I know that my inadequacies and flaws actually create an opportunity for me to depend on God, and help me to remember my place, keeping me from thinking too highly of myself.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that he will boast in his weaknesses so that Christ's power can work through him.

It's okay for you to be lacking in some areas.  Everyone does.  Embrace it.  In your weaknesses and shortcomings, Christ's power can be at work and your soul all the better for it.  Humility is something to be well-received, with open arms.  Embracing, even desiring, humility helps me opt out of the temptation to compare myself to others, because I'm not depending on the state of others to determine my worth or to build myself up.

While being God in the flesh, Jesus wasn't the most attractive man on the planet, he didn't have a finely decorated house (or really any for that matter), he wasn't popular, he wasn't wealthy, he wasn't trying to impress others.  In the areas where you feel inadequate, embrace it as an opportunity to be weak, to be humble, and to be more like Christ, more dependent on God, not leaning on your successes or beauty, but rather God's power in you.

One more thought:
"Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had..." (Phillipians 2:3-5)

6. Compare Yourself to God's Word

I have a really fantastic husband.  When I'm having a pity party, and feeling like "I'm hideous," or "like I'm the most incompetent mother in the world," he gives me hugs and says stuff like "I seriously think you're pretty," or "I think you're doing a great job with our kids."  And sometimes, I feel like if Tedd thinks I'm enough, then that's all that matters, because I trust him and I love him; his approval means more to me than the approval of millions.

If God says you have value and that you are loved, well then take a deep breath and soak it in, because he's trustworthy.  He loves you and his approval is worth more than the approval of billions - and more than your coworkers', more than your husband's, more than your parents', and most importantly...more than your own.  

The truth is, we don't really measure up.  None of us.  And we can never do or be enough to earn God's approval with our own futile efforts.  But that's the beauty of the Gospel message...becoming a new creature in Christ in us makes us enough.  It is Christ in you that makes you "exactly perfect" in God's eyes.  You don't have to look all around you anymore to see if you measure up.

All throughout the Bible it's clear that God isn't looking at what mankind sees, he's looking at your heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  Women are encouraged to re-focus their attention toward the adorning of the "hidden person of the heart," rather than on their outward appearances (1Peter 3:4).

When we are chronically comparing ourselves to others outwardly, rather than looking inwardly to the condition of our hearts and where we stand with God, we are inviting our flesh to deceive us.  Your own evaluation of self, based on the evaluation of others around you, will either puff you up with false pride in your superficial achievements, or bring you to the conclusion that you are unlovable, ugly, or underachieved.  Either side of the spectrum is falling away from the identity that Christ offers.
"When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (2 Corinthians 10:12b)
Looking "up" to God, rather than "around" to others, when evaluating ourselves, helps us to really see ourselves with a correct perspective, giving us a proper balance of humility and self-worth.

So how about you?  How do you stop the ugly cycle of comparing yourself to others, whether it's to build yourself up or to tear yourself down?  Tell me what you would add to the list!

________________________________

Group Questions:
1. What are your pitfalls?  What situations cause you to start comparing yourself to others?
2. How do you avoid comparing yourself to others?
3. What are some examples of who God says we are? (here's a list for starters)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...