by Peggy Burns, M.S., LMFT – CCC San Francisco, Center Director
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Are you struggling to find contentment in a culture of comparison? Is your life not measuring up to “Pinterest-worthy” living? If you can relate, you are not alone! To constantly compare yourself to others steals your joy and can hinder you from finding God’s design for your life. In the last few years, I have seen an increase of Christians experiencing depression and anxiety due to their constant checking of Facebook and other social-networking media.
The bombardment of “happy” pictures, status updates, and videos has given us a new word in the English vocabulary,
FOMO fear of missing out, “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” Oxford English Dictionary
Viewing the lives others are living is often translating into an inadequacy in our own lives. Or even worse, we begin to wish we could be somewhere else or someone else. So much time is wasted fearing what we are missing that we don’t see the blessings that exist right in front of us.
Connected to this FOMO affliction is “the new OCD”. Paul Angone defines the term as,
Obsessive Comparison Disorder “A compulsion to constantly compare ourselves with others, producing unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us to depression, consumption, anxiety, and all-around joyous discontent.”
Comparing ourselves to others is not a new phenomenon; it has been a part of man’s downfall since the beginning of time. In contrast, Scripture urges us to be content:
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct”. Galatians 6:4-5 NLT
The following are 2 ways you can begin to live life differently and let go of the deadly practice of comparison.
1. Celebrate Who You Are
Learn to like yourself. When you downgrade yourself, you won’t see the masterpiece God has made you to be. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) You have great value. You are rare and one-of-a-kind. Begin to focus on the unique strengths and potential He has deposited in you. What you focus on– you magnify. When you become happy with yourself and your qualities you can then begin to also celebrate the gifts of others.
2. Go on a Fast from Social Media – Meditate on God’s Beauty Instead
God created human beings to crave, to wonder, and to be fascinated by beauty. This beauty is found in Scripture. “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4 ESV) Create a new habit of seeking God first and take a break from social media.
You will find freedom from comparison and a new outlook on life when you succeed at being yourself!
Book Recommendation: I’m Happy for You, (Sort Of…Not Really): Finding Contentment in a Culture of Comparison by Kay Wills Wyma
Disclaimer: This article is intended as an educational resource only, and is not intended to be a replacement for treatment. For evaluation and treatment, please contact a qualified mental health professional.