Comparison: How to manage what we can’t escape

 

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[I am so excited to share this guest blog post about comparison from my mentor Pastor Mark DuPré! For more about him and his wife (who have literally been life-changing for me), scroll down to the bottom!]

As long as there are people around, there will be comparison.

It will always be with us.

Of course, unfair comparisons can hurt, and we need to be on guard about the damage they can do.

But saying “Don’t compare” is fairly useless.

It reminds me of stress. When I was in the business world, I noticed a shift in training over the years. In the beginning, there were sessions on “stress reduction.” Then apparently the folks doing that kind of training looked around and realized that was an unwinnable battle for most people. Then we had sessions on “stress management,” which made a lot more sense to everyone.

Comparison is like that. We’re not going to get rid of it, but we can manage it.

How? Well, by different thinking and by redirection.

Mental Shift #1: Comparison can be a learning moment.

We need to realize that comparison can be a greatly beneficial learning moment for all of us.  Through properly observing others (i.e. comparing myself), I’ve learned how to be gentler, how to handle difficult situations, and how to have healthier perspectives on any number of topics. If we think of ourselves as lifelong learners, and as everyone else as the source of life lessons, we can learn every day. 

Mental Shift #2: Resist its accompanying negative voices.

Sometimes comparison is accompanied by attacks on ourselves. For example, noticing that someone is a better singer or better looking offers us the chance to turn in on ourselves. We have to choose whether or not to listen to voices that generalize and condemn, such as: “See — you’re a failure in this area” or “you’re ugly.” Let’s learn to resist those voices! Notice I didn’t say “avoid the comparison,” because that’s impossible. The problem here isn’t the comparison per se; it’s listening to the negative voices that can accompany it.

Let’s release the positive power of comparison by redirecting our focus.

Instead of deepening the rut of comparison that leads to self-attacks, let’s cut a new mental pathway and embrace the many learning opportunities out there provided by the people around us.

It’s like nature—sometimes we just have to stop and take a good long look around us at the physical beauty of this world. When it comes to people, let’s free them and us by taking on the role of the continual learner, and grab all the lessons we can learn. There’s a lot of free learning available out there! Yes, a few folks may even provide lessons of what not to do (“Wow—note to self: Don’t ever do that!”)

If we have the right perspective, we can grow every day.

Hey, comparison with the proper learning context could be your new best friend.

—A little bit about my mentors, the DuPrés:

Without the mentorship of Pastor Mark DuPré and his wife Diane, I would not be the person I am today. With their help and prayers I gained freedom from the final stages of my disordered eating, and healing from past relationships. 

When he shared these insights on comparison with me recently, I had to share them with all of you. Sometimes we fight so hard to feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, or the most talented athlete, and we hate comparing ourselves with others. However, I know I’m not the most beautiful woman in the world, and I no longer have to feel that way. I will always notice if others are prettier or not prettier than me, but that comparison doesn’t have to be accompanied by negative voices. What a relief!

To read more of his life-changing, practical wisdom, check out Pastor Mark’s “How to Act Like a Grownup” book and blog, as well as his personal site.

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