5 Steps to Combat the Comparison Trap

We have all fell into the comparison trap.  Just the other day, it was Valentine's Day.  I made pink heart-shaped pancakes ahead of time, carefully cut little hearts out of bread to make a heart peanut butter sandwich and just as I put it in my daughter's lunch box she said, "mom, Sally's mom writes her a love note in her lunch box every single day."  Clearly, the heart shaped peanut butter sandwich wasn't as cool as I thought it had been 5 seconds prior.

I started to compare.

On days like Valentine's Day it doesn't take much more than a swipe of your finger to compare.  In a quick knee-jerk response and not to be out done, I added a note to my kids' lunch boxes.  It wasn't until after they left that I thought, why did I do that?  The answer left me with a gut punch in reality.

I compare, it doesn't feel good and yet I can't seem to stop.  My guess is you might occasionally too!

So, the answer usually given to combat the problem is -- don't do it.  Do not compare.

However, we always will.  I am not being pessimistic, it's human nature.  Comparison is a scape goat of a deeper rooted problem.  It's about our heart.

The funny thing is no one can see our heart (except God) and often we can fool ourselves where our hearts concerned.  Look at me, just the other day I quickly penned a note and stuck it in my kids' lunch box because I compared and then fooled myself easily into thinking it's because I wanted my kids to know I loved them.  (By the way, I do love them but that's not why I wrote the note.)

So, what's one to do when comparison strikes?

1. Pause to recognize comparison.

Often times I don't even see it coming before I am already reacting.  Recognize that feeling you have when you start to compare.  The more you practice recognizing it, the better you will become at combating it.  We can't control others actions but we can control how we react.

2.  Ask yourself a Question.

Why?   Why am I comparing?  Is this helping me?  Why do I feel this way?  Is it insecurity? Is it competition? Is it jealousy?  Those are really hard, gut-check questions.  They aren't easy to answer.
To be honest it's easier not to which is why we can fool ourselves into the blame game.  It's easy for me to blame the other mom who writes the love notes.  It's not her fault at all.  It's human nature to pass the buck and want to blame someone else.

3.  React with Intention.

Once you have taken a moment to recognize comparison, react with intention.  Like me, you might still toss the love letter into the lunch box or you might be satisfied with the heart-shaped PB sandwich you have already made.

4. Choose to be inspired.

If you see something in someone you really like, rather than compare, choose to be inspired.  Log that idea for another day or try it yourself but remember to do it with the right intentions, don't do it just to keep up with Jones!  There are a lot of great ideas out there and it's great to learn and try new things.  Be inspired by others.

5.  Give and Receive Grace.

It's always in style to give grace.  I get it wrong a lot.  I get over-zealous about the holiday ideas and blog all about the fun you can have with your family.  Others post about how awesome their weeklong vacation was, the one I would die to go on.  Often times, we think the worst of others and their motives behind their post.   Surely, they just want to make me jealous, 99.9% of the time that's not the case.  We won't let the 0.1% jade us!

Encourage others and rejoice with them.  Joy begets joy.  Where comparison seeks to divide us, encouragement seeks to bind us together.  

So, the next time you feel the urge to compare, take a deep breath and ask yourself why?  Then choose your reaction wisely, give grace and encouragement with every opportunity.  The new practice will lead to greater joy then comparison ever can.

ps -- The minute I pushed publish on this piece, I logged on to Facebook to see a friend share some exciting news about a speaking event she got asked to speak at.  I got to put into practice what I wrote here...pause, choose my reaction with intention and rejoice with her.  It's not always easy, but it transformed my heart in that moment!  I am learning right along with you!

Until next time, keep on keeping on with an intentional, joyful, faith-filled, intentional life.  #tribekoko

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Linking up with My Glittery HeartLindsay's Sweet World and The Sirois Family for Oh Hey Monday

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