Women and the Comparison Trap

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

We’ve all probably heard something similar to this quote before, and we probably even believe it to be true. However, living our lives with this saying as one of our core values is much easier said than done.

Lately, I’ve really been struggling with this reality: I’m comparing myself to others a lot more than I should be. I’m finding fault in my own actions and personality characteristics because I am constantly looking at the next person. I think about how I want to be like them, how I should be like them . . . and not be the real, amazing, and awesome person that I actually am. I’m not only comparing myself to others, but I’m comparing the things I have and my material possessions to those of others in my life . . .

This girl has a shiny new car, while my car has dents, and dings in the dull paint, and is over six years old. That girl is putting her kids in all the gorgeous name brands, while my kids are wearing the big box store brand and various hand-me-downs. And another girl is wearing designer jewelry and big diamonds, while I’m over here adorning my neck and ears with mere “costume jewelry” of no monetary value.comparison trap

Even more, I’m comparing my own success, or lack thereof, with that of other women I know. I see these women who have started their own businesses and are making lots of money. I see women who have been able to quit their “day jobs” because of their newfound success. I so want to quit my day job, and I so desire to have my own successful business, but I’m just not there yet. All of my side hustles are seeing mediocre success and providing me with just a little extra spending money each month, but not enough to replace my nursing job’s income.

Day after day, I constantly find myself comparing my life to that of the other women I know and see. And it makes me sad. It most certainly steals any ounce of joy I might have been feeling before that moment of comparison. This comparison leads me down the road of negative self-talk, feelings of depression, and even into doubts about my self-worth.

But why? Why are we women so stuck in the comparison trap?! Why do we torture ourselves by thinking that we aren’t as fabulous as the next girl? Why do we covet what our friends have? Why are we jealous of their careers, their possessions, their success, or their entire lives? And why do we feel such a need to “keep up with the Joneses,” as the popular saying goes?

I can’t offer an answer as to why we women feel this way. If I knew the answer, maybe I wouldn’t feel like this on a daily basis. Maybe if I knew why I was constantly comparing myself to others, then maybe I could STOP comparing; maybe I could focus on all the good in myself and all that I have to offer. Maybe I could take notice of all the blessings in my life, and just be thankful for where I am right now.

I heard a new song this week by Kelsea Ballerini called “What I Have.” At first, I started to turn the station because the beat wasn’t the uptempo that I was in the mood for. But I caught a glimpse of the song title on my car’s radio screen, and something about it made me pause and just listen to the lyrics.

“I’ve been comparing shiny new toys,

It’s just the root of the thief of my joy . . .

I got the air, good eyes to see,

Got so much more than I’ll ever need,

Even the bad days ain’t all that bad

With what I have.”

I sat there in the driver’s seat, navigating the highway on the way home from a really long day at work. I was absolutely exhausted from that darn “day job,” but I took a moment to really think about my life. At that moment, I blocked out all the thoughts of comparison, negative self-talk, self-doubt, and feelings of depression; I just felt gratitude. I let these warm feelings of thankfulness for my life’s blessings fill my chest, and I thanked God for giving me all that He has.

I’m guilty of breaking the 10th Commandment, which states “thou shalt not covet,” on a daily basis. As I sit here writing this, I can think back and give a few examples of how I’ve broken this commandment just over the past few hours. But I’m learning to get better at it.

I’m trying to curb my jealousy over what others have and not let comparison be the thief of my joy. I’m practicing more gratitude every day for each and every aspect of my life. I’ve even started my own gratitude journal with the goal to write in it at least once a day.

Each of us was made different from the next, and each of us has our own gifts and talents. It’s our job to share these gifts with others and to be grateful that we are able to help others with our talents. We, as women, must stop the constant comparison game, and instead lift each other up in our achievements. When we do so, we are able to feel so much more joy, experience so much more happiness, and just get so much more out of life. Praise your fellow woman for her success and be happy for her!

And experience the power of gratitude for all of your own blessings! Don’t let the “comparison trap” drag you down in despair. Rise up and celebrate all the things, both big and small, that are put in your life each day. Live each day in gratitude and in joy.

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