When I was looking to hire a builder for our new house, I wanted to see some houses that he had built already. Just to check out the visual quality. Some of his houses were over the top amazing. In fact, in one house he had connected it to a tree house that he also built. A tree house! I was blown away.
In the course of our conversation he told me something I that will never forget. He told me, that after my house was built…to throw away every building and decorating magazine that I had and to even cancel the subscriptions. Why? Because there will always be something newer, brighter, shinier, and fancier than what I have. I will get stuck always comparing.
So, in order to remain content…don't even look.
And, he was right. The comparison trap. Comparison is the thief of joy…every single time.
Are any of these you?
Joe just got a new shiny fancy car – You look at your beat up old thing…and sigh. Forgetting that you loved your car until you saw Joe's.
Mary down the street had all new automatic blinds installed – You look at your manual blinds (SO old school) and now want automatic ones too. Forgetting that your blinds were great until you saw Mary's.
Little Johnny was flawless in his recital – Your daughter messed up about 10 times. And you wonder why she could not remember her lines. Was there something wrong? But, up until the recital you thought your daughter was amazing!
Bill and Sue just bought an amazing house in an amazing neighborhood – You just love it. Everything about it. And then wonder why YOU don't have the money to live there too. Forgetting that, up until you saw their house, you were so grateful to own the home that you have.
Yup….Comparison Traps. Every single one!
Now, when I grew up we did not have Instagram, the Internet (I know, weird right) or Pinterest. The only houses and cars we saw were the ones in our neighborhood or where our friends might live. And, since everyone made about the same amount of money there was nothing to compare it to. Because it all looked pretty much the same. Social media is now fueling the comparison fire…and not in a good way.
Social media comparing yourself to others
Scrolling through social media? All of those Instagram before and after pictures are enough to make a person swoon…and then compare. And then wish.
Now, I gotta say..wishing is good. In fact, sometimes wishing motivates us to action. You really wish you had a new sofa. So, you put a plan in place to SAVE for that sofa. You want to pay cash. Why? Cause debt is NOT a good thing.
It's when wishing becomes envy. And envy becomes comparison…that is when comparison is the thief of joy.
Your sofa is perfectly ok. It does the job. You don't have to worry about it getting dirty because it already has a few stains…so now you can just enjoy it. The trap comes into play when you fixate on that new sofa. HER sofa. And you just gotta have it. Rather than being happy for her…and being joyful for yourself.
You are now envious and stuck in the comparison trap. And that trap can sometimes lead to bad decisions. Like financing and paying interest. Or going against an agreement that you and your spouse had about new purchases. In fact, arguments might even fly. ALL because of a sofa that someone else bought. (FYI – Money-related arguments are one of the biggest causes of divorce).
So, how do you avoid the comparison trap? How do you maintain joy in what you have?
Now. that is a good question.
First – It is a natural reaction to see something you like and then want to own it. Only your mind needs to LEARN how to process that information in a healthy manner. Your mind needs to determine if:
– You have the money – If you really need it -And then wait a few weeks…just to be sure.
Second – Don't look. Now, I know that sounds overly simplistic. But it's true. If you find yourself becoming disappointed in yourself and what you have…if what you see is messing with your self-esteem…just don't look. Let's say that you are struggling with your house. You are caught in the comparison trap of decorating, furniture, and location. Maybe you need to:
– Stay off of social media for a while. See what happens to your heart and mind. – Cancel your magazine subscriptions. – Don't buy any magazines and don't borrow any either. – Stop going to open houses.
Third – Remind yourself that what you see is NOT the complete story.
– Maybe the car that Joe bought was financed and he is on the brink of going bankrupt after buying that car. Or, he really can't afford that monthly payment at all. HE wants the status more than the comfort of financial security and living within his means. – Maybe Bill and Sue had a huge argument about where they were going to live. Sue wanted the neighborhood even though it cost more than they really could afford. And, she just expected Bill to figure out how to pay for it. – Maybe Johnny's performance was so good because his parents made him practice and practice and practice…until he got it right. And, at what cost to Johnny? You will never know.
All I am saying is…you really do NOT know what is behind the scenes.
With the people you meet and especially what you see on social media or in a magazine. I always wonder, at what cost to themselves and their family, did it take to achieve their ‘perfection' or ‘new ness.'
And, one last thing. when you can remove yourself from the Comparison Trap you are choosing YOU over anything that someone else might have. You are choosing your peace and contentment. You are choosing to remember what you have…and not focus on what you don't have. You are well on your way to living a joyful life.
The Comparison Trap Bible Study
If you are looking for a GREAT Bible Study I recommend this one by Sandra Stanley. It is excellent.
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INCLUDED - My Party Planner! Put your party hat on and plan with confidence! Grab yours before they are gone!
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