The Art of Comparison

Have you looked at Facebook today? How about someone's Instagram? Did you find yourself comparing your pictures to theirs, your stories to theirs? Did you compare your weaknesses to their strengths? It happens to the best of us. We find ourselves perusing other peoples "On Stage" life and we compare it our own "Back Stage" life. This can be devastating to our emotional health. We can become insecure and question ourselves. Over time, we can even feel jealous and distracted from our own blessings. How can we avoid comparisons when the opportunities to compare seem endless?

Every November we take our family photos for our Christmas card. We all get dressed in the chosen outfits, we comb hair and drive to the location. By the time we get there, some kids are in tears, some have been fighting and there is always one with a grumpy attitude. I bring the usual lollipops for bribery and hope for the best. When the final card has been printed, we are all posing together, sweet smiles and looking great. My very astute daughter once said, "Mom, we should send a behind-the-scenes picture along with our final product!" The behind the scenes picture would look very different than the final outcome. It is a bit like the magazine covers. We all know they are 98% photo-shopped but we still insist on comparing ourselves to the non-real person on the cover.

We compare ourselves to others' bodies, faces, happiness, wardrobe, houses, cars, children, spouses, job performance, and the list goes on. "Look at her, she has it all together." "Why can't my husband be like that?" "Why do my kids misbehave and hers don't?" "Why are they so happy and I feel so insecure?" We are really good at comparing ourselves to others but really, we should be comparing ourselves to ourselves. Instead of spending precious energy and emotional effort on looking around us, we should be looking inward. Instead of, "She is so skinny and I'm not", we should be saying, "I've lost 2 pounds over the last 30 days...that great!" Comparing ourselves to ourselves is like comparing apples to apples. We should begin to measure ourselves against OUR goals, not someone else's goal.

We know our own weaknesses so well. We know what we look like when we get up and how much effort it takes to look presentable yet we only see the final product of others around us. We know all of the troublesome behaviors our kids present us with at home yet we only see other peoples' kids "on stage". We know the internal struggles our marriages have yet we only see the kissing couple's public appearance. The world around us is sometimes as unreal as the magazine cover. We shouldn't waste our efforts and emotional health comparing our unedited version to the perfection of the edited version of others. Instead, let's make goals and measure our progress based on how far we've come. Today, take time to notice your unique talents and skills, purposefully become aware of even your smallest blessings, steal a glimpse of your kids sweet silliness. After all, it is your life that matters to the ones around you--not the one in your Instagram Feed.

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