Want to ruin your day? It’s easy and doesn’t cost a penny. Just indulge in the poison of comparison. Last night I parked my past-middle-aged orange Jeep outside the garage because my husband and I planned to assemble new bookcases and needed the room.
I’d just plopped onto the front porch this morning after feeding the horses and dogs and putting the sprinkler on the west bank. My husband appeared moments later and asked, “Did you know that you left your car door open all night?”
“I did? The driver’s door?”
Am I Losing My Mind?
This isn’t where the comparison began, but I wondered if my mind was losing ground faster than I thought. Picking up my keys, I breathed a short prayer and went to see if it would start.
One wonderful thing about technology is how cars know enough to turn off the lights after five minutes, preventing batteries from going belly up when elderly-ish women leave car doors open.
After driving around our shed twice to charge the battery, I drove into the garage and parked, leaving the engine running.
I’d sat down on the porch without doing my morning treadmill routine. (Another slight memory lapse.) Why not let the battery charge while I treaded? Good idea, I thought, so that’s what I did.
When I Began to Compare
Seven years ago I had a full-length mirror installed on the wall between the garage doors so I could check my form on the treadmill. While rehabbing after a total-knee replacement I wrote a short book on the art, style, and benefits of working on a treadmill. (Don’t look for it in bookstores soon.)
I learned a lot about balance, horse training, flying lead changes, and toning most parts of my body while walking a reasonably straight line.
Today I watched myself lift piddly little weights like they were HUGE. Far smaller than those I used seven years ago. My present routine includes less incline work, lighter weights, and I use the handles for balance more often.
Quit Comparing Yourself to Yourself
Wow. How did I let myself get to a place where even little weights are a chore?
“What a failure you are.”
Where does that voice come from? Thankfully, I didn’t swallow the poison. The moment I tasted its brackish taste, I spit it out.
“Get real. You’re doing okay for someone about to consider which Medicare supplement to choose.”
If you must compare, make sure it’s an equal and reasonable comparison. And done with a positive motive, not as an excuse to beat yourself up or fall into the temptation to accept some lame excuse that serves as permission to quit.
Permission to quit isn’t in my wheelhouse. But the voice came again:
“I guess I’m too old. Maybe I’m just not that good anymore.”
Don’t Drink the Poison
And then the kill shot —
“Maybe I was never as good as I thought.”
Do you think like that? Are you? Stop it! This instant. Remember, I am a horse trainer and I own whips. Don’t make me go out to the tack room…
I understand, because I hear the voice, too. You’re not the lone ranger. But it’s destructive, it’s an insult to the Lord who created and leads you, and it’s the worst possible example to those around you.
Encouragement to Avoid Negative Comparisons
Life is the process of gaining and losing. As wisdom builds, ignorance declines. If there’s a correlation between age and wisdom, then you’re getting wiser every day.
Wisdom doesn’t compare apples and oranges
I’m not the same person I was seven years ago when I was a power-treader. My balance isn’t as good, my triceps aren’t as tight, and the door for Botox has already slammed shut.
But this new season has its own perks. I’m learning how to be ridiculously busy yet still retain a sense of leisure. The pressure to perform ebbs in direction proportion to the number of candles on my birthday cake.
Ask your Self-esteem to be reasonable
Confidence is a judgment about your ability to do or achieve something. Wisdom is knowing that ability changes, but that it doesn’t define your value. What is better, strength or strategy?
The answer is, “it depends.” It isn’t a crime to be really young and a bit ignorant, but being really old and ignorant isn’t a good look on anyone.
Self-esteem is the result of comparison. Some folks believe they’re Awesome Stars when they aren’t. Others think they’re Pitiful Failures when they’re not.
Instead of comparing yourself to anything or anyone else, inventory the gifts you have today. God is generous and includes you in His bounty.
Count Your Blessings
I hesitate to include the exercise of preparing a blessing inventory because it sounds so trite. Overused. Repetitive. Yet it remains one of the best ways to gauge where you are today.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8
Heart purity links to truth and reality, not self-conscious musings. When you sit down to make that list of blessings, begin with Jesus Christ. You are a child of the King of Kings. If you still feel like a failure or “less than”, I suggest a little prayer time to sort things out.
If that doesn’t work, ask a friend over to share the experience. Arrange the table with freshly sharpened number two pencils, crisp white paper, and your favorite beverage and snack. Then have at it. By the time you finish cataloging your blessings, I hope the meeting becomes a celebration!
Phone a Friend
If a friend takes you up on your offer, you’re already a winner. If that plan doesn’t pan out, contact me. I’ll work through the list-building process with you.
I do it every day. Remember how my day began? I left the car door open…
Other sources: The Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others