I’m a slow runner. I mean s-l-o-w. I hesitate to even refer to myself as a runner because I don’t think someone who moves as slowly as I do should even be classified as such -- especially when I am so-called running and one of those power walkers passes me by. You know, the speed-walker people who swing their hips like there is no tomorrow and pump their arms like they are marching in the army on fast-forward?
Compared to my molasses-like movement, everyone else, runners and fast-walkers alike, seems to glide over the pavement. It seems as though others are able to do effortlessly what it takes every cell in my body to barely accomplish. But here’s what I’ve learned: Comparison is unhealthy. In fact, comparison can kill. It can kill your will, your determination, and your self-confidence.
So how do you conquer comparison?
Know who and what you value. When you compare, you are in effect weighing your value against the value of someone else. You juxtapose one of God’s masterpieces with another. To conquer comparison, you must believe in your value, a value that exists because you exist. You must know what represents value in your life and measure yourself against the standard you have set. Get quiet, let your soul breathe, and identify what represents value in your life, then make your own goals your benchmarks.
Be sure not to minimize things that matter to you in light of things that seem to matter to others. If it brings you joy to make quilts, don’t let someone who makes designer clothes for a living make you feel crazy about the endeavor that brings you delight.
If someone loves New York City but you can’t get enough of life on the ranch, no matter. Sit on the porch and watch your man wrangle cattle. The Pioneer Woman does just that. Lean into your life with your whole heart. Home is where the heart is anyway.
Practice gratitude. Gratitude is the practice of being thankful and showing appreciation. When you focus on what’s right in your world, you limit the power of what’s wrong to steal your joy. The more you see what’s beautiful in your life, the less what’s outside your life will matter.
Take the energy and emotion you would spend thinking about what other people have or are doing, and instead spend that time and energy being grateful for what you have and can do today. Gratitude for your own circumstances and accomplishments also frees you to appreciate the accomplishments of others.
Give grace to yourself and encouragement to others. Whenever you find yourself in the comparison trap, give yourself grace. No one has it all together all of the time. Give yourself a break. Don’t be your worst enemy. Be your best friend. What would you tell a friend who is in the middle of the struggle? Tell yourself the same thing. Out loud if you have to. Who cares whether anyone thinks you’re crazy if talking out loud to yourself helps keep you sane?
Give encouragement to others when you find yourself feeling the most in knots. Giving of any kind builds your self-esteem because it puts you in a proactive position instead of a reactive one. A compliment paid to someone else can have the effect of freeing you.
Pay attention. Pay attention to those moments and situations when you tend to compare yourself with others. Comparison is a habit. That means you can choose not to practice it. Learn to recognize the feelings or thoughts that accompany the habit, and be ready to conquer the comparison that threatens to steal your joy.
The problem is many of us don’t even know we’re practicing the habit of comparison. That’s why it’s so important to take notice of when you do. When you feel the emotions of jealousy, envy, or insecurity rising up, immediately practice new habits—remembering your value, finding something to be grateful for, giving yourself grace to run at your pace, giving a compliment or encouraging word to another (even if you have to force the words to come out of your mouth).
Live intentionally. Let’s be honest for a second. Sometimes we struggle with comparison because we see in someone else’s life what we could have had in our own had we lived with more diligence, focus, or discipline. We want what someone else has, but we haven’t been willing to do what it takes to get it or keep it. We want someone else’s product but may not have been willing to go through the process to get it.
When you find yourself comparing for that reason, don’t settle for ruminating over what someone else has achieved or regret what you could have had. Be willing to coach yourself. Be intentional about learning and maintaining the attitudes and actions that will get you where you want to go, and move from where you are now to where you think you could have been. Never waste time sulking when you can spend that time in activities that can improve your situation.
Focus on an audience of one. Take the time to figure out what the girl in you desires and what God desires for her too. Act as if only one standing ovation matters for the way you live your life.
God will not ask you about how you lived in comparison with other people. He will only want to know that you did what you could with what you had, trusting Him for the process of progress and the answer only He can provide.
Listen, my friend. We don’t all run the same pace. We don’t all run in the same race. The art of running your race well starts with the recognition that you are running your race. In that knowledge there is freedom. There is no one like you, either in years gone by or in years to come, who will have your exact stride, path, scenery, or destination.
Stop letting where other people are in their run determine how you feel about your own.
Run your race.
Choose freedom by celebrating your journey, your pace, your finish line.
Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, but never give up.
Chrystal Evans Hurst is a dynamic speaker, worship leader, and writer with a clear message for women: God has big plans for the unique gifts he gave you. Through her blog, Chrystal's Chronicles, regular contributions to Proverbs 31 Ministries, a thriving social media platform, and conferences across the country, Chrystal reaches hundreds of thousands of women with honest stories and fierce encouragement. Co-author or the bestselling Kingdom Woman with her father, the beloved Dr. Tony Evans, she will publish her anticipated new book She's Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You in August 2017. A mom to five, Chrystal lives just outside of Dallas, Texas, with her husband Jessie. For more information, please visit www.ChrystalEvansHurst.c