I love games. I come from a very competitive family, so winning has always been important to me. Just ask my husband. I sometimes get super bitter if he beats me in a game (okay, scratch that, I always get bitter if he beats me).
I will never forget when I was visiting him in Springdale, Arkansas early in our dating stage. We went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, and we played the peg board game that they offer customers to play while waiting for their food. I should have known better than to suggest it because, let’s just say, I lost and breakfast wasn’t the most enjoyable after that. Some days I beat my husband, and other days I lose. But the chance of me winning keeps me wanting to play more games. It is gratifying when you win. We can all agree on that, right?
A Game We’re Always Going to Lose
But there is one game we are constantly playing that we are never going to win, and that is the comparison game. So, why do we continue to play this game? Who wants to play a game that tells us “you are going to lose” before we even start?
Social media and marketing are infiltrating our minds, telling us we are are not enough and we should be unhappy with ourselves. But, if you get this product, or buy that service, or focus more on becoming like her, you will be happy.
With the rise of social media, we have been taught how to compare ourselves to each other. We are constantly barraged by the highlight reels of people’s lives, and our soul begins to feel restless because our life doesn’t look like the square photo of someone we’re following. (PSA: Real life goes beyond the little pixels that make up these square photos on social media.) Comparing ourselves to others is always a losing battle because we tend to focus on aspects of our life that we are not happy with.
There have been numerous articles and books written about how we can break free from the comparison game. But I want to share with you something I have learned that has personally helped me with comparison—and that is the power of giving a compliment. Get excited, ladies, because I have conducted my own study of this method, and it works!
Comparing ourselves to others is always a losing battle.
I Played (and Lost) the Comparison Game
I recently went to an Arizona Diamondbacks spring training game with a few friends. My day started out innocent; I did my normal routine of working out, doing my Bible study, catching up on some books I have been reading, and following up with messages. It was a good day. My friend reached out to me asking if my husband and I wanted to go to the baseball game. At first, I was hesitant because it was so last minute that I wouldn’t have any time to shower and get ready. But since I was feeling secure and fine showing up in leggings and a flannel with my hairstyle screaming “I don’t care today,” I told my friend we would meet her there.
We walked into the game and headed right toward one of the beverage lines. As we waited in line, I saw from the corner of my eye this girl with beautiful, long, blonde hair. I looked over, and she was gorgeous! Not to mention she was also in casual clothes like me.
Well, what did I immediately do? I started comparing myself in my head to this woman, saying things like, “Ugh, I wish I had gorgeous long hair like that,” and “Why couldn’t I pull off the ‘I didn’t really try, but I still look beautiful look’ without looking like a disgruntled mess myself?” Can anyone else relate to this inner dialogue? Let’s all have an honest moment and agree that we have done this.
How I Used a Compliment to Set Myself Free from Comparison
About 5 minutes passed waiting in line, and I was still in my head comparing myself to this woman I didn’t even know. I was so far deep into self-conscious mode that my husband could see it all over my face. But something happened at that moment that encouraged me to walk over to this woman and compliment her hair. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I just want you to know that you have beautiful hair!”
Creepy? Maybe. Weird? Just a little. But I have to say that that moment of complimenting her set me free from the negative self-talk that was happening inside of my head.
If I had kept my mouth shut, that would’ve meant keeping my mind racing with lies. That is why I believe it is so important to just say how you are feeling in the form of a compliment. Notice though how I didn’t compliment the woman’s hair by questioning my own beauty. I didn’t say, “Wow, you have beautiful hair! I wish I had your hair because my hair is so thin and short.” We need to learn how to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning our own. So make sure when you use the power of a compliment to crush comparison, you are not tearing down your own worth and beauty.
We need to learn how to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning our own.
From that day on, I learned the power of giving a compliment. I know we talk a lot about how giving one can really brighten someone’s day, but I don’t think we talk enough about what the power of a compliment does to the one giving it, especially when it comes to the comparison game. If I hadn’t walked over to that girl to say what I said, chances are I would have been miserable the rest of the game battling those feelings of discontentment and self-consciousness. It would have also affected the time spent with my husband and friends.
There is a release in giving a compliment that sparks a rush of good emotions and feelings. By offering a compliment, you are taking yourself out of the toxic dialogue that may be going on in your mind as you are comparing yourself to somebody else. So, it is time to swap lies for the truth without distorting your own view of yourself.
Let’s Call It Quits on Comparing
I want to end this article by mentioning a little side note. The woman whose hair I complimented, you know the gorgeous, long, beautiful, blonde hair I so desperately desired and envied? Well, it ended up being extensions. The lesson I learned from that is what seems to be a reality, may not even be a reality at all. We need to realize that we don’t see the full picture, we only see the surface.
Friends, let’s call it quits on the comparison game. It is no fun losing, especially when we are wasting time and energy on a game that is a guaranteed loss. So, when comparison starts to creep up in your mind, I hope you’ll remember to crush it with a compliment.
That moment of giving her a compliment set me free from negative self-talk.
Don’t miss this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: How You Can Stop the Struggle with Comparison – 002!