Sometimes we are our own worst critics. It’s very painful when you’re hard on yourself. Have you known people who talk out loud to themselves and say things like, “That was so stupid!” “How could you have said that?” and so on. I have known those people and probably at times, in my life, have acted the same way – too hard on myself. Why? Because so many of us look around at others and make comparisons between how they look, act, think, and are succeeding and compare that with ourselves. It’s not God’s heart for you to be so hard on yourself. So, we must find the answer to this question, “How do I stop comparing myself to others?”
Become Aware of Comparing Yourself
The first step in any kind of healing is becoming aware that you need to heal. If you are hard on yourself and often scolding yourself, it’s probably because you ARE looking around at others and comparing yourself to them. They seem to have it altogether and so you feel you are far behind.
I know in my work with people in addiction recovery, many of them are in a rush to get the basic requirements of sobriety done and to get back out – get a job, take some courses, find an apartment. What is making them be in such an all-fired rush? Most likely, they are looking around and feeling others are getting things done more quickly and successfully. They’re already angry at themselves for their failures and lost time. Seeing others making progress makes them anxious that they are going too slow. Comparing ourselves to others is full of pain. So, become aware that you are doing it, if you are, and get determined to stop!
Discover How God Sees You Instead
In a post that I wrote a while ago called “How Does God See Me?” I spoke about two verses that are so uplifting. Here they are:
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 ESV)
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
If you think God sees you as small or nothing or less than others, when you give your heart and loyalty to Him through Christ, you are mistaken. Just these two verses (and there are plenty more) tell us that He sees you as His son or daughter (part of the family) and as part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation if you have received Christ’s forgiveness..
You didn’t do anything to earn that. You don’t HAVE to do anything to earn that. Just trust Him and take Him at His word. To God, you are a great big SOMEBODY SPECIAL.
Forgive Yourself for the Mistakes
Adding to your hardness on yourself may be the memory of all your past mistakes. Sometimes we look at others and think they are so much better than us – have so many fewer reasons to feel guilty.
But, everyone makes mistakes! The Bible is very clear: “…for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NIV) And, “We like sheep have all gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV)
You Will Not Find a Perfect Person
You will not find a perfect person. And people who seem to be relatively more upright may be those struggling with less visible sins – greed or lust, for example. Everyone of us has a “growing edge” for which we need God’s help. Those who have accepted Christ and who are becoming more like Him every day still make mistakes.
In Luke 7:36-50, a story is recorded of a woman who was a notorious sinner. She came to the house of Simon the Pharisee (a religious leader) to anoint the feet of Jesus who was one of the guests there. She knelt at his feet and wept, wiping his feet with fragrant oil and her hair. Jesus took critique because he was kind to this woman. But, he noted that she loved so much more than the seemingly more upright people in the room. Why? Because she had been forgiven so much. Jesus held her in higher honor.
So, don’t compare your mistakes to those of others. Just let yourself be forgiven and believe that you get a clean slate with Jesus, no matter what.
Be Grateful for the Life You Have
And be grateful! It is hard to see your life as being less than that of others, if you are busy giving thanks for it! No matter how hard circumstances may be for you, there is always something about which you can say, “I am so, so grateful for this, God.” Gratitude lifts you up above your troubles.
You are Unique: Don’t Compare Yourself
And, know that there is no one else like you. No one can “do you” like you can! In the book of Jeremiah, God says to this prophet,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV) That is beautiful language and we may think it is only for Jeremiah and people like him. He was a great Old Testament prophet – with a book in the Bible. But, those words are really for each of us. Before we were even formed in the womb, God knew us too. He created us and each one has been created for a purpose. By that, I mean, there is something only you can do in this world.
Compare the Old You Only to the New You
If you’re going to compare anything, compare yourself now to the old you. You’ll be surprised how far you have come, though you may want to go much farther. And if you see progress, even a tiny bit, celebrate! Rejoice and give yourself credit and give God thanks. Don’t you dare be stingy with yourself. If you won’t say it, I will. Great job!
Be Kind to Others: Don’t Compare Them
And finally, we tend to criticize other people when we feel insecure ourselves. So, as you’re working on holding your tongue and not being hard on yourself, work on being gentle on others. We are, hopefully, all growing, all changing. Or, at least, needing to do that. So, go easy on others. Try to find the good in them and praise it.
The Holy Spirit put something in my heart the other day, just this simple thought: “If a kitten scratches, maybe it’s hungry.” And then, I felt the Spirit say, people aren’t much different. Sometimes, on the surface, they are so disagreeable because they are really “hungry” – for love, guidance, resources, a lifting of guilt. There are so many reasons people may be hard to be around. But if we’re kind, we may be the beginning of new life for them.
So, go easy on you, be kind to others. Paul wrote that there were many gifts and the greatest of them is love.1 Corinthians 13:13. Let’s give it to ourselves and to others.
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