“Comparison is the thief of joy.”Theodore Roosevelt
This is one of my favorite quotes, and it has been for several years now, but even though I often try to remind myself of this beloved phrase, it doesn’t always work.
Though I’ve struggled with some forms of comparison in my personal life (i.e. feeling like I should’ve been married and/or had kids earlier on; feeling like I don’t relate to other women my age because I’m not a mother yet, etc.), the most crippling form of Comparisonitis I’ve ever experienced was when I started comparing myself to other indie authors who are close to my age and who write books similar to mine.
Comparing myself to other creatives thrust me into a rabbit hole of discontentment for a couple years, and I’m just now, with God’s help, finally stepping back onto a steady foothold and escaping that trench.
How did God help me overcome the worst of Comparisonitis? Let’s go back and retrace those steps.
Step 1) Acknowledge Your Comparison Issue
The thing about Comparisonitis is that you’re often knee-deep in it before you even realize it’s an issue. Satan has a way of sneaking in discontentment day after day, right before your eyes, until one day you snap in frustration.
I’ll be honest about my experience: the main person I began comparing myself to was someone I considered an acquaintance, even friend, on my author platforms. This person was close in age to me, though a few years younger, and we had a few things in common as far as the content and genres of our books goes. This person was also very blessed to have their author career skyrocket within their first couple of years publishing.
So there I was, having been a published author almost twice as long as them, and at the time I was experiencing the worst book sales year I’ve ever had. I didn’t make enough that year to buy a single tank of gas, and yet this person (seemingly, in my eyes) came out of the gate running and made laps upon laps around me with absolutely no hurdles or hardship.
This CRIPPLED my creativity, and faith, for months. Instead of focusing on what God called me to do for the journey He has for me, I tried to mimic this person’s style to see if that would help my own career. When that didn’t work (actually, it just made me feel even worse, because, to me, it proved I was a failure because that “tried and true method” wouldn’t work for me), I was just mad at the world and would continually check this person’s Amazon sales pages, rolling my eyes more each time because their books kept climbing higher and higher up in the sales rankings.
Extremely petty and childish, I know. I’m not proud of it, nor recommend doing that. But that’s what happens when we don’t focus on God and allow Satan to influence us.
Well, around the time that I wrote the chapter for Writing by Faith that deals with comparison, God dealt with me and revealed the issue in my own heart concerning comparison, especially comparing myself to that one person. I strongly remember breaking down in tears the day I started writing that chapter, because I felt like a hypocrite for telling others how vile comparison is while I was combating it myself. The thing is, though, I couldn’t combat it myself, because it was too big of an issue by that point. I had to acknowledge my sin, ask God for forgiveness, surrender the situation over to God, and allow Him to work that out of me.
Step 2) Remove the Temptation to Compare Yourself to Others
After admitting my comparison issue to God, one of the first things I felt He led me to do was block the person I was comparing myself to on social media.
Now, I realize a lot of controversy could come from that. What if they found out? Couldn’t I just have muted their account instead, so the posts wouldn’t appear on my feed? Or some of you may even be thinking, “wow, you’re that jealous that you can’t get over comparison without acting as if this person doesn’t exist?”
To that, I’ll say this: During the worst of the comparison, I was insanely jealous of this other author’s success, and I didn’t block them then, because of the social implications. When God began to work on the jealousy issue, it made sense to block this person for the sole reason that by doing so it would remove the temptation to sin by comparing myself to their social media profiles.
The way I consider it, it’s like an alcoholic when they’re trying to permanently sober up. Instead of having plenty of booze on hand to actively tempt them, they take measures to remove the temptation at all cost. They avoid certain situations, like going out for drinks with friends, so they won’t feel pressured to drink. In regards to the comparison situation, by blocking this person, I am just removing the negative influence. By negative influence, I’m not meaning the author, but the pressure I put on myself as a result of the comparison. Remember, comparison is a personal issue within us that God has to help us heal from, not an issue caused by someone else.
Step 3) Pray for Guidance, and Keep Moving Forward
This last step is one we should do continually. After the temptation has been removed, to combat Comparisonitis on the daily, we need to seek God’s guidance as we move forward. Ask the Holy Spirit to guard your heart from future comparison. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you on writing, editing, and marketing. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you through any rough spots you’re having. Ask God to help you with any feelings of discontent welling up in you, and pray for Him to show you how to be content.
And then, do the work. Move forward with blinders on. Don’t you dare hop on Amazon and try to scope out sales rankings of other authors. Do the work God has called you to do. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling you. They won’t lead you wrong.
Now, will the temptation to compare yourself to others still stir? Um, yeah. I still, constantly, see ads (even on my own books’ sales pages!) for books by the author I compared myself to. There is still a lot of hype for this author’s books on my social media feeds. But I don’t have to let that affect my mindset anymore.
Want to know a secret? I began to see a large uptick in the amount of times I saw this author’s book “out in the wild” (i.e. on the internet) after I blocked the author. What does that tell me? That Satan knows my weakness and that he’ll use it to his advantage any way he can. If you try to rid your life of sin, in any area, Satan has a tendency to shove it back in your face again and again, to remind you of how sinful you are. He wants you to dwell in your sin, not the Redeemer of our sin (Jesus), so he does anything he can to try and trip you up, to make you sin again.
Let me clarify that I’m not meaning that the author’s success is evil or sinful. Again, what I’m meaning is that Satan knows I’ve been jealous of this author before, so he intentionally places bait (i.e. ads, social media posts from readers, etc.) in my line of sight, thinking those old feelings of jealousy will stir up again. This is no fault of the author. This is just another example of Satan’s manipulation.
As Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (KJV).” Satan is the thief. He tries to manipulate what God meant for good (the author’s success) by trying to give it a nefarious purpose (to tempt me). The thing is, now that I’ve surrendered the situation over to God, the Holy Spirit is showing me more and more when Satan is trying to trip me up, and Satan doesn’t get the best of me anymore. I’m wise to his tactics, and I know that God has a better purpose for me, and my time, than Satan does with his trickery.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
I really hope this post made sense. I’m sorry if it didn’t. I tried not to go too personal, but, at the same time, I felt the need to be transparent about what I went through so that, Lord willing, some of you won’t have to go through the same thing. Learn from the mistakes you read about above, and let God lead you. ❤
Have you ever dealt with Comparisonitis? How did you combat it?
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.
2 thoughts on “Steps for Combating Comparisonitis”
This is perfect, Allyson! I definitely battle Comparisonitis and it ebbs and flows over time. Thank you for honestly sharing how you seek to overcome it! You covered the topic really well. As you discussed, I have to pray to be content with the role God gave me. Your analogy of putting on the blinders is very applicable!
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Thank you so much! I’m glad the post was helpful. 🙂
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