028: The Comparison Trap


Episode Description:

Are you satisfied with your life? I mean, really satisfied? Do you see others around you getting the new things that you want? Do you long for a luxurious vacation when you see your friend post a picture of their toes in the sand at some beautiful beach? How about the models in those magazines? Do you wish you were as slim or as fit as them or that your spouse looked like them? All of this roots from a life of discontentment and is only heightened by a culture of comparison. That comparison trap is what we're talking about in this episode — how it leaves us dissatisfied — how it loops us into a cycle of envy and how we need to work hard to overcome it.


Episode Insights:

There's a passage of Scripture that the Lord has really been calling me to meditate on lately and I think it goes hand-in-hand with this discussion. It's Romans 12:2 and I love how the NLT translation puts it.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2

Our minds are going to focus on earthly things — our social status, our possessions, our physical appearance — but the resurrection focuses our minds on love, unity and heavenly things.

My Prayer:

"Lord, remind and convict me not to try and be like everyone else in this world. Make me more like You. Take my mind and untangle all the lies that the enemy has taught me to believe about who I am. Don't let me think upon earthly things, but let my trust and faith be in You, Jesus, and heavenly things. Lord, show me Your will for me because I know it's perfect, good and pleasing. Amen."


Comparison can be so subtle that many of us deny the fact that we actually do it, but can I tell you a secret? And brace yourself for this, but...everyone does it. I know, mind-blowing, right? Those people you're comparing yourself to are comparing themselves to someone else as well.


Pleasing People

There are so many things that can cause us to compare ourselves to others, but there's an important lifestyle that we need to live by daily. Here it is...

If we're looking to please people, then we're not pleasing God.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. - Galatians 1:10


This comparison trap we're talking about is all about feeding our insecurities with the approval of people. Think about that. When we seek others' approval, we're giving our feelings of shortcomings a hit of a drug that'll only give us a temporary fix. This is what happens when we get likes or comments on our social media accounts. It's like taking Tylenol for a brain tumor. It will not fix our feeling of discontentment.


Cultural Influence

A big part of this trap is the result of us being stuck in the grip of culture. Okay, examine your life for a moment. All aspects of our lives (family, work, friendships, even our play) need to be put through this filter.


Every scenario we come up with where you look at someone's life and move to judgment is actually our insecurity and our feeling of inadequacy.


I dare you to prove me wrong on this. The next time you're judging someone else's life, ask yourself, "Why?" Don't take the surface level answer, but dig deeper.


So there are two things we need to be aware of: 1.) Cultures impact on our perception, and 2.) How our insecurities translate that impact. Not to continue harping on the same thing, but we hold our insecurities up against the standard that culture has for us.


Insecurities

Insecurity tells us who we should be like. It tells you that you should be like your friend who hits the gym everyday. It tells you that you should be like that pastor that seems to have his life in place perfectly. It tells you that you should wear that brand or drive that car.


I think culture and insecurity work like a bait-and-switch. Culture lures us into thinking that if we can get these things we'll be part of the elite or happy, but our insecurity swoops in and leaves us dissatisfied.


We must get out of this trap we're in. We have to stop allowing our insecurities to compare us to others. Now's the time to let the Holy Spirit, Who lives within us, compare us to Jesus. When we do that, that's when we see who we're truly meant to be like.


I want to remind us of the passage we read earlier because I think it's so important to the perspective we need to have:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2

The Application:

So what does it take for us to get out of the trap and avoid it in the future? I think it's going to take counter-culture movement — some serious ninja moves.


1. ) To Condemn the World

The first tendency for us is to take this knowledge of the comparison trap and condemn the world for it. We'll think to ourselves, all people who post on social media are bad or that pop culture is sending us down a destructive path. Examination is important, but judgment is not and it surely isn't helpful to our impact on the world as believers.

We should live out the teachings of our leader, Jesus. He says in John 3:17:

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

2. ) Embrace the World

The second tendency we have is to embrace the world. What I mean by this is that we have no regard for how we look at the world and how it actually affects us. So we keep on envying, we keep on judging and we keep comparing ourselves to others. It's basically allowing the world to rule us and dictate the way we think. Once again, let's call to mind that Romans 12:2 passage.


Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2


I know I keep using this passage, but it's the foundation for the work we have to do to fight against this comparison trap. We have to change the way we think, people! We have to change our perspective. How else will we know God's will for us?


3.) Be a Part of Redeeming the World

The only way for us to deal with the comparison trap is to be a part of redeeming the world — to throw off the tendency to condemn or embrace the world.


The more I dig into this stuff, the more I'm brought back to the idea that what changes it all is a heart for other people. Like in our last episode, our natural response is not to be humble. We think of ourselves most of the time, but maybe what could break us free from the comparison trap is humility and vulnerability.


We have to take the pressure off ourselves. God doesn't want us to be miserable. He doesn't want us imprisoned to comparison. He created us uniquely. No person is exactly like you and you aren't exactly like anyone else.

My challenge for us is this — only compare yourself to Jesus.

Remember that the enemy and his work wants us to stay trapped. It wants that trap to sink deeper into our skin and keep us wishing, envying and judging those around us. Jesus has pried the trap open. He pulled our leg out and He says, “Go live a full life.”


9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. - John 10:9-10


Empathize with Others

Empathy levels the playing field for us. It reminds us of that battle we all face. Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding where they are coming from.


Empathy levels the playing field for us. It reminds us of that battle we all face. Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding where they are coming from.


Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! - ‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:15-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬


You don't have to be anything more than who you are right now. - Mister Rogers

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Are you satisfied with your life? I mean really satisfied? Do you see others around you getting new things that you want? Do you long for a luxurious vacation when you see your friends post a picture of their toes in the sand at some beautiful beach? Or how about the models in those magazines or online ads? Do you wish that you were as slim or as fit as them or that your spouse looked like them? All of this routes from a life of discontentment and is only heightened by a culture of comparison. And that comparison trap. That's what we're talking about in this episode, how it leaves us dissatisfied, how it loops us into a cycle of MB and how we need to work hard to overcome it. This is the way to a real and authentic life. So let's get tryin.


As you heard, my name is Aaron Lee and this is let's get trying with Aaron Lee a podcast where we journey together to live real and authentic lives. The only requirement for us on this journey is that we don't give up. That's why we call the podcast. Let's get trying. With that said Welcome to the podcast. I'm humbled that you would take the time to listen. I'm not going to pretend that I'm some expert on all things. But I'm a fellow traveler on this journey. Jesus has brought us together and he's who we're striving to be like before we jump into this week's authentic minute, I would love it if you would consider rating and reviewing the podcast. If you find these episodes helpful, then the best thing you can do is share it with your friends share on Facebook, tag us on Instagram. Doesn't matter how just share it. This would mean a tremendous amount to me. All right, the music is queued up. So let's keep rolling.


All right, as you heard, this is an authentic minute with Aaron. It's a segment where we look at a quote story or, or cultural element and see how it relates to authenticity. In this week's authentic minute, I wanted us to take an internal look at the movie Wreckit. Ralph, I know, I know, you're probably thinking, what in the world does this have to do with authenticity? Well, I'm going to tell you, and actually it has a lot to do with it. For those of you who have never seen the movie, or maybe you need a refresher, the premise of the movie is that Ralph is a villain in this video game, but outside of the game, he just wants to be loved and accepted his internal values and passions, they just don't line up with how people view him externally. So let me ask you this. How many of you feel this way? Your your internal values don't line up with how People may view you on the outside. Now, I'm not saying that you're a villain in a video game. But how many of us feel like people just don't appreciate us or we feel like they don't understand us. And I know I wrestled with this probably daily. And I realized that it can seem petty or selfish, but let's be real. We all want to be loved and valued. And I think we all need to be better about that love and value for one another. So like, Ralph, you may have to go on a journey to fully know your true value. Now, here's the thing, though. You're already valuable to so many people. And that's something I have to tell myself. Often, you're already important to the impact that we have on the world. I may not know you personally, but I know this truth in the eyes of our Father in heaven. You are valued and you are loved. I want to read a passage of scripture for you. It's john 110 three He says, he came into the very world he created. But the world didn't recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted Him, He gave them the right to become children of God. They are reborn, not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. I love that passage because it tells me Hey, you are loved and valued by God. At the end of Wreckit, Ralph Ralph finds that what he does matters, it benefits and helps the community that he's a part of he finds that he is loved and appreciated. Sometimes that journey helps us see a new perspective, a perspective that can I think change everything for us. So let's keep that in mind as we jump into today's topic of the comparison trap, because the reason I felt like this would be a good starting point is because They both go hand in hand with this idea of the comparison trap. So let's jump into that topic.


Clearly, I'm a dad to young boys because we're talking about kids movies. But anyway, I think it's a good example anyway. There's no greater topic, man, I've got to be honest, there's no greater topic that I can relate to in this season of, of my life than this one right here. No one. Even if no one listens to this episode of the podcast, I'm okay with that. Because I desperately need to be reminded that this is not the way that God wants me to live. So ever since I was a kid, I wanted to have what others had to see people acknowledged for their gifts to be acknowledged for their talents, their possessions. It made me so desperate for that same attention and feeling of being wanted. And I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't look at those other podcasts that are out there that are successful in envy so deeply what they have Now unfortunately, I don't always approach these episodes with the right mindset. A lot of times I'm more concerned about how many listens I'll get or how I want to feel, rather than how I can help you as a listener. And, and so I need you to know I'm sorry for that. And I'm trying to be a lot more intentional. Because in this moment, right now, the Lord has convicted my motives. And I think it's important that I don't do this for for the sake of feeling a void in my life, but to do it to help you and I, in this walk. That being said, there's a passage of scripture that the Lord has really been calling me to meditate on lately. And I think it goes so well with this discussion. It's Romans 12. Two, and I love how the NLT translation puts it. I want you to listen to this. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way You think, then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good in pleasing and perfect. Isn't that exactly what we need for the battle that we all have in our minds? Our minds are going to focus on earthly things, our social status, our possessions, our physical appearance, but the resurrection focuses our minds on love, unity and heavenly things. Do you hear me in that it's so important that we, we learn to not hold on to these earthly things. I'm confident that Paul is telling us something that should probably be a daily prayer for us. For me, I've kind of taken that passage of scripture and reframed it into a prayer. And this is what I what I've been praying Lord reminded me and convict me to not and try and be like everyone else in this world. Make me more like you. Take my mind and untangle all the lies that the enemy has taught me to believe about who I am. Don't let me think about On earthly things. Let me trust and have faith in you, Jesus and on heavenly things. Lord, show me your will for me because I know it's perfect, good and pleasing. Amen. And this prayer is becoming my anchor. It's, it's the way I need to refocus my life. And I'll say that comparison can be so subtle for many of us, and and subtle enough that many of us deny the fact that we actually do it. But can I tell you a secret? Now brace yourselves. This is big.


Everyone does it. I know it's mind blowing. Right? Come on. Those people you're comparing yourself to are comparing themselves to someone else as well. I know some people may disagree with me on this, but I honestly don't care. Everyone is insecure about something. And that insecurity leads to a comparison and it's a comparison trap. So why and how does Comparison trap us. Have you ever seen a bear trap. Now these things are super vicious looking and they look like a wide open mouth with razor sharp teeth. Now when a bear or animal step their foot into the center of the trap, the mechanism swiftly closes and it sinks its teeth into the bears leg, and it makes it painful for them to even move. And the thing about traps, though, is they're always going to be hidden underneath the surface. So this animal comes walking through the forest, they're not going to see it, they're going to step on it and they're going to get trapped by it. For us comparison is placed underneath the surface. So when we're walking through life, it's hard for us to actually see the trap. The difference between this kind of trap and the bear trap is oftentimes we don't even realize that we're in it. We make comments of frustration towards others. And all the while we never even acknowledge that our leg just got caught in a trap. Now I believe there are several several reasons why this happens. The first is our desire to please people. There's so many things that can cause us to compare ourselves to others. But there's an important lifestyle, that we need to be willing to live on a daily basis. And here it is. If we're looking to please people, then we're not pleasing God. Want to say that again. If we're looking to please people, then we're not pleasing God. Now, there was a passage of scripture. That was the very first passage that came up when I started kind of researching the idea of this, and it's from Galatians. One and Paul really reiterate this truth. In Galatians. One, he's talking against false teachers of the gospel. But here's what he says. Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. Now this comparison trap we're talking about, is all about feeding our insecure. With approval of people, I mean, think about it. When we seek others approval, we're giving our feelings and shortcomings a hit of drug that will only give us a temporary fix. This is what happens when we get likes or comments on social media accounts. It's like taking Tylenol for a brain tumor, it's not going to fix our tumor. And this drug that we're talking about is not going to fix our discontentment.


The second reason I feel that we get caught in the comparison trap is due to cultural influence. A big part of this trap is the result of us being stuck in the grip of culture. Okay, so examine your life for a moment all aspects of our lives family work, friendship, even play need to be put through this filter. Some of us will see our neighbor's mowing the grass and think why does he mow his grass three times a week? Do you think this comes from a genuine curiosity about why he Moses grass this much? Or do you think it comes from a place where we're actually insecure about our own grass and how often we mow it? Now I'm absolutely not using this illustration because I struggle with this. I mean, Oh, come on. But how about this? We see someone post a picture of their workout at the gym and we think, Wow, it must be nice to have the time and money to go to the gym. Do you ever do that? Of course not. Maybe this judgmental approach comes when we're insecure about our own bodies or our resources. Maybe it comes when the treadmill you bought is covered in dirty clothes and has men for months. Every scenario we come up with, where you look at someone's life and move to judgment is actually our insecurity and feeling of inadequacy. Hear me when I say that, I dare you to prove me wrong on this. The next time you're judging someone else's life, ask yourself why don't take the surface answer, but dig deeper. See, culture tells me my grass needs to be mowed. My insecurity tells me to feel shame for not doing this as often culture tells me I need to have rock hard abs. My insecurity makes me feel shame because I don't work out that often. So here are two things. I think we need to be aware of one, culture has impact on our perception, and to how our insecurities translate that impact. Not to continue harping on this thing, but we need to hold our insecurities up against the standard that culture has for us. That's when we can see that this is false. This is wrong. This is not the way we're supposed to live. Look at those two things, culture and insecurity. And I promise you, it is not the way God intended us to live. Let's spend some time specifically on insecurities. Now. This is a word I use a lot. It's a word that I'm convinced plays a huge part in how we view ourselves and ourselves in the world. I personally think that insecurity also dramatically affects those of us who have anxiety. Now, I want you to hear me Don't take this down. The wrong way. But I do believe that chemical imbalance has a place in why anxiety is so prominent. But I do think that insecurity is the reason anxiety is on the rise. Now that's a podcast for another day.


Insecurity tells us who we should be like. It tells you that you should be like your friend who hits the gym every day. It tells you that you should be like that pastor that seems to have his life so perfect right now. It tells you that you should wear that brand or drive that car. Have you ever heard the term bait and switch? A bait and switch is an illegal marketing tactic where a customer is lowered to make a purchase only to find that the product has been replaced with a more expensive item or additional fees have been tacked on. Now this may be a long shot, but I think culture and insecurity work like a bait and switch. Culture lures us into thinking that if we could get these things will be a part of the elite or will be Happy. But then our insecurities swoops in and leaves us dissatisfied. Let's look at how culture affects this.


Did you know that before the 1900s, a woman who was considered overweight and pale was actually a symbol of beauty? There were women in the early 1900s, who despite being considered obese were considered sex symbols. As for men, being large with extra weight meant you were in a position of wealth and a position of power. This is not how we view things today. I hope you realize that. Well, I'll say that modern medicine has helped us see that there are health concerns when it comes to obesity. We still can't deny how culture dictated what we saw as attractive, and still does open up Instagram and tell me I'm wrong. We must get out of this trap we're in. We have to stop allowing our insecurities to compare us to others. Now's the time to let the Holy Spirit who lives in us as followers of Jesus, compare us to Jesus. When we do that, that's when we see who we're truly meant to be like, now I get it. It's Jesus people, like, everybody wants to be like Jesus, but that's just not attainable. But that's the beauty of grace. As long as we're striving to be like him, he's gonna make it up. He's gonna keep pushing us forward. That's what I love about it. I want to remind us of that passage we read earlier, because I think it's so important to this perspective that we need to have Romans 12 don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. So what's it gonna take for us to get out of the trap and avoid it in the future? I think it's going to take some serious countercultural movement. And it's gonna take some serious ninja moves people. The idea actually really overwhelms me. I know how many times I've tried to not let culture or people affect me. But guess what it still does, I know that I'm going to step out of the studio and you're going to step out of your car, and both of us are going to encounter people and we're going to encounter society, and the influence of culture will come again, and the bait and switch will start all over.


But with that being said, the tendency will be for us to do one of three things, and we need to know what those are. The first one is we could condemn the world. The second one is we could embrace the world. And the third one is we could be a part of redeeming the world. And I want us to talk about these three individually for a moment. The first one to condemn the world. The first tendency for us is to take the knowledge of the comparison trap and we just condemn the whole world for it. think to ourselves all these people who post on social media are bad, or that pop culture is sending us down a destructive path. examination is important, but judgment is not. And it surely isn't helpful to our impact on the world as believers, we should live out the teachings of our leader Jesus. He says in john 317, for God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it through him. The second tendency we have is to embrace the world. And what I mean by this is that we have no regard for how we look at the world and how it actually affects us. So we keep on envying, we keep on judging and we keep comparing ourselves to others. It's basically allowing the world to rule us and dictate the way we think. Once again, let's call the mind that Romans 12 to passage and I know you may be getting tired of this, but this is what it means to meditate. Don't copy the behavior and customs of the world but let God transform you into a new person by Changing the way you think, then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Again, I know I keep using this passage, but it's foundational for the work we have to do against the comparison trap. We have to change the way we think people, we have to change our perspective. How else are we going to know what God's will is for us? The third way, and in my opinion, the only way for us to deal with the comparison trap is to be a part of redeeming the world, to throw off the tendency to condemn and the tendency to embrace. And the more I dig into this stuff, the more I'm brought back to the idea that what changes it all is a heart for people. Like in our last episode, our natural response is not to be humble. We think about ourselves most of the time, but maybe what could break us free from the comparison trap is humility and vulnerability, which we've talked about in our last two episodes. We have to take the pressure off ourselves. God doesn't want us to be miserable. He doesn't want us to be imprisoned to comparison. He created us uniquely. No person is exactly like you and you aren't exactly like anyone else. My challenge for us is this. Only compare yourself to Jesus. Would you be willing to say that with me, only compare yourself to Jesus. Don't look at your co workers family and compare yours to theirs. don't envy the new car Your friend is driving. Don't judge someone because they're passionate about fitness. Instead, compare your life to Jesus. Jesus walked amongst us was tempted in the same ways we are and lay down himself for others. I think that's how we become part of redeeming the world. Remember that the enemy in his work wants us to stay trapped He wants this trap to sink deeper into our skin and keep us wishing, envying and judging those around us. Jesus pried open the trap. He pulled our leg out. And he says, Go live a full life.


John 10:9-10 says I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. As always, I want to give us some practical opportunities to live that life of freedom, or to avoid the trap in the future. I mentioned this earlier, but everyone is fighting the same battle. Some are more in control of the fight, while others are honestly completely oblivious empathy though it levels the playing field. He reminds us of the battle that we all face.


Empathy is putting yourself in someone else's shoes and understanding where they're coming from. So practice this, when someone throws up a political message on social media, empathize with why they are driven by this. It doesn't mean that you agree with them, but it helps you see that they are human, and they have a reason to believe what they believe. The next time your friend does something good in their life, empathize with them and share in the celebration. Or the next time they have a loss in their life, empathize and mourn with them. Another great reminder, from Romans 12 is this. I'm really digging Romans 12 right now, if you didn't know that, it's this. Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep, live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all. That's empathy people. That's how we break Free from the minefield of the comparison trap. Just be you. Sitting on my desk in front of me is a quote from the late great Mr. Rogers. And here's what it says. You don't have to be anything more than who you are right now. Such good stuff that I need to be reminded of daily now's the time for this week's Ask me anything segment a segment where you can you guessed it ask me anything. You can submit your questions by heading over to aarontlee.com, hover over podcast and click Ask me anything. Just fill out the form and if I use your question, I'll give you a shout out on the podcast. This week's asked me anything comes from my friend Ian. His question is How much time do you give yourself each morning to prepare for the day mentally and spiritually? I love this question because it's something that has become really important to me recently. And I love it. So honestly, now I feel like I miss out when I don't do this part of my day. And it is definitely the best one of the best times of my day. So typically I get up around 6am turn my phone completely off, I'll pull out my journaling Bible, which is is phenomenal, by the way. And I will read two chapters in whatever book I'm currently studying. And this allows me to kind of not feel overwhelmed by the content that I'm reading. A lot of times, I feel like if I read a bunch, I don't know that I'm grasping the things I need to grasp. So I love this and then so I'm meditating on this word. And from this time I spend time in prayer, and and possibly reading another book that will help with my spiritual walk and that's about 45 minutes to an hour of my morning and it's the best I love it. And I've never been a morning person. I've always been that guy that's staying up to one to three o'clock in the morning until back In January, and I kind of made some some commitments in my life now I'm not doing this perfect. I will admit that some mornings I don't wake up till late. And, you know, I'm still I'm still human, but I do believe that at least a segment of time in the morning and I love having about 45 minutes to an hour really helps me be prepared to go into my day with the right heart the right mindset. So I strongly encourage you who are listening to do this because it's it's so life giving.


All right before you shut me down, can I ask you to take two minutes to do a couple of things for me, it's always going to take just a couple minutes. The first would be to head over to aarontlee.com, I want you to scroll down to the very bottom of the page and you'll see a forum where you can subscribe to our newsletter. This is by far the best Way to stay connected as well as for me to hear from you. So just fill that out, join the newsletter, and you'll be getting more info. Also, while you're on the website, you can find the show notes for each episode under podcast under the podcast tab. This is the best way to visually see what we've been talking about. And the final thing would be I've already mentioned it but to share rate and review the podcast. This helps me out so much I wish you knew. And it would just really make my day an essential part of living and being authentic comes from us being who we are and not getting caught up in this comparison trap that we talked about today. So as always, my prayer is that this episode has been a good reminder and a challenge for us to live real and be authentic. So let's get tryin.'





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