Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others. I know I’m being unfair to myself, and it makes me discouraged. How can I stop?

New Era

Comparing yourself or your situation to someone else’s is essentially a waste of time. It changes nothing and affects your attitude for the worse. And it is a difficult habit to overcome.

The big problem with comparing yourself to someone else is that you usually end up comparing your weaknesses against their strengths. You are too willing to brush aside your strengths as unimportant and concentrate on what you don’t have. In doing this, you are being most unfair to yourself, but it sounds like you already know that.

How do you overcome this bad habit? How do you come to understand your strengths? One reader, Dee Bracebridge from Purcellville, Virginia, had an excellent suggestion: “First make a list of all your good qualities, your talents, and your blessings, like knowing your Father in Heaven knows you and loves you for who you are. If you need help with your list, ask your family, friends, and teachers. You might be surprised to find out what qualities others see in you that you don’t see in yourself.”

Try it. And plan to keep this list to yourself. You may appear to be bragging or asking for compliments if you read your list to others. It is for your own improvement and not something that others need to see.

In making this list, you may find that there are some things missing in your life that you can do something about. You may want to do better in school. Talk to your school counselors or sign up for tutoring sessions. You may want to become a kinder person. Start with your family and friends; then learn how to make others feel comfortable around you. You may want to learn more about the gospel. Be sure to take classes like seminary or institute and talk to your parents, teachers, or leaders who can help you understand the things you are studying.

You will probably have some things in your life you wish were different but are beyond your ability to change. Instead of making yourself miserable, put those things aside and get involved in the good things of your life. In the scriptures the Lord has said, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

In other words, your weaknesses can help you learn the very things you need to learn to return to your Heavenly Father. Have faith that the Lord will make your “weak things become strong.” If you have your patriarchal blessing, read it often to give you a better perspective on your life. If you have not yet received this blessing, talk to your parents and ward or branch leaders about it.

Everyone has lessons they need to learn in this life. You may wish your problems were different, but if you knew everything about the lives of those people you look at with envy, you might find they have problems you wouldn’t want to trade for.

As with every part of your life, your Heavenly Father is there to give comfort and guidance. His love for you knows no comparison.

Readers

I used to be a big one for comparing myself to others until I came across these beautiful words that represent the way the Savior might have put it: “The greatest gift I could give to you is if you could see yourself the way I do.”

Emily Peterson, 17 Lawton, Oklahoma

You have to accept yourself. Don’t forget your Heavenly Father loves you so much, and he knows who you are.

Katalin Györe, 19 Budapest, Hungary

Comparing yourself to others is not entirely a bad habit, rather it is to what and how you compare yourself that is important. I wish that you could compare yourself to the Lord Jesus and our Church leaders by following in their footsteps. You will find courage instead of discouragement.

Maxwell O. Etete, 21 Port Harcourt, Nigeria

How much better or worse we appear to be than others is not how we are judged by Christ. It is how well we are living up to our own divine potential.

Salli Fish, 17 Salt Lake City, Utah

I have a twin sister, and I used to compare myself to her constantly. Then I realized what it was doing to me and asked Heavenly Father to please help me get out of this habit. He answered my prayers by simply telling me that I am a special daughter of God.

Aimee Swenson, 14 Boise, Idaho

If you are trying to compare yourself to others, then you’re depriving yourself of what God has in store for you. Be the best at who you are; then you can gain the knowledge and understanding of your purposes in life.

Jonathan Hafen, 17 Mount Pleasant, Utah

Just remember, everything you have you’ve been given from God, and when you put yourself down, you’re also offending God.

Jenny Ewell, 15 Payson, Utah

[photo] Photography by Welden Andersen

[illustration] Christ’s disciples came to him and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt. 18:1). Teaching them to give up destructive comparisons that lead away from humility, Christ said, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4). (Painting Christ with the Children by Harry Anderson.)