The Comparison Game Is Like “Chasing The Wind”
Recently I was with a group of fellows and we had a great discussion about what I will call the comparison game. This is the game that most guys play when they look around and compare what they do and what they have with other fellows of similar age. We talked about how easy it is to fall into comparing ourselves with what others do and with what they possess. Hurt, pain envy and jealousy invade as the comparison game becomes personal. Worst of all feelings of being “less than” enters our thoughts as it seems others have accomplished more.
From the discussion based on the book What It Means To Be A Man, it is clear that many males get into the comparison game when it appears others are more “successful” and happier. From the outside, everything looks great but is that really the case? Do we really know what is going on for that person? Do we really know what going on in their lives?
In my experience most men struggle with allowing others in to see their true inner being, what they feel and think, and what is really happening in their lives. Most men hide behind masks.
A few years back I wore masks. Outwardly everything looked good. Great job, great marriage, accomplished kids. And most of it was. Inwardly though, I was facing and dealing with the constant stresses of my job combined with the struggles that hit my family one right after each other. I felt overwhelmed. I felt inadequate because I could not prevent or control these difficult events from unfolding. I could not keep up with the self-imposed expectations, and what I believed were society’s expectations, about what it meant to be a male, a provider, husband and father.
I stubbornly refused to let my true feelings and self be shown. I buried, stuffed and hid the inner fear and turmoil. I was a perfect example of what Peter Scazzero describes as the “iceberg”, where others can see 10% above the surface level of the iceberg. However below the surface, 90% of what is going on remains hidden and unrecognized.
I portrayed a man who seemingly had it “together”. Inside though I was not that person. I was not being authentic and real because I had stuffed my true self. It was not until my family both pressured and encouraged me that I was able to begin stepping out from behind the masks. And once the masks began to come off it allowed the inner 90% of who I am to rise to the surface.
Through experience, reading and discussion, I have come to realize is that most men wear masks largely because we frequently play the comparison game. We use society’s measuring stick of “success” and tend to view our own success through that lens. What we are able to accumulate, the job title we have, and the size of our homes become our measures of “success”. So we begin to get envious, jealous and push ourselves harder to get what the others have, or work harder to get to the top of the ladder not worrying about those who we may hurt or step on as we climb.
The more we compare the more we inwardly respond with, “anger” and “jealousy” (Proverbs 27:4) because, “most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors”, and desire what they have or do, not realizing that, “this too, is meaningless – like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4). The comparison game gets dangerous as it can lead to judging our lives as less than, when in fact your life may not be that at all. You may be just using the wrong measuring stick.
Instead of “chasing the wind” we need to come to grips with the fact that it is not the possessions we accumulate, nor the salary we receive, or the jobs that we have that determines our success or worth. So before we compare our life to other men, we need to first reflect on our own life and check if it agrees with God’s expectations. For true success is measured by God. It is based on how well you use what He has given you and how you extend love and grace to your wife, family, friends, work colleagues, strangers and even your enemies (Matthew 22:37-38). That is what I now believe to be the gauge of success God will measure us by, and therefore the lens through which we need to observe ourselves and our lives.
About Claudio Morelli
Maximizing the strengths and growth of individuals has always been my mission and passion. As a former Superintendent of Schools\CEO I have now transitioned into a season with a renewed mission. Initiating and fanning the flame of men who seriously wish to enhance their presence in the lives of their loved ones is my current passion. I have experienced a lifetime full of trials with much success, with some failures, and with many mistakes. Six decades of life has taught me that the investment and presence in building lasting relationships is critical to a lifetime of fulfillment.