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Comparison Is the Thief of Joy: How to Spot It & Stop It

It’s true that comparison is the thief of joy – here's how to spot it and stop it from taking over your mindset.

Mental Health
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In small doses, comparison can be healthy. It can inspire us to set goals that move us forward in our careers, our health, and our home life. But unfortunately, a lot of us tend to overdose on comparison – which ends up making our lives worse. 

Why is comparison the thief of joy? 

The Bible has a lot to tell us about joy, and it all points back to God as the source. Romans 15:13 says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.” 

Only in God is our joy complete, but comparison fights to take our attention from him. When our focus shifts away from God and toward other things that we falsely believe will fill the void, our joy is stolen from us.  

Here’s how to recognize and break thought patterns of comparison in your own life: 

You struggle with negative self-talk. 

In the comparison game, you almost always come up short. Over time, you start to believe that you’re less than others in every way – and your self-talk begins to reflect this. You start saying things to yourself like “I’m not worthy,” “I’m not good enough,” “Good things won’t happen to me.” 

To break this thought pattern, you need to remind yourself that in God’s eyes, you are a masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10 says so, and uses those exact words! 

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. 

Comparison wants you to forget this truth, which is why it’s essential to remind yourself that God created you with a purpose, and he loves you as you are. 

You find yourself asking, “What about me?” 

While negative self-talk tells you that you are undeserving, comparison may have the opposite effect and make you feel entitled to the good things others get: the promotion, the nice car, the big house, etc.  

The antidote to this attitude is patience. Comparison tries to make us forget that “God is working all things out for the good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Your life is not going to play out exactly like someone else’s, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have good things in store for you, too! They just might not look like the good things you see in someone else’s life. 

You compare yourself to others. 

This may sound obvious – You know you struggle with comparison if you compare yourself to others. But it truly is one of the most toxic symptoms of a comparison mindset. 

You know you’re struggling with comparison when you find yourself wishing your life looked more like _________’s. (And if you could readily fill in that blank with someone’s name.) 

You may feel like God’s playing favorites (and you’re not his), but rest assured, he doesn’t play favorites (Romans 2:11). You may need to be honest with yourself – is comparison causing you to throw a pity party? If so, the truth from Romans 2:11 will help to keep your thoughts in check. 

You compare yourself to others on social media. 

Comparing ourselves to other people is harmful enough, but social media adds a whole other layer. At this point, we’re comparing everything we know about our lives to the curated highlight reel of someone else’s. 

Don’t fall for the bluff. Social media only shows us the best parts of other peoples’ lives and often hides the struggles. We don’t know what happens behind closed doors – and there’s a good chance the person’s profile you’re envious of is hiding some pretty deep struggles. (Just like the ones you might be hiding on your own social profile.) 

When your scrolling causes you to fall deeper into comparison, remind yourself of this truth: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  

You base the script for your life on someone else’s. 

Married by age 25, kids by age 28, homeowner by age 30...does that thought pattern sound like yours? Humans are hard-wired to be aware of the status quo, but this instinct can make us vulnerable to believing our lives need to fall in line with everyone else’s timeline. 

The reality is we’re all on our own timeline. When we buy into the lie that we can follow the same pattern and expect the same outcome for our lives as everyone else’s, we set ourselves up for disappointment.  

Suddenly, the things that God may be using to write a powerful story with our lives are things we look at as an inconvenience or a setback. Remember that despite our plans, God is determining our steps (Proverbs 16:9) - and he has you on your unique path for a reason. Find comfort and hope in that truth.

Your trauma is valid. 

It’s time we offered a disclaimer: we’re talking about superficial comparison. The kind that makes us wish we had so-and-so's house or so-and-so's seemingly perfect family. But sometimes, unfortunately, our comparison is driven by heart-wrenching circumstances we never asked for. Things like cancer, infertility, and loss are rarely solved by a simple “Cheer up and be grateful for what you have!” 

But what is still true of your circumstances is that God can and will still do incredible things through your story. In these seasons, it’s crucial to keep going and not give up. Sometimes the biggest blessings are found on the other side of the biggest tragedies – so have faith that God is drafting a powerful story with your life. How might he be preparing to use you for a much greater purpose? 


Comparison can often make us feel like a victim to our circumstances. Spending time focusing on God’s Word is an effective way to take the power away from comparison. Check out this Bible Reading Plan to help you overcome a victim mindset.  


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