Lately, I’ve become more conscious of the fact that I tend to place myself a notch above others who – in my opinion – are less intelligent, prioritize things differently than I do, or don’t see things the way I see them.
While some people may compare themselves to their peers and develop inferiority complexes as a result, I have found that when I compare myself to others, I often wind up with a superiority complex.
Competing with “have-it-together” mums
I’ve noticed this tendency in me even concerning the small things in life. For example, I have never been one to keep up with fashion. Even though I like having new clothing, it’s not on the top of my priority list and so I usually just end up wearing clothes that might have been at their peak a few seasons ago. Meanwhile, there are others who often have new things, their children are even in fashion, their homes are modern and tasteful, and they have nice, well-groomed hair. They have the best brands of strollers, they drive nice, new vehicles and go on vacations often.
Observing people who have more than I do might cause inferiority to creep in. Trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” can cause stress and anxiety as well as demands and frustration at not being able to compete with these “have-it-together” mums.
Though I have experienced this, I’ve also experienced the other side of it, which is a superiority complex. Some of the thoughts that might cross my mind are, “How in the world does she have time for that; she must neglect her kids,” or “I’m not as vain and shallow, because I don’t care if I wear the same thing twice in a row to church,” “Why do they buy such expensive clothes for their kids if they’re just going to grow out of them in a few months?” and “What are they trying to prove by posting that on Instagram?” The list goes on and on.
The result of envy
Putting the others down, even if it’s only in my thoughts, is the same thing as elevating myself over others in my mind. And, though this might seem like a natural instinct which is almost subconscious, it’s important to acknowledge that it actually stems from envy. For my own part I experienced that allowing these envious thoughts in was very much like a contagious disease, creating unrest and turmoil in my life which also spread to the lives of those I am closest to.
It is written in James 3:16, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” Envy causes me to compare what I have with someone else and secretly wish that I had what they had, or even wish that I had something better than them so that they would be envious of me. As twisted as it is, feeling like I’m lacking what someone else has can cause me to look down on that person. I can think “Why would they spend money on that?” when in reality, if I had the means, I would have loved to spend my money on that same thing. As it is written in God’s Word, envy is the cause of confusion (instability, restlessness), and is tied to every evil thing.
Keeping my heart pure
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23.
The things I allow into my heart and mind can either create peace and warmth, or a swarm of restless, unhappy and anxious thoughts. By keeping God’s Word, and consciously disagreeing with these negative thoughts, I can keep my heart pure. Then I am no longer held captive by my own opinions, impressions, and feelings and I can see others in a good and blessed light.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3.
If I do just as this verse says, it will save me from the deception of having a high opinion of myself and despising others. Instead of always looking at outward appearances and judging according to those things, I can have a heart that is warm and open. I can learn to bless others and make it as good as possible for them.