Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Letting Go of Comparison by Ian Acheson

Do you know someone who appears to have it all together in a way that makes you wonder why you can't be like that? Today, Ian Acheson gives us some tips about dealing with envy. -- Sandy

Ian: One of the benefits of social media is we can get an insiders view of authors we admire. They will often share a lot about their writing routine. Many times I’ve marveled at some authors incredible ability to produce. Somehow between doing another job, managing their household commitments, being an engaged spouse, parent and friend, they’re able to pump out thousands of words every day.

I’m in awe.

Sometimes (well more frequently than I really would care to admit) the nagging green beast of envy rises up within my heart. It’s a similar feeling that may strike me when a friend appears to have everything worked out and their life appears to be a bed of roses.


Arrgh. Yes, I think we can all relate to it.

As the annual book award season is about to start in earnest it is very easy to start wondering why others books have received more accolades than ours. Forget accolades, what about the number of reviews such and such has received for their latest work?

“Comparison is all about conformity and competition,” Brene Brown says. “When we compare, we want to be the best or have the best of our group.”1 Even the disciples (and members of their families) struggled with similar impulses. Recall how James and John’s mother asked of Jesus that her sons be seated at his right and left hand. The other disciples were “indignant” at such a request. (Matthew 20: 20-28)

So how do I deal with the green-eyed monster of comparison?

  1. I thank God for the person whose situation has prompted the negative emotions in me. It is amazing what happens when we start being thankful and praising God for the blessings another is experiencing. Something magical happens and those pesky negative emotions subside.
  2. Encourage the other person in some way. You may not know them but these days with so many methods of connecting with people sending a tweet or FB comment usually isn’t too difficult. Once again, this encouragement acts like an anaesthetic to the wound in our heart. 
  3. Get back to my writing project. God has made us to create (yes, all of us) and it’s in using our creativity that we can leave our own small original imprint on the world. No one else can write the story that He has placed in our heart. Yes, it is risky as Erwin McManus states, “We cannot create without risk.”2 But it is only in leaning into the discomfort that comes with risk that we are able to experience the joy from obeying the call that burns within our hearts. The call to create.

Note: 1. The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown, Hazelden 2010 p94-95 2. Article in RELEVANT Magazine,  May/June 2014, titled “Everyone is Creative”, Erwin McManus.

How do you deal with the green-eyed monster of comparison?  


Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. He’s currently busy working on Wrestling with Shadows, the second novel in The Chronicles of the Angelguard. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter