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Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin


“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
                          — Theodore Roosevelt

I have a shirt that I often wear for fun that has this saying on the front: “Jesus loves you, but I am his favorite.” (The truth be told, everyone is his favorite.)  

Along with this, I told my five grandchildren that they were my favorite grandchildren. One of them asked, “Do you have other grandchildren?” I said, “No! but you are my favorite.”

We do live in a world where each of us strives to be “the favorite.” This also needs to be the case in a marriage. Ideally, we want our spouse to believe that he/she is number one in our life—above other people, our job, etc. The question is, how do we show our spouse that they are number one? When a person is treated as worthwhile, they feel worthy of the time and energy.

So many of us are competing with others to be the favorite or number one. So, we are constantly comparing ourselves with others. How do we measure up with others in terms of intelligence, looks, abilities, talents, and success?

When some people see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to particular people, they cannot seem to avoid asking themselves, “Why didn’t that happen to me?” Because we live in a world so full of grades, rankings, scores, and statistics, it is easy to understand why we compare ourselves with others.

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“There will never be anyone
exactly like you.
You were given special gifts
and talents to share with the world,
and even though everybody has
special gifts and talents, nobody
will use theirs quite the same
way you do.”
                                       —Jen Sincero

Here is a question to ponder: To whom do you most frequently compare yourself?

I would like to propose that we use comparison as a motivational tool to improve ourselves. Instead of comparing in a way that leaves us feeling inadequate, let us use comparing in a positive way. We will call this process “Positive Comparisons.” The task is to use the person to whom we compare ourselves as a role model.

If we applied positive comparisons to our lives, what would this look like?

If we admire someone who is kind, generous, and disciplined—someone who personifies other positive traits, we should emulate them, develop those qualities, and integrate them into our lives. Instead of wasting precious time and energy degrading ourselves, why not work on improving ourselves? Putting ourselves down in light of others’ skills and talents is a self-defeating activity.  The challenge is to use positive comparisons to become better people and make the world where we live a better place.

Dr. Austin has decades of experience dealing with relationships. He charges clients on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. His first book, Creating Our Safe Place: Articles on Healthy Relationships, was published in 2004. His second book, Keeping It Safe, was published in 2009 and can be purchased through,, and at the Parrish Book Store in Virginia Beach.  He is also a sought-after speaker at meetings and seminars.

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