Quotes on Comparisons

There has never been anyone exactly like you.  There never will be.  Never will anyone possess your special individuality and your particular possibilities.  In light of these facts, one of the least profitable things we can do is to compare ourselves with others.  Generally, when we make such comparisons, we match our weaknesses against the most prominent talents and virtues of those we admire or envy.  No one comes out well in this useless game.  Its effects can be devastating. — Elder Dean L. Larsen, “The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom,” BYU Speeches of the Year, 1985, p. 73

May I expand this counsel to make it a full family matter.  We must be so careful in speaking to a child.  What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself.  But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God.  Be constructive in your comments to a child – always.  Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely.  You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget – and to forgive.  And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it.  You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty.  Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough.”

In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves.  We see our own faults, we speak – or at least think – critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything.  No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Tongue of Angels,” Ensign, April 2007