Zero Sum Game
Why is it that, more often then not, we choose to view life through the lens of a zero sum game?
The definition of zero sum game is: “a situation in which one person can win something only by causing another person to lose it.”
You know those moments I'm talking about. When a girl walks into the room looking gorgeous and you kind of hate her for it. Somehow you feel less beautiful because she is beautiful. Or when you see someone on Instagram that gets a new job or a promotion and somehow you feel less accomplished because you haven’t done those things. It’s even become a typical girl thing to say to someone “you look fabulous; I hate you.” How has this become a compliment?
Life isn’t a zero-sum game and we, as women, need to be aware of the way we think about, and talk about, other women. I truly believe that competitiveness and comparison with other women are often the biggest hinderances to higher self-esteem. And this lack of self-esteem starts young. The National Report on the State of Self-Esteem and The Dove Self-Esteem Fund found that 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including in their looks, performance in school, and relationships with family and friends. Another alarming statistic is that 92% of girls would like to change something about the way they look.
Though many variables account for these statistics, I believe that rampant comparison between women and lack of self-esteem make up a huge part of why we start to think the way we do. There are two biblical principles that, if put into practice, can combat and change this outlook on life. We should be focused on two things: comparison and confidence.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” We've all heard this, but how true is it? When you compare yourself to others, especially in the age of social media, you can easily be discouraged. I’ve heard someone say that social media is a highlight reel. This is absolutely true. Let’s be real, I don’t post my crazy lion mane morning hair on my Instagram. I don’t post a photo right after my husband and I have an argument. I don’t post a photo when I’ve been crying all afternoon because I’m overwhelmed.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…"
I read a commentary that states that every Christ-follower must lay aside “everything that hinders” if the faith race is to be run triumphantly. This is not referring to sin. The verse says everything that hinders and sin. There are so many weights in our lives that hinder us when we don’t look unto Jesus. Jesus has run the race before us, and he is the example of how the race is to be run. When we don’t believe we measure up or that one woman’s success means our failure we are hindering ourselves from looking UNTO Jesus. If we were focused on Jesus, then we would see life through His lens.
Next, be confident in yourself. There was a time in my life right after I graduated high school that I had extremely low self-confidence. Nothing about me was ever enough, I laughed it off by saying I was just a perfectionist - but then I realized it was an extremely sad way to live. So I started doing something that changed my life. I started speaking into my own life. Even if you don’t believe it, say it. Stop telling yourself you aren’t pretty enough, you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t talented enough. Sooner or later, whatever you tell yourself you will start to believe. Why not tell yourself the good stuff, even if you don’t believe it yet? God created you. Who he created you to be is enough, so stop telling Him that it isn’t. If you start striving to be more like Jesus, I truly believe that you will start to see yourself as He sees you.
1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” If reading that doesn't make you feel special than I don’t know what will. The Lord created you as his masterpiece. Of all the beauty on earth, we are his prized creation. Think of the beauty in the sunrise coming over the mountain peak; think of the beauty of the cerulean ocean lapping onto a white sandy beach; think of the beauty of a field as far as the eye can see of tulips and realize that you are considered by God to be more beautiful than any of those things.
Somehow the enemy has made it his mission to make us think we aren’t special. That we are sub-par - but we aren’t. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Beauty is not a zero-sum game. Success is not a zero-sum game. Life is not a zero-sum game. We are God’s masterpiece: beautiful, talented, successful women. There is not a finite amount of beauty or success in this world, and if one person achieves something it does not mean another fails.
Psalms 139:14 says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I know that full well.” It says I PRAISE YOU. Let us become women who praise God for making us unique beautiful beings. Let us become women who KNOW THAT FULL WELL. Women who look at ourselves in the mirror and even if we don’t believe it yet, say it. Women who look at other women and are overjoyed for their success, talents, and beauty.