You have most likely heard that comparing yourself to others is something that is going to steal your confidence and happiness. But it is hard to avoid comparison because social media puts everyone’s highlight reel, front and center.
Comparison keeps you from being able to see your strengths and it keeps you distracted from enjoying the moment.
When you compare yourself to someone else you become filled with anxiety, self-doubt, insecurity, and obsessions about food and your body, especially if you struggle with an eating disorder, body image, and self-acceptance. Comparison keeps you stuck and focused on thoughts about changing your body, food, and it contributes to depression and anxiety.
Eating disorder thinking causes you to become very competitive. There is this drive to be perfect and your eating disorder gives you a unicorn complex – meaning you are chasing the ideal of a mythical and nonexistent creature. I talk more about how to deal with comparison here.
There are a number of things you can do to help you reduce how much time you spend comparing yourself to others.
- Eliminating social media accounts that make you feel bad.
- When you realize you are comparing yourself to others, ask yourself what other emotions you could be experiencing.
- Then acknowledge and honor those emotions.
- Remember that your journey is different from their journey.
- Evaluate your wins. Think about the things you have overcome, the things you have accomplished, and the things you are able to do well.
Perhaps you understand how comparing yourself to others is hurtful and you feel that you are able to manage the feelings this causes. What is more challenging about comparing yourself to others is comparing yourself, to yourself.
I hear this a lot from the people that I work with in my online coaching and eating disorder therapy practice. You may look at old pictures of yourself or you may compare your past to your current situation. Comparing yourself to yourself causes shame because you feel stuck. You feel set back and worry about the challenges you perceive you need to overcome.
If you are feeling overwhelmed about your past and struggling with comparing yourself to an older version of yourself first practice self compassion.
Forgive yourself for any mistakes you feel you have made. You make the best decisions you can in the moment – even if it doesn’t feel like the best decision. You choose coping skills in your past to help you manage emotional upset, and by practicing self-compassion you allow yourself forgiveness and grace to have made mistakes. Understand that you are now a more experienced version of yourself so the decisions you make today are different than the decisions you may have made at a different time.
Let’s say you see body changes in the present moment compared to a past version of yourself.
This is likely going to cause discomfort, anger, anxiety, and frustration. Once you practice self-compassion, next consider your current emotional state. If you are feeling anxious you are likely using your body image as a way to help you cope with the emotional upset.
When you find you are comparing yourself to yourself try a little compare and contrast.
Ask yourself what was going on in your life previously? Were you happy and healthy? If so, what was working for you then? Return to those basics. If you were unhappy and sick with your eating disorder previously remind yourself how miserable and overwhelmed you felt. Then look at how you are able to practice more well-balanced behaviors now. Evaluate how your eating disorder limited you in your past and consider all the things you are free to do without disordered eating thoughts and behaviors now.
Comparing yourself to yourself, and others, will cause anxiety, frustration, and overwhelm. Comparison either pulls you to focus on your past, keeps you focused on someone else’s life, or pulls you into the future, all are things you do not have any power to do anything about. You do have the power, in the moment, to focus on doing things that make you happy. Make a list of 5 things that make you smile, bring you joy, and make you feel at peace. For me, it is writing or watching old TV show in my bed with my dogs. These practices help me stay focused in the present moment, help me relax so anxiety is decreased, and help me recharge. Use your list of activities to help you feel better when comparison creeps in.
If you find you are struggling with comparison, it is OK. Practice doing things that keep you grounded in the moment, focused on how you have learned and grown, and helps you feel balanced and happy. If you are wanting support on helping yourself improve your relationship with yourself, improve your self-compassion, and finally overcome obsessing about food and your body, I can help. I offer online recovery coaching to anyone in the world via Skype, and I offer individual counseling for people living in the state of Texas at my practice Texoma Specialty Counseling. Contact me and see if we would be a good fit. If you are wanting a dose of kickass self-esteem, sign up and get my FREE self-esteem training video and worksheet, this also gets you access to my weekly newsletter with extra body acceptance and eating disorder support tips!