I had another blog post written and ready to go for Thursday, then Tuesday morning happened. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, and rolled into the gym with my messy bun and high-waisted leggings on, like I do most mornings. I felt energized and ready to tackle leg day when it hit me; the dreaded feelings of comparison. It was like there were so many tall, beautiful, well-put together women in “perfect” shape just waiting to judge me. Talk about perception! Those buff beauties were knee deep in squats, leg lifts, and ab workouts - probably jamming out to Beyoncé and Lizzo - not a thought of me on their mind. So why was I so concerned about them? I quickly gave myself a pep talk, re-focused, and changed the narrative in my head. I switched from “you aren’t good enough” to “way to get into the gym another morning - get it girl!”. Self-talk is something I have practiced and honed over the years- I’ve found it to carry me through a lot of situations where I become anxious. It’s also an indispensable skill I teach my clients during our sessions. It may feel silly at first, but its clinically proven to be helpful. I finished my workout and found myself to be curious. There’s no way I’m the only one who has ever had these feelings. Why do we compare ourselves so automatically? And what damage does comparison do for our mental health?
I quickly took to social media (ironic since that tends to be the breeding ground for comparison) and asked my followers if they struggle with comparing themselves to others. The response was almost unanimous. So many people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures struggle with comparing. Don’t get me wrong - I believe in healthy competition. It has the ability to bring growth, resilience, drive and passion into our lives. However, societies fixation on having it all while doing it all has many of us trying to live up to unrealistic expectations of what we see on Instagram, reality TV, or even in our own neighborhood. The act of comparing can become habitual leaving damaging effects such as:
- Destructive thoughts
- Lack of healthy relationships
Do you believe that you’ve become fixated on comparing yourself to others? Do you find yourself mindless scrolling and becoming more upset than when you first opened that app? Do you feel you have become fixated or obsessed with how another relationship looks or how someone else’s success came to be? Then it may be time to re-evaluate. The time has come to change that narrative. Here’s a few ways to get started:
Remove that Trigger
Yes that means you might need to go on a social media blackout, but I’m not talking about forever. Give yourself some time to reflect. When does your need to compare happen the most? Is it at work? At family functions? At the gym? By getting down to the trigger of the reaction, it can help you to move past the need to compare by helping you strengthen and bring clarity to the parts of you that are most vulnerable.
Flip the script!
Remember that self-talk I mentioned? Give it a go! Pull out your positive affirmations when you feel yourself start to spiral. Remind yourself that you are enough. You are strong and smart and amazing. Work on changing that negative self-talk to positive accepting words of encouragement.
Make that appointment
There is a high probability that there may be some underlying “stuff” that is causing you to fixate on what others have. This could come in many forms, unhappy or unhealthy relationships, low self-esteem, or anxiety to name a few. Giving yourself space to identify your triggers will help bring these core issues into the light, but how to move past it, build coping skills, and end the desire to fixate on others is a whole separate beast. Seeking therapy will be helpful not only so you don’t have to go through this alone, but to provide you with empathy, validation and another set of skilled eyes to navigate this difficult time.
If you are in NJ, I’d love to help. If you are outside of NJ, or unsure if I’m the right fit, reach out for a free phone consultation or utilize psychologytoday.com to locate an experienced provider in your area. Remember, don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Your journey is unique and special just like you.