People tend to compare themselves to others in all aspect of life. Either it’s their career and income levels, relationships, or even how much material stuff someone owns. But since on my website and Youtube channel I help people to overcome eating disorders I want to mostly talk about how to stop comparing your appearance, weight, and size and start focusing on YOU rather than wasting your life by trying to be someone else.
Why we spend so much time comparing?
I think one of the biggest reason we have those huge body images and self-esteem issues in today’s world is because of the social media and media in general. We are always surrounded with all the “perfect” people with “perfect” lives and “perfect” bodies. The more we see it, the more it will brainwash us to think that this is a normal life and this is what everybody should aim for, but in reality, it’s nothing more than a staged act.
Let’s be real – most people on social media only post the highlights of their lives and normally we don’t see their bad days or their flaws and weaknesses. And also, just because someone seems to have an ideal body it doesn’t mean internally they are actually happy or healthy, physically AND mentally. And one of the biggest misconceptions is that lower weight = an automatic happiness with your body. In reality, if someone is dieting to maintain a lower weight then it’s very VERY likely they are actually trapped in the dieting behaviors like calorie counting, always needing to eat clean, being overly worried about their food choices, being obsessed with exercise and also obsessed about their appearance. It’s very likely those people have similar body image issues you have. So, just know that there is always more than meets the eye. You may see the surface but you really don’t know what’s going on underneath, in their head. So please be very aware of that.
Most often we tend to compare our weaknesses to someone else’s strengths and we get so consumed by focusing on what we don’t have…but all the while, this is EXACTLY what will distract us from focusing on all the good stuff we do have and we forget about our positive sides, some things we actually love about ourselves or some things that we are good at.
Focusing on the negative things is just a waste of your time and life, really! I mean, what does it give you? Does it make you feel any better? Nope. So stop focusing on the things you don’t have and start focusing on all the things and all the blessing in your life you can be grateful for. There will always be someone better than you, ALWAYS! So does it mean you can never be happy? Perfectionism is unrealistic and only leads to suffering.
And even people who have reached their “ideal” body but have not learned to fully love themselves first will just pick out the next thing they don’t like about themselves and start focusing on that! The list of things to improve will never end! This is also why many people with eating disorders, who lost the weight, NEVER feel any happier but they just want to keep losing even more and more weight. It never ends! So the weight loss is not a solution, but the real answer here is self-love, to start appreciating and accepting yourself as you are right now!
How to quit the self-comparison and start living your own life.
- Become Aware – Awareness is always the first step to any change in life. If you are not aware of the constant comparing you go through in your mind day after day, how can you change it? So firstly, start to notice the thoughts that go on in your head and anytime you feel bad about yourself by comparing yourself to others just take a step back, observe and acknowledge what’s happening and stop the unhealthy habit continuing in its tracks.
- Avoid Triggers – When you have become aware of the comparing habit notice what things trigger you? Is it your Instagram feed where you follow some people who have those “perfect” bodies you secretly desire? You might be even aware that the pictures are staged or photoshopped or got by perfect lighting and angles but it can still subconsciously trigger you and make you feel bad about yourself. You must unfollow those accounts and do the same with all other accounts and people across social media. Or maybe you have a particular friend who is constantly dieting and obsessing about their body? You need to find a way to protect yourself from these kinds of friends and either talk to them about it or, in some cases, it’s best to stay away from them. You need to focus on YOU and your mental health is a top priority.
- Leave the Perfectionism Trap – You must understand that it’s ok to be flawed. I am not perfect, you are not perfect, NOBODY is perfect! But you need to accept yourself even if you never change yourself and choose to love yourself regardless. Flaws are not necessarily bad because they make you more human, normal, relatable, unique, different and YOU! Leave the perfectionism thinking for good and accept that you will NEVER be perfect but it should not stop you from loving yourself or living your life fully. Accept that it’s OK to suck at something, it’s OK to have unique features, it’s OK to be different. If you spend all of your energy on something you don’t like about yourself and spend most of your time comparing yourself with others it doesn’t really lead you anywhere but serves only as a distraction from living your own life.
- Focus On You – And this brings me to my next point. If you focus on your flaws all the time then guess what? You will just continue to waste your life away! All the time you spend feeling bad about your flaws or weaknesses and comparing yourself to others you could instead focus all this energy to YOU and to improve yourself as a human being. I don’t mean to improve your body by dieting and working out but focus on learning how to love yourself unconditionally. If you spend another year comparing yourself to others you are just giving your precious time and energy away to someone else! But imagine if instead, you focus this one year on learning to love yourself fully and improve your body image, creating this loving relationship with yourself then one year from now you would be a different, much more loving and positive person! So don’t waste any more time on the comparison and start working on loving yourself as you are instead!
- Daily Practice – It doesn’t help to just read one book about self-love and body image or even read this one blog post and think you are done and now you love yourself fully and will not compare yourself with others anymore! No. You got into this trap of self-comparison with a daily practice and over time those thoughts became subconscious – comparing yourself to others became automatic thinking pattern in your brain. Until you didn’t even notice how often you engage in this kind of thinking all the time. But now you have to change it and you can only do it by daily practice. Becoming aware of the comparison, eliminating the triggers and always changing your thought as soon as you realize the comparison is happening in your mind. And every time keep on changing it and repeat, repeat, repeat until THIS is the automatic response from your brain – self-love, and acceptance. Until you have made self-love and acceptance a new normal response from your brain and you have unbrainwashed the constant negativity and comparing habit. So be very consistent with this and only this way you can change this behavior for good.