Our world today is full of comparisons. We look on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or even just Google search and see thousands of images that are all different. This, unfortunately, opens up a door for a very negative cycle of comparing ourselves to each and every image that we see. We see the picture of a model and instantly our minds are thinking about whether or not we could actually pull off wearing the clothes that they are wearing, thinking about buying what make-up they have on, or even the product that they are advertising. Other times we start thinking, “How many crunches do I have to do in order to get that body?” or even “How many calories a day to they eat in order to look that good?” Suddenly we start thinking about how terrible our own bodies are and how they don’t look good, feel good, or even feel natural. Sometimes this negative self-talk or self-image tends to compound into even worse behaviors such as binging, purging, or restricting to the point of starvation. Comparison often an insidious thief. It steals joy, meaning, and time from us and replaces it with emptiness, pain, and self-loathing. So how do we take back what this thief steals from us?
First, we accept the things that we cannot change about our bodies, personalities, and our lives as a whole. Like it or not we have things in our lives that we cannot change no matter how much we want to. Our body shape, type, or genetic makeup are all things that are unchangeable. Instead of looking at our bodies as clay to be molded and constantly changed, we have to be willing to look at our bodies as an ally and friend. While we may have love handles, a hormone belly, or even out of shape under arms, it doesn’t mean that our worth is tied to those imperfections. Our self-worth is tied to more than just our looks, or talents, or our abilities. Our worth is tied to the fact that we are unique, wonderfully created human beings alone. We must embrace this fact with all of our hearts and minds in order to find peace within ourselves. Additionally, we must be willing to look at our bodies as the marvels they already are. I don’t know about you, but I find the fact that I’m able to run, walk, jump, or even do a cartwheel absolutely amazing. I also love the fact that I’m able to think, reason, and connect with other human beings. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the body and mind that I have now. I know that the things that I mentioned may seem trite and shallow but let us not take for granted what we are able to do with our minds and bodies as they are. You never know when it might be taken away.
Second, we need to limit our time on social media or the internet if we find ourselves comparing our bodies to the images that we see online. Whenever I log into social media, I find it way too easy to doom scroll but also to get caught up in the endless ads that pop up on my feed. Additionally, the pictures that I see from all the profiles tend to stir a strong sense of “I want to be like them” idea in my mind. That idea can fester and grow over time with more exposure to social media or even the internet in general. The problem with that idea is that it is focused on something that is not based in reality to begin with. How do we know that the pictures we see on our friend’s profiles are even accurate? Do they capture everything that is happening in real life? Do they really have toned bodies or the perfect clothes or do they use a lot of filters? These are all things to take into consideration before we start comparing ourselves to anything or anyone. We also need to ask ourselves is this ideal that we’re seeing on the screen even realistic or healthy to go after. In the world of social media there are many competing ideals that try to draw our attention, but they may send us down a spiral of hatred of ourselves and others in the process. If we find our thought lives turning into a repeat record of self-hatred or hating others, then it is time to take a permanent break from social media.
Third, we have to learn to be satisfied with our own lives and our own selves the way that they are now. Yes, there is always something that we can do in order to help us with improving our lives or ourselves, but at what point does the constant need for self-improvement end or become toxic? Toxic improvement always involves a never-ending focus on what is wrong with us, and constantly trying to obtain results without thinking about any potential negative consequences. An example of this can be seen in over doing it in working out, restricting how much we eat in order to lose weight, or not getting enough sleep due to working too much to achieve a promotion. We can’t always be on a roller coaster of self-improvement to the point where we feel discouraged and completely worthless. Rest and taking our time throughout each stage of life is very important because we learn how to be content with what we have.
Life was not meant to be lived trapped in comparing ourselves to others or even images of others. We were meant to enjoy ourselves as we are and enjoy being around other people. If you find yourself living a life where you are comparing what you have and who you are to what other people have or are a part of, then take a moment to practice gratitude for what you have instead of what you lack.