The Comparison Trap
My daughter loves Barbie dolls. When I was growing up most Barbies looked the same: tall, blonde and busty. Today’s Barbies come in many different body types and skin tones, which is so much healthier (and accurate) for our kids to see. It’s amazing to compare and contrast all the different body types and variations of beauty.
Comparisons are natural and can be helpful for improvement. Think of your high school reunion. You are with a group of people of similar age and socio-economic status. Twenty years later people can be completely different from who they were and how they looked back when they were 18 and life was filled with possibilities.
Sometimes people get the raw end of the deal and they have to deal with major tragedies beyond their control. But the bulk of us just have to deal with our life’s choices good or bad. If the person who sat next to you in English Lit is now a billionaire who invented a new app or became a movie star who gets to fly to the Caribbean to do love scenes with Brad Pitt, you can respond in a few ways:
- Be insanely jealous and troll their Twitter account with their bad yearbook picture
- Be happy for them and realize that your life is also good, in a different way unique to you
- Try to learn from their success and see how to apply their knowledge to your life
Trolling is not my thing, but I will confess to being jealous of other people’s successes from time-to-time. Sometimes when I see an acquaintance’s social media feed filled with images of the perfect family, an immaculate house and a fabulous social life I feel sad that I’m not as cool as them. I can’t help but think, “Why does her photo of lettuce get 900 likes while my picture of an entire salad only gets two thumbs up?”
I’m not alone in feeling this way. Studies have linked high usage of social media to depression. That’s when it helps me to go back to reaction #2 above and remind myself that my life is also good, just in a different way. Also, it’s helpful to remind myself that Instagram feeds are just the person’s highlight reel. No one is going to really write that their house is a mess, they are fighting with their sister and their kid lost the big game.
The comparison trap really comes into play with body image. Clients will send me photos of women whose physiques they admire and say, “I want her butt” which is fine for a general guideline, but when it turns into, “I’ll never look as good as her…” how is that helpful? When this happens I’ll remind them of a couple things…
4 Things To Keep In Mind About Comparisons
- Chances are the woman in the picture has been working out for an extended period of time. If you are at the start of your fitness journey it’s not realistic to compare yourself to someone who is in the middle of hers. No one starts at the top, they have to work to get there.
- You will never be someone else’s clone; you can be the best version of yourself. Be better than you were yesterday, that should be competition enough.
- Be inspired! If she can do it so can you! She’s not getting sprinkled with magical pixie dust to make her fit; she’s in the gym consistently and eating clean at home.
- If looking at their feed just makes you feel unworthy, STOP LOOKING AT THEM! Go to the grocery store and look at real people in all their glorious normalcy instead.
Personally, I limit my social media to less than an hour a day and if I start to feel down I search the hashtags #positivevibes or #motivationalquotes to get me in a better frame of mind. Your time is valuable, so only spend it on things that uplift you and challenge you to be better. Leave the jealousy back where it belongs – your old high school yearbook.
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Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, published author, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!
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