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8 Ways to Avoid “The Comparison Trap”

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I read a study recently that talked about how Facebook makes us lonelier. Essentially, the idea is that at any time, we can log on and check out other people’s photos, status updates and check-ins, and it can make us feel like a loser. Gee, nice, uplifting article, yes? :)

Anyway, it got me to thinking about how as women, we can get caught up in the “comparison trap” looking at other women’s photos, comparing our physique to theirs (and by extension many times, our self-worth to theirs). We do this unknowingly all the time, and then all of a sudden are in panic mode because we aren’t as lean/tight/muscular/ripped/pretty, etc as someone else. Huh? A couple truths about this situation:

1) Your own flaws are always magnified to yourself. You see them, you study them and you cannot see anything outside of them. No one else sees what you see. Believe me, they don’t. In fact, they are probably focusing on how lean and fit you are compared to THEM!

2) You don’t see flaws on others. Chances are that if you feel like you have thick legs, you will focus on the fact that someone else has long, thin legs. You will not pay attention to the fact that you have a smaller waist or chunkier abs. I don’t think pointing out flaws on others is healthy either, but I do believe that we judge ourselves way too harshly.

3) You don’t appreciate your bad-ass-ness. Yes, you! How about your ability to do unassisted pull-ups? Or how you can squat 135 lbs? Or how you ran a half-marathon this year? Why must it be all about your physique? Realize that your body does not define you. In fact, singularly focusing on your BODY, without appreciation for what the body CAN DO, will only leave you disappointed and dissatisfied. Booo! Choose to embrace your awesomeness in this moment instead. I promise you will be happier :)

4) Comparing physiques without consideration of all of the other ways you are worthy is insane. For example, how about taking into account the fact that you have an amazing career doing something you love? How about the fact that you have a beautiful, healthy family? What about being a good friend or wife? How about your intellect? Or your advanced degree? Your physique is one piece of you and it does not define you. Ask yourself, if I stayed the size I am now, would my kids start to hate me? Would I lose my fabulous job? Would my husband magically stop being attracted to me? Would I lose my smarts? Silly to ask, but when you give your power over to your physique, you forget all the other things that make you incredible. Don’t forget!

5) Take into consideration PRIORITIES. If you spent all of your time on nothing else besides your physique, you would have a physique to rival Nicole Wilkins. Because that’s what she does. It is her JOB to have the best physique on earth. Is it yours? You can switch careers anytime, but THAT is the kind of dedication and single-minded focus it takes to have the best physique. And still, even Nicole Wilkins is too muscular for some. She is too soft for others. She is too lean, too hard, too big, too small, etc. Which brings me to my next point, which is…

6) It’s all relative. What is aesthetically pleasing to you is unique. You will always be too hard, too soft, too small, too big, too muscular, not muscular enough for someone else. So, in the end, comparison to others is just a trap where you get to feel bad about yourself because your physique, relatively-speaking, is “worse” than someone else’s physique, relatively-speaking. Right…. :)

7) You will ALWAYS find someone who’s physique is leaner/more ripped/smaller/tighter/harder, etc than yours. Ask yourself, why am I constantly searching for someone who can trump me? What is the point if not to make yourself feel inferior? When you do this, you are searching for some validation that you can never get, because someone will always have something that you consider to be a better “X” than you. You have lost the game before you’ve even started playing.

8] And finally, let’s be honest. People put their very BEST photos on the web. Many shots of fitness models are when they are completely dieted down for a show, and not to mention lighting, tan, dehydration and editing. Remember that on Facebook, you are only seeing the 1% of the time that they are at their best, while you get to see yourself first thing in the morning everyday :) Perspective!!

So what can you compare? Well, I am not a fan of relativity at all, BUT it is unavoidable, so I would suggest comparing your prior self to your current self in a way that is constructive and not negative. If you are heavier now than you were, don’t spiral into negative-town, instead, investigate what you were doing then that worked, what maybe has changed since then, and what pieces of then you can use now. But remember, situations change, what’s important to you changes, circumstances change, you change, people change, etc. Choose to be the best you that you can be RIGHT NOW. And choose happiness RIGHT NOW. It’s literally that easy. And then get your ass to the gym :) ox Jill

Related: Seeing yourself clearly, growth is optional

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