5 Ways to Avoid the Comparison Trap
Ugly. Not enough. Fat. Unhealthy. Failure. All of these words have gone through my mind at one point or another. I’m sure many of you can relate. For some of us, we can easily dismiss these words. For others, we have a difficult time drowning out the destructive noise that tears us down and makes us feel like less than we are, and we let those words and phrases become a way of thinking. A reality.
Something I have been working on for quite some time is letting go of comparison. Comparing myself to people I know in person, people I know on social media, and people I don’t even know. These five ways I aim to avoid the comparison trap have given me freedom–freedom from what and who I think I’m supposed to be, freedom from feeling like a failure, and freedom from the lie that I am not enough.
1. Delete unhealthy Instagram accounts: I have loved instagram since the day I joined. Over time, I started finding inspirational fitness fanatics. I wanted some motivation to help me stay on track with my health and fitness goals. I started to notice that many of the accounts I followed made me feel really crappy about myself, about my body, and about my (lack of) fitness progress. Some of these accounts were sending the message: “If you don’t work out EVERY SINGLE DAY, you are a FAILURE! There are NO EXCUSES,” (Yes, all-caps because it feels like they’re shouting.) Who needs that kind of ridicule from people you don’t even know?
2. Keep a gratitude journal: When my focus is on what I do have, and what I’ve been blessed with, my perspective shifts from comparison to contentment. I feel grateful for the simple, everyday blessings, along with the immense ones.
3. Don’t look at magazines at the check-out lanes at the grocery store: Call me crazy or call me extreme. I used to look at magazine covers and see celebrities with flawless features and think that I was ugly and would never measure up. After I got married, this comparison grew stronger and more fierce. I would think that my husband would be disappointed in me because I could not match the flawless beauty of the magazine cover faces and bodies. Ca-razy, right? My personal choice to ignore the magazine covers has helped me avoid the temptation to compare myself to the photoshopped, air-brushed, distorted images of a fake plastic world.
4. See the best in my people: When I see the best in my friends, colleagues, and family, I experience genuine happiness for them. When I start to compare myself to those closest to me, it is easy to treat our relationship like a competition.
5. Limit my time on social media: Waiting at a stop light. Riding in the passenger seat. Sitting on my couch during a commercial. Eating dinner. Filling down time with social media can be excessive. If I’m not careful, I fill every single moment of my day with stuff, including social media. I need rest and silence and solitude. I need time to be still and just think. I need to simply experience the moment. Filling those quiet moments with social media all the time has proven to be unhealthy for me. It has been challenging to pause and take a break from social media, sometimes for an entire day or weekend, but I have definitely experienced the healthy benefits.
Thanks for reading my thoughts about the comparison trap. I am continuously working on all five of these practices in order to grow more content and grateful so that I can be the best version of me. I love this quote by Brené Brown:
Letting go of comparison is not a to-do list item. For most of us, it’s something that requires constant awareness. It’s so easy to take our eyes off our path to check what others are doing and if they’re ahead or behind us. Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared. And, without comparison, concepts like ahead or behind or best or worse lose their meaning. -Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
What about you? Which one of these hits close to home? What can you work on to help you let go of comparison and find contentment?
Love, Ali xo
I'm Ali. I write about my journey of living a full and healthy life with food allergies, overcoming the comparison trap, and cultivating authenticity.