I’ve struggled with today’s topic for as long as I remember – and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you have too. I wanted to talk about comparison. For me, comparing was involved in some of my earliest memories – my brother was smarter than me, my sister was a better singer than me. It followed me to junior high – that girl is better at making friends than me, his art is better than mine. Then to high school – she can make friends more easily than me, she’s so much prettier than me….I could keep going with examples but I think you get the point.
Comparison is something we all struggle with at one point or the other and it’s a huge part of the lives of those with eating disorders. When I had an eating disorder it played out like this “She’s eating a salad for lunch, maybe I shouldn’t get a sandwich.” “She’s thinner than I am, I’m not doing this right.” “She worked out for 1 hour, I’ll work out for 2.” “He said he lost xx lbs this month, next month I’ll lose that + 5.” The comparison game almost convinced me that I didn’t deserve to go to eating disorder treatment. “I’m not as thin as her, so I don’t need to be there.” “Their body fat is way lower than mine, I’m not sick enough.”
And sadly, being in recovery did not cure me of this issue. It still plays out like “Their house looks perfectly put together, why can’t mine look that good.” “They make so much more money than me…” “She can lift so much more weight than me, I’m pathetic.” “She’s supposedly in recovery from an ED but still looks super thin, why can’t I?” I’m embarrassed to admit that these are things I still think and battle through but just want to be real with ya’ll. But I don’t think I’m alone.
When we compare ourselves, one of two things happens – 1. We feel superior to someone else because we’ve measured ourselves as “better” than them. We then look down on them, pity them, and feel prideful. 2. More often though, we end up feeling inferior. “I’m not as talented, strong, good looking.” We cut ourselves down, beat ourselves up, and end up envying the other person rather than being thankful for who we are.
OK, so we get that comparison is harmful – but how do we stop something that’s so embedded in our day to day lives?
- Become aware of how often you’re doing it – Notice when you scroll through instagram and feel inferior to that girls post. Notice when you’re in line at the grocery store and are jealous of how the person in front of you looks more put together. Notice when you get mad because that guy is funnier than you are. Don’t berate yourself for having those thoughts, just be aware of what you’re doing.
- Become aware of your blessings and strength – change the path of your thoughts to what you are grateful for in your own life. That you liked your outfit today, that you have money to buy groceries, that he may be funny but you are smart. Mentally take note of what you appreciate about yourself and your life.
- Learn to be okay with imperfections. The people you are comparing yourself to aren’t perfect either – they’ve got struggles and insecurities – they just probably don’t broadcast them so you’re aware of them. No one is perfect – you aren’t either and that’s okay. We’ve all got flaws and annoying quirks and that’s ok because that is real life
The last few are ideas to specifically help those with eating disorders who struggle with comparison
- Focus on how you feel instead of numbers – don’t focus on your weight, (or someone else) your calories, or size. Focus on how nourishing your body makes you feel more energized, helps you sleep better, allows you to spend time with loved ones and remember the joy you feel when you’re health.
- Try to see yourself as God sees you (or through the eyes of someone who loves you) – God does’n’t care about the number on the scale or how many calories you had at breakfast. He cares that you are living for His glory and running hard after Him. He wants you to be joyful through your struggles and know that He sees you as fearfully and wonderfully made – and just because the person you’re comparing yourself to seems wonderful and amazing – that doesn’t detract from the fact that you are too!
“Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” -Romans 12:6 MSG
Do y’all have any helpful tips on how to overcome the comparison trap? Comment below and let me know!