Give Yourself A Break: Worrying About A Pandemic Is Enough

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Adapting to a new way of living can be tough – even if it’s temporary. Guest blogger, Anne Poirier shares her top tips for combatting your worst inner critic.

Isn’t it interesting that even in times of needed self-isolation, our inner critic still finds a way to compare ourselves to others? What is that about?

Sure, you may be on yourself about rotating your pajama sets or not washing your hair for the past four days, but when it comes to criticizing ourselves for not doing enough or being productive enough, we can’t help but ask why? What’s the purpose?

We turn to Anne Poirier BS, CSCS, CIEC of Shaping Perspectives for answers! In this blog post, originally posted on the Shaping Perspectives’ blog, Anne shares why we compare ourselves to others and what we can do to break the habit.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others With These 5 Steps

By Anne Poirier BS, CSCS, CIEC

If you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and their lives or their bodies…you’re not alone.

Why are we constantly comparing ourselves to others? 

According to social comparison theory, the drive to compare ourselves to others is part of our basic desire to understand ourselves and our place in the social world. It states that individuals determine their social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others.

Common humanity.

In my most recent experience, I feel it actually becomes a matter of perspective. When we take into account and consider “common humanity” (having common human experiences), it can yield very different results. Comparing ourselves to others can actually promote connection, understanding, and validation rather than feeding feelings of longing, unworthiness, and isolation.

We live in a world where everywhere we look, there are people doing all kinds of things and looking all kinds of ways. We have connected the way people look (along with their selfies and profiles) and their bodies to success, perfection, happiness, and more. What we fail to realize is that it’s also connected to experiences, failures, families, friends, beliefs, behaviors, and so on.

What we see on the outside (and tend to compare ourselves to) includes a whole lot more than just the body, face, hair, etc.

An important question.

So, I ask you, do you truly want to be someone else and live someone else’s life? Have someone else’s thoughts? Someone else’s family? Someone else’s memories, problems, and successes?

I used to think I did, and I would compare myself with everyone. I wanted those thighs, to be as strong as her, as fast as that one over there, to have that job, that house, that friend…

So, I spent 30-40 hours a week, for over 30 years, in gyms and fitness centers consumed in comparing my body to others. Feeling like I could not measure up, feeling not good enough, not strong enough, not thin enough and in turn, pushing, punishing and beating my body up both physically and emotionally…my inner mini-me’s verbal assault was endless.

“Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?”

– Danielle LaPorte

It’s hard to escape it…we’re constantly bombarded with perfect images—sexy, fit, airbrushed bodies in magazines, on billboards, on TV, and in the movies. The exposure is daily, and endless. Can you say Barbie?

Research tells us that comparing yourself to others will decrease your own self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, and overall body image.

On the other hand, feeling comfortable and appreciating the body that you have today can reduce stress, increase joy, and will lead to a life full of more confidence and happiness.

It’s time to accept the wonder and truth of your own body, your own thoughts, to take ownership of your own successes and failures. It’s time to look differently at your thighs and your belly. You are one of a kind. Hating on yourself is like being your own personal bully. Bullying yourself over and over again.

Let me ask you…how is that working for you?

You are the only you and the only one who can play the lead in the story of you.

Step into yourself and play hard as you.

I encourage you to release the comparison of your hair with the woman standing in front of you at the supermarket, the butt of the woman on the treadmill next to you, the perfect triangle the woman next to you in yoga is doing, or perfect selfies your best friend just posted of herself.

Begin the journey of becoming proud of what is yours and take ownership of it.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s time to call a truce on this war we have created within ourselves by starting here:

    1. Become aware of, and avoid your triggers. Unsubscribe from social media feeds that make you feel “less than” or not “good enough”. Seek out feeds that make you feel empowered and confident in how you look. Find and follow Shaping Perspectives on Facebook and Instagram!
    2. Be grateful for what your body can do and the body that you have. Make a list of 10 things that your body CAN DO today and read it every day. Have a look at my post on body neutrality, too.
    3. Begin to talk to yourself with a more neutral and kind tone. One that expresses more self-compassion and respect. Here are 3 tips for more positive self-talk.
    4. Start to appreciate your unique genetic type: tall, short, narrow hips, wide hips, voluptuous torso, thick thighs, small feet etc. You are the only one who has your unique gene pool. Comparing yourself to another is like comparing apples to oranges.
    5. Notice when you begin to compare yourself to others. Remind yourself that other people’s “outsides” can’t be compared to your “insides” and keep in mind that you are the only you.

A Gentle Reminder: We have to remember that this is an unprecedented event. Sure, it’s potential was discussed by professionals in the scientific community and plans were mapped out by governmental and healthcare organizations, but on an individual level, many of us weren’t prepared for this event. With that, we encourage you to offer yourself some serious self-compassion. Operating on a very basic level and doing what you need to do to take care of yourself is absolutely enough!

We’re all feeling the pressure to adapt to a new way of living. Even if this global crisis is short-lived, the impact of this pandemic won’t be temporary. Next time you notice your anxiety spike and your inner critic take over, try out one of Anne’s suggestions.

For more on Anne, check out her story here!

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Photo Credit

Blog photo taken by @canweallgo


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About the Author

Lesley Wayler, MSW

As a Master of Social Work, Lesley Wayler is passionate about helping individuals struggling with disordered eating and body image. She is the granddaughter of our founder Thelma Wayler and has been fortunate enough to grow up with the philosophies taught at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Before pursuing her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, Lesley received a Bachelors of Arts in media communications from Austin College in 2011. She works to combat weight stigma and wants to learn about and contribute to furthering the treatment of binge eating to help individuals suffering from the disorder. She has extensive training in mindfulness, including workshops in mindful eating, self-compassion and stress management.

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