There you are, having a great day and all of a sudden it happens: a glamorous mum appears at the school gate looking stunning, green smoothie in hand and luscious hair. Or there’s a celebrity flaunting how she got back to her pre-baby body on Instagram after only a few months!
And it’s not just women who compare themselves to others. Men may spot a slimmer man running ahead at the park. Or a younger bloke at work who boasts how he eats ‘whatever he likes’ and never gains a kilo.
The voice in your head
Your inner critic can be relentless: pointing out all your faults and why others are better than you in every way. You’re left feeling miserable.
But there is a way to stop yourself mentally listing the many reasons others are much better than you and why you pale in comparison.
1) Notice yourself doing it
Often this habit is so ingrained, you don’t always realise it’s happening. Pay attention to the endless chatter in your brain. Be mindful of that critical voice when it pipes up in your head.
There’s a trick you can use to change your thoughts. Say to yourself: “I’m having the thought that she’s better than me.” (Or whatever the thought is.) It’s a detached way of separating yourself from your thoughts. Because you are not your thoughts.
2) Deflect the negative thought
Then, remind yourself that the thought is not true. Sometimes, we believe each thought that pops into our heads. But often, thoughts are wrong. So, don’t linger on silly, unhelpful thoughts. They are not welcome. Thank your brain for sending you that thought and deliberately choose to think something else. Notice how many things around you are lush and green, or the feel of the ground underfoot – anything but the intrusive thought!
It’s a funny technique, but it truly does work. Especially if you keep practicing, you will get better at noticing the thoughts and deflecting them before they get you down.
3) Identify the triggers
Why is it some days you happily stroll around the shops or the beach without comparing yourself to others and getting down in the dumps? Then, on other days, you notice all the people who you think are superior to you in some way. What is the difference? Was there just nobody around that day? Nope. It was you!
Because you were in a good mood, you were focused on getting to work on time or family fun by the waves. By paying attention, you’ll start to notice patterns when you are more likely to compare yourself unfavorably to others. It could be situations such as:
- The scales aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like
- You’ve broken a healthy habit and now you’re regretting it
- You’ve skipped too many exercise sessions this week
- You’re stressed out with work, money or family problems.
If you can see the pattern of ‘comparisons’ before it starts, you can be better prepared. Then if you do go on a family picnic, you can have a chat with yourself before you leave. Your internal monologue may go something like:
“I’m feeling pretty vulnerable today. I’ll probably see some slimmer people around and feel down about myself. But I know how to deflect those thoughts. It doesn’t have to spoil my day.”
Are there triggers you can avoid?
Sometimes social media is the worst! Seeing those amazing photos of people on holidays, enjoying time in the sun or posing perfectly over brunch. We all know those pictures never tell the full story. They’re edited, filtered, and rarely tell you what the lead up to that photo was. Who knows what’s really happening in that person’s life? There is no need to compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlights reel. Remember that social media is just that – a highlight reel. The best bits of a person’s life, perfectly curated for the world to see.
Consider taking a break from social media, check out our blog for tips how.
4) Talk it out
With Jenny Craig, you have a Consultant to help you navigate these mindset challenges. By voicing your comparisons out loud in a safe environment, you may realise how silly they sound. Your Consultant can help you stop worrying about others and focus on yourself and reaching your goals. Keep practicing and you too can achieve a 100% recovery from the dread of comparison.
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