The Dangers of Comparison

As a trainer, I hear the same story all the time:

“I want to look like (insert name of celebrity here)!”

I’m here to tell you to stop!

While I think it’s ok to have goals, like if you want J.Lo’s booty (who doesn’t, right?), I think comparing or desiring something like that is out of reach. And here’s why: you will NEVER have her booty. Why? Because it’s J.Lo’s, not yours. So when I hear about how someone wants to workout to get her booty and that’s their only goal during their workouts, they will be extremely disappointed in the end because they will never achieve her booty, you will only achieve building muscle in YOUR booty. Am I making any sense?

Now, I’m using a workout example because I’m a trainer, but we have all done it, right? We have all compared ourselves to another person. We have looked at Instagram at a celebrity or fitness “guru” or a friend and said “I want what she has” or “I want to look like her.”

I’m going to tell you all something. Something that’s important to know:

COMPARISON IS A THIEF OF JOY

Once you start comparing yourself to another person or wanting what they have (a physical characteristic or otherwise), you have already started down an unachievable path that will only make you unhappy in the end.

It’s normal to compare. It’s in our nature to do it, so how do we stop it? I’ve included some tips below on how you can work towards stopping the comparison battle and also some insights about what you see online is not always the truth.

1. Do not be ignorant of the use of photoshop, carefully placed clothing/lighting, and angles. I can push my chest forward and stick my booty out to achieve J.Lo’s booty in a picture, but if you met me in real life, you’d immediately know I was lying! Don’t compare yourself to what you see online or even in a Women’s Health magazine anymore. There truly are no natural female fitness & celebrity photos out there anymore.

2. Entire companies are built on the fact that we want things that will elevate us higher on the “social ladder.” Fancy cars, fancy clothes, etc, and by owning these items it will make us somehow “better than than those who don’t own them.” And when we don’t own them, we are viewed as “worse” than those who do.

3. Perfection is never achievable. Again, we desire some “look” or some booty of a celebrity, and they make us think that it’s so easy to achieve. And when we realize it’s not that easy or we can’t achieve it, it leaves us unhappy and robs us of our joy.

 

Comparison does a couple things to us. Sometimes when we compare ourselves to another it can be a motivator to change. Maybe looking at an inspiring fitness “guru” on Facebook will inspire us to start working out. Maybe we see someone who used to be overweight overcome her obstacles and lose a lot of weight. Moving away from fitness for a second, maybe we see someone always doing good in the world and lending a helping hand to those in need, inspiring us to help others and put others first. In these cases, comparison can be good.

The negative aspects of comparison begin when we start pinning our happiness with ourselves on how we compare to others. What if you saw a friend on Facebook that you haven’t talked to in ages all of a sudden lose weight? Or post a picture of a fancy car she got? Or how she always has time for a perfect manicure? Inside of us, jealousy, self-loathing, and insecurity would be released. And are those healthy emotions? Nope. No way. These can lead to constant complaining about herself to not only friends or people that will listen to her, but also to herself while she’s alone. That she isn’t “good enough.”

Bottom line: you do not, and perhaps will never, know the backstory to a Facebook or Instagram post. Without a backstory, you are stuck believing they achieved these things with ease, and you’re left thinking you’re mediocre and “less than.”

It’s not an easy route to stop comparing, because like I said before, it’s just so easy to do so. So maybe the answer isn’t to STOP comparing altogether, but to change the OBJECT of comparison.

Start comparing YOU to YOURSELF. Measure yourself against yourself.

When you catch yourself spiraling down the comparison drain, ask yourself if it’s really important to you to achieve whatever that person has. If it’s something like building a bigger booty or losing weight, use those as a catalyst to start your workout routine. Maybe start incorporating more booty building strength training exercises in your routine than you did previously. And if you want to lose weight, start researching healthy ways to eat a balanced diet and how to get started in exercising.

But the biggest question I want you to ask yourself is this: how far have I come? This question alone gives us great perspective on how much we have achieved (or not) thus far in our journey. So your friend made a million dollars by age 30, or your friend lost 200 pounds just by walking…wish them well, and move on. Their accomplishments bear no weight on you and your achievements.

The biggest thing that I want you all to achieve is to love yourself, and to love everything about yourself. Look at how far you’ve come and embrace that. I’m sure so many of you have achieved what you never thought possible for yourself. So stop looking at others and comparing yourself to them and their achievements. It only serves one purpose, and that is to rob you of the joy and happiness you so badly deserve.

Love yourself and love your progress. You’ve only got one body and one mind, be happy with what you have now, and be extremely proud of how far you’ve come.

-C.P.

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