I have a thought. It’s an enormous jumble in my brain right now, so I’m hoping I can word vomit and make something out of this thought in a way that allows for it to make some sense.
I’ve been seeing a huge number (like, weirdly huge) of posts lately about how we should not fall into the comparison trap. Several captions on my Instagram feed sound something like “I’ve been struggling lately with comparing myself to others, …” and then usually reminding readers that we need to not compare ourself to anyone.
I’m just talking about purely physical comparison today.
I’m not sure why I’ve noticed this all of the sudden, but it’s starting to get out of control. Anyway, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the message of not comparing yourself to another human. I completely agree with that. It’s the advice that inevitably follows that has been weighing on my mind lately…
After first stating that lately, they (the poster of the photo + caption) have been falling into the “comparison trap,” then comes, “Do not compare yourself to anyone…but yourself.” You should only compare yourself to yourself, and focus on being better than who you were yesterday. Don’t measure progress based on someone else; rather, measure it based on only yourself. Trash the scale–take pictures and measure your progress that way.
I just don’t know how I feel about that.
I’m starting to believe that we shouldn’t even be comparing ourselves to ourselves.
Focusing on a picture of yourself last week where your abs looked pretty dang good should not be weighing on your mind today when you indulged a bit last night and you can’t see your abs.
Beating yourself up because you could squat 150 pounds last week, and today 120 feels like 300 is not healthy. I don’t even think it’s a healthy replacement for wishing you could squat as much as that girl over there. I think it’s pretty much just as bad.
I think we need to stop comparing our today body to our last week, month or year body and focus all of our efforts and thoughts toward appreciating (maybe even loving) our body every day and not wishing we look like we used to, for a day, when we “thought we looked really lean.”
Saying that we should only be comparing ourself to ourself is just another form of self destruction, in my opinion. I say this because it’s proven to be so in my life. I’ve definitely looked at pictures of myself from last year, heck, even two weeks ago before my surgery since I have been an inactive blob since then, and compared myself to myself.
I’ve thought, “Gosh, I had an 8 pack in that picture. I could barely see 4 today. I want to get back to that. Why can’t I look like that again?”
I’ve thought, “Ugh, my butt and hamstrings were so much bigger when I used to do legs three times a week. Now I have such chicken legs. Why can’t I be as disciplined as I was then?”
I’ve even compared my hair color, length, skin quality, *butt size*, THE LIST GOES ON AND NEVER ENDS…and I’ve made myself feel upset, unworthy, and awful because I don’t look the same anymore.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish it were possible to just not look back and love ourselves with a blind eye to it all. I realize that’s the most unlikely “what-if” statement ever, but it’s just a thought.
I definitely find myself comparing myself to others–all of the time, no question about it. I probably compare myself to someone else physically at least 10 times a day. How horrible is that?! But that doesn’t mean I should replace that comparison with a comparison toward myself…it means I should get over it and just live my life.
Like I said, this is just a jumbled thought and I realize that given the nature of the human brain it’s not likely to instill change in the thought pattern of anyone who reads this. (Esp. those with disordered thinking patterns surrounding food/body image/exercise.) But just let it be food for thought, I suppose.
I don’t want to compare my last month to my today. I still have goals, I still want to work harder and be BETTER than I was last month, but in regards to purely physical comparisons I should not be comparing my current body to anything at all.
Talk to me:
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you think progress photos can be self-destructive?