2018 was a year full of comparing myself to others. It made me absolutely sick, physically and mentally. I had set so many goals for myself that I didn’t accomplish. Instead, I spent the majority of the year putting myself and my accomplishments down while comparing them to more successful people.
Throughout 2018 (and the entirety of my life) I spent every day comparing myself to others on social media. “They have a bigger influence on people than I do”, “her body is so much better than mine”, “I wish I could spend my life traveling the world like that” are just a few examples.
I realized that if I really wanted those things, it was something that only I could make happen. I would have to be the one to work harder, study more, and stick to a schedule.
Those girls who have such a huge following, their dream body, and travel all around the world…they have worked their butts off to get to where they are. They wake up early and go to bed late. They eat, sleep, and breathe this lifestyle and deserve what they have earned.
I, on the other hand, wanted to only give part-time effort and expect full-time results. It took a while to swallow that pill. I consider myself a hard worker, but blogging and trying to make a name for yourself on Instagram is HARD work. It really makes you question your self-worth if you don’t get the response you wanted.
That’s when I realized…
If I was ever going to “make it” or be content with my life, I had to stop comparing myself to everyone else I knew (or on social media). It took a long time, but I finally was able to stop the comparing. Of course, I still get jealous sometimes, but that’s normal. My self-worth doesn’t depend on what comes across my feed that day. It was seriously one of the hardest and most challenging things I’ve ever done, but the best thing I’ve ever accomplished.
I had to change my way of thinking
If you knew how abusive and severe my mental health was, you would understand why I used to be suicidal. Imagine being in the most emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically abusive relationship you’ve ever seen. Now, multiply that by twenty years. The twist? You are the abuser AND the victim. You can never get away from the abuse, the pain, or the negativity. Comparing myself to others and their success was just another form of abuse I used towards myself. I didn’t just compare, I compared and then belittled and ripped myself apart until I cried myself to sleep every night.
For the first time in my life, I started loving myself and my body. I realized that with my body type (measurements: 35x26x42), there was no way I would ever have the body of a model. This was something I strived to look like since I was six. That’s when I started changing my mindset. I turned to lifting instead of cardio and started eating a lot more protein. EVERYTHING changed. When I started feeding myself a normal amount (and the right types) of food and stopped starving myself, my self-esteem and body image did a complete 180. Now I LOVE being super curvy. I love that I can eat whatever I want, go to the gym 3-4x each week, and be content.
Picking myself apart doesn’t happen anymore, and that is probably the greatest thing to EVER experience. I look in the mirror and I love what I see. All because I had to look at myself realistically and see how I could use what I had to better myself instead of trying to change myself to fit a mold.
I had to let go of anyone toxic in my life, myself included
This was a hard pill for me to swallow. I had to realize that I was the toxic person in my life, and in Trent’s. I would use my self-abusing tendencies to beat myself down and then use him as a scapegoat, blaming him for my pain. That was very difficult for me to accept. I can be very prideful and admitting that I was the one tainting our relationship was devastating to me. You all know how much I love my husband, an unhealthy amount! Once I came to that realization, Trent was there with open and forgiving arms. Never once did he ever hold my lashing out against me. He was there to gently call me out when I started trying to revert back to old ways and to help me cope.
There were also a few toxic friends I had to get rid of this year. They weren’t necessarily bad people, just weren’t good for me anymore. Once I realized that letting go of them would be less painful than keeping them around, it helped me to move on.
Those friends were full of jealousy, negativity, and backhanded comments, which really had an impact on who I thought I was as a person. I felt like I was doing something really wrong, or they wouldn’t say those things about me or to me. That’s when I realized, the ones who are really happy for you and the life you have, they wouldn’t make those comments, cause drama, or have ill feelings towards you.
I had to go on a social media detox (or two)
Ever since I was hospitalized, I have gone on social media detoxes. They are the BEST things ever. So freeing and you get so much more accomplished. Whenever I realize I am comparing myself to other people on social media a little too much, I immediately delete all of my social media accounts off my phone. I keep them off for about a month or so before re-installing them. Usually, when I reinstall them, I have been completely detoxed from them and have no desire to be on them again.
Social media detoxes are one of the best things I’ve ever done for my mental health. I recommend them to all of my clients.
I had to learn to take responsibility
It’s easy to fall into the “woe is me” mindset, especially if you have mental health issues. There were a few times this year where my mental health was worse than I wanted to admit to anyone. That’s when it was really easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and comparison.
I am a firm believer in tough love and had to force myself to realize that no one likes a complainer. I took that to the extreme and refused to say anything negative for fear of it coming off as complaining.
There is a difference though. I could mention a few times how I don’t feel good or that I was having issues with some of my medical conditions. Trent would tell me, “how am I supposed to know that you’re in pain if you don’t let me know?” He’d always tell me that there is a difference between informing and complaining.
To inform someone of something is to let them know what’s going on, but work on trying to fix it. To complain is to constantly talk about the negative things you are experiencing and doing nothing to help yourself.
If you don’t help yourself, no one is going to want to help you. It’s as simple as that. I can say this because I’ve been there and because I’m a therapist. Even if you are suffering from severe mental health, it is still your responsibility to get better. Obviously take it as slow as you need to, but you’re not going to overcome and conquer your mental health unless you take the steps to do so.
I had to take a few trips
A lot of my issues with comparing myself to others came from the lifestyles they were portraying on Instagram. There is nothing more important in the world to Trent and me than traveling. It is a wonderful way to bond with each other, experiences new cultures, and to learn more about life in general. It’s very eye-opening.
I think I struggled with this so much because I was jealous. We had been planning our trip to Europe for three years and things kept getting in the way and we had to keep rescheduling it! With Trent’s job, it’s not always the easiest to pick up and go when we want. Finally, we just screw it, booked it, and didn’t look back!
Even though I was super jealous, it was also motivating to see those posts. They made us work much harder to save and plan our trips.
In reality, Trent and I spent probably 2 out of the 12 months of 2018 traveling. I really can’t be jealous or complain. We made it to Las Vegas, Arizona, Colorado, many weekend trips to Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Illinois, London, Scotland, Austria, Morocco, and France. Completely debt free, might I add!
But for real, finally making it to Europe made the years of dreaming a reality. It showed us just how easy and cheap it can be to travel around the world if you do it right. Being able to finally attain this goal of ours made it easier to stop comparing and instead start appreciating how hard others work to travel for a living.
I had to find what made me truly happy
This one is cheesy but important. I had to focus this year on what made me happy in life. I had to focus on healthy hobbies that were productive and made me feel proud of myself. That’s why I picked up blogging. I love writing and I’m able to help so many people through this blog.
A few other hobbies I started focusing on more were traveling (if I haven’t made that clear enough yet), couponing, cooking/baking, going to the gym, and photography.
Side tangent – couponing is so much fun. I seriously always pay, at a minimum, half price for our cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and toiletries. It’s such a thrill to me! Ha!
Finding things that made me happy helped me to stop obsessing over other people’s lives so much. I used to think, “man, I’d give anything to be like that!” Now I don’t even think twice. I’ve found my happiness through my marriage and my hobbies and it’s been so much easier to stop caring about what everyone else is doing.
I had to put on my blinders
Doing this helped me to focus on me and only me. I stopped focusing on everyone else and what they were doing and became hyper-focused on bettering my life, saving for our trip, and trying to grow my blog. Before I knew it, I wasn’t comparing myself to any of them. We had saved all the money we needed and more. Also, my blog really started taking off! All because I stopped focusing so much on what other people were doing.
My mother always told me that growing up! She always said, “Stop looking at what everyone else is doing! You’ll never get anything accomplished by doing that.” Moms always know best!
I had to just “make it to the next mailbox”
Even though I’m not much of a cardio person, I really liked this analogy. On the rare occasion that I do run, I keep focusing on the next mailbox. I force myself to pass just one more mailbox, and then another, and another. Before I knew it, I’d finished my run!
The importance of this analogy is to not focus on the longterm goal. More importantly, set small goals for yourself before you get discouraged and give up. When trying to complete a large goal, setting checkpoints for yourself and celebrating them is one of the most important things you need to do in order to succeed.
Focusing too much on the bigger picture leads to discouragement and makes it easier to give up. Setting small goals to get to that large goal keeps you more motivated and helps you stay focused.
I had to learn how to let go of control
Learning to let go of control was the hardest thing I’ve had to do since being hospitalized. Kids in my class spent my entire life bullying me. “You can’t sit with us” is something I heard more times than I can count. I ate lunch in the bathroom so many times growing up. I spent my recesses standing alone just outside a group of girls pretending to fit in, while they would just laugh at me instead.
My peers spent all K-12 invalidating and humiliating me. This led to horrible control issues. I was an easy target as a child…glasses, braces, unibrow, zits, etc. But I was nice. People saw me as a pushover, when really I had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone.
It’s easy to build up a wall quickly when your peers see you as an easy target. If you have total control over everything in your life, you won’t get hurt again, right? If only.
I had to teach myself to be vulnerable all over again. Purposely, I opened myself up, shared embarrassing and difficult stories, and let friends hurt me so I could heal. I had to show myself that life isn’t going to be fair, there will always be bad people in the world, and there is nothing you can do about it. The only thing you can control in life is how you react.
It’s a terribly hard lesson to teach yourself. Once you start getting the hang of it though, it becomes easier to enjoy every type of moment in your life. It helps you to let go of old resentments you didn’t even know you had. Because really, letting go of control is going to do nothing but benefit you. Those people who hurt you, they probably don’t know or care.
The biggest lesson I learned from this: those who judge you and make you feel bad or uncomfortable about your successes are the ones who want to be in your shoes the most. It’s simply pure jealousy. Putting you down makes them feel better about themselves. It gives them an excuse to continue living enviously instead of working hard for the type of life you’ve worked tirelessly for. Take it as a compliment and keep moving! Those who have worked hard to achieve what you’re trying to will never undermine you. They know how hard it is to do what you’re doing.
Are you struggling with comparison still? That’s okay! It’s a lifelong change. If not, how did you overcome it? Either way, let me know below in the comments!