One of the greatest challenges for me to overcome has been the habit of comparison. From my life, my level of busyness, my body, and my health. To my eating habits, my movement routines, and even my recovery. I have compared myself to those around me as a way to figure out my worth. It is part of what kept me bound up in ED chains for many years.
Comparison is a natural mental process we all do, and sometimes it can be okay or helpful. But more often than not it only takes us down a bad road. I have to fight the urge to live by society’s standards or ED’s standards or my own mixed-up version of the two. Instead I have to choose my own voice and my own definition of joy. Then I am choosing true healing and renewal.
Here are a few ways I have learned to change the script and combat comparison:
1. Don’t forget that everyone else has their own story.
When I find myself stuck in comparison regarding my body, eating, or movement habits with someone else, I try to remember that yes, there are no standards. And also: they have their own journey. Maybe they struggle with ED, too. Or maybe they have medical problems I can’t see. Perhaps they aren’t even happy with the life they’re living. The point is:
Everyone has their own story and I do not know someone else’s based on how I see them.
Just remember all that is beneath the surface of who you are and what you’re going through. And try to adjust your lens for that much grace and complexity for others. Everyone has their own reasons why they do certain things. Who am I to judge them when I don’t know their whole story or understand why they do what they do? Even more importantly, why should their choices be my choices when my story is different?
2. Don’t strive for a new standard.
The goal of recovery is not to have a new body, a new standard of perfection that I can then feel proud of. If I’m not careful, I can find myself looking at pictures of “healthy” or I assume recovered individuals, and think, “I could look like that when I recover, or I should look like that.” One, I don’t want to focus on external appearances. But, I also shouldn’t strive to look like someone else.
My body has its own happy place of healing and restoration. This will take time.
It’s not something that someone else “got right” and now I need to get there, too. I’m going to be who I am. That is nothing more or nothing less than anyone else.
Recovery is not about looking a certain way. It’s about being who you are and living life to the fullest without ED living your life for you. No standard you strive to meet will ever satisfy you if that’s how you define success. Or where you get your sense of self worth from.
We have to trust our bodies and be comfortable with how we look if it means we find joy, life, and freedom!
3. Don’t compare yourself to yourself.
One of the hardest things for me is feeling like I have to meet up to the “standards” that I set for myself throughout the years. Or even just yesterday. Often I think, “Well, I spent this much time being active yesterday, so I have to do that today.” I think back to the way my body looked in high school, and assume everyone expects me to keep looking like that. Those are lies, and they are exhausting. Let go of finding a comfortable, safe status quo of control in your life to “maintain” the rest of your days.
Often we like to keep the same routines and structures and live in the ED lies. They may have helped us cope at one point, but really those “safe” ways of being are tearing us apart. You don’t have to be who you were yesterday.
And as I’m fighting in recovery I know that I cannot be who I was yesterday if I want my life to truly change for the better.
You are who you are in different seasons. There is no point in your life when everything you are doing–eating, moving your body, mental health work, spiritual practices, relational connections–is exactly what it should be forever after. We have to learn to adapt and be okay with being students of life. Always learning, always growing. We are dynamic. We are made for change. Be present each day. Live that season to the fullest. And don’t worry about how it compares to the past or the future.
I know full well that the road of recovery is hard, friends. Really hard. It’s a road I’ve walked for many years.
However, I have found tremendous healing and release by changing the script around comparison.
No one else can live your life like you can. It’s time to choose YOU, not ED, not anyone else. Only you can fully embody all the beauty of your life, both in the sorrows and the joys.