What You Need to Know about the Toxicity of Comparison in ED Recovery

comparison in recovery - drawing of two faces with eyes wide, serious expressions

I still battle with constant comparison in recovery. It’s been a threat to my journey and a pitfall of negativity for years. Oftentimes, I find myself comparing to other women, co-workers, other mommas, friends, and family. All of whom I love and all of whom are my tribe on a daily basis.

When I’m having a bad day on the recovery front, my eating disorder is always ready to compare to others. Regardless of who it may be, it is an attempt to break myself down and highlight my weaknesses. Even at a young age, I compared myself to my sisters. Both now highly successful adults, moms, and wives, I still have a hard time not ‘measuring’ myself against the successes they both have! My comparison in recovery isn’t out of jealousy or out of bitterness. It’s simply a bad habit and a way my eating disorder tries to self-deconstruct my self image.

Stop comparison in recovery

The thing we must remind each other of is that everyone has their own insecurities and weaknesses. We only see the best of others on a daily basis. A quote that helps summarize this beautifully for me:

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel – Steven Furtick.

Affirmative! Think of all the beautiful pictures on Instagram. Filters that make the whitest smiles even whiter. Social media in and of itself can be a beautiful resource. It certainly keeps me in touch with friends with who I may have otherwise lost connection. However, social media only magnifies opportunities of seeing the best of the best of those around us. It’s few and far between when posts highlight negative days, bad angles, hardships and struggles.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself comparing on multiple fronts; perhaps you can relate to some of them.

Some ways I’ve engaged in comparison in recovery:


We just recently moved to a new home and aren’t completely unpacked. And we have a toddler and I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy. Yet I criticize myself daily for the boxes that still dominate our garage. When walking around the neighborhood, I peek inside the garages of neighbors, envious of their organized units of standardized and neat Tupperware containers.

My husband stopped me dead in my tracks. There is no rush. There is no deadline. We’ll likely live here for 5,7, or more years and unpacking and reorganizing simply takes time. And then I asked myself…in all honestly…what’ the worst that could happen if our garage remains a disorganized mess for another 5 months? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Let it go!

Working Out:

Being a long-distance runner in recovery has still resulted in bumps to true recovery. I compare myself daily to the momma runner group that constantly bombards my social media feed. Others ran 10 miles, 12 miles, did a killer track work out! I did 2 miles at a very slow pace, frustrated by my growing pregnant belly and discomfort. My wise mind tells me to listen to my body and listen to this baby. But my eating disorder mind still compares, compares, compares. Let it go!


Being a new mom and wife while working full-time has left me feeling inadequate. I feel like I can’t do anything 100%. Like I’m treading water most days; trying to keep my boss pleased while missing my son and feeling guilty that I only get to see him for about 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening. I feel like I’ve missed a lot of his ‘firsts’ and I’m already dreading the same for when baby #2 arrives.

My husband doesn’t get many home-cooked meals and I can’t be the homemaker that I would love to be. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to manage it all! My eating disorder feasts on all of these ‘inadequacies’ and always tries to seep in with comparing here. How does that mom do it all with such grace? In reality, all of us mommas out there are some degree of a hot mess! Some just tend to hide it better than others. So, again, let it go!

In the end, comparison in recovery can be such a destructive inhibitor to true recovery from an eating disorder.

Comparing, perfectionism and black/white thinking are all such common threads of those who deal with eating disorders. When I feel as though I’m simply not ‘good enough’, the comfort of restriction is always there. But the comfort of freedom from restriction and actually ‘feeling’ what I’m feeling is also an option.

After all, the only endeavor on which all of us should focus is being the very best versions of ourselves! There is only one YOU; why not make it the very best you? We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. None of us have it all. You will never be able to be ‘better’ than someone else in all ways possible. And, more importantly, why would you want to be?

I’m going to leave you with one more little nugget of optimism about the art of letting go of comparison in recovery:

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Albert Einstein

Image Source: Flickr

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