“Never settle” is kind of something that has fuelled the past 3 years for me. I don’t like sitting still, and a moment spent alone doing “nothing” is my absolute worst nightmare. I, like many other fitness enthusiasts (yes, I did just allow myself that label), are definitely the go-getters who constantly seek improvement.
In theory, there isn’t anything wrong with that. Wanting to learn more, earn more, lift more.. (eat more?).. is actually bloody fantastic. At the end of the day, none of us are perfect and we’re all works in progress, but the moment your projections of an “ideal self” start impacting your confidence in current you, it’s important to take a step back.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this as of late because I’ve found myself trapped in a bit of a negative mindset. The curse of comparison on social media (yep, Instagram in particular) has left me feeling like my progress is actually non-existent.
We all have triggers that cause our confidence to spiral downhill and Instagram can often be a big culprit.
I’m sure I’m not alone in sitting at home scrolling through thinking
“wow, she’s engaged already – why am I not in a serious relationship”
or “wow, she is so toned, why can’t I reduce my body fat that much”
or “wow, she’s squatting so heavy, I can only do half that”
or “wow, she’s been promoted again, why am I still in the same job”
This leads me to forget about all the progress that I HAVE made, and it actually stops me from working towards my goals because I spend so long sitting there in self-pity and the comparison state of mind for far longer than I’d like to admit.
So, I’ve decided to put together a list to help myself as much as anyone reading.
1. Change what you can, let go of what you can’t.
Every time we are met with negative emotions we have a choice. We can do something about it, or let it go. Some things aren’t within our power to change – i.e. some people are born into money and affordability is never questionable for them, some people have naturally symmetrical faces which make them look more “conventionally” pretty. There isn’t much we can do about that. If it IS something within our power to change well then… let’s get cracking! But instead of dwelling on the things that we can’t change start practising number two…
2. Practise gratitude.
Keep a list and try to add to this every single day. This might be grateful that you were able to get a good lunch break, grateful that you had that long phone call with your best friend you’ve not spoken to in ages, grateful that the commute was easier than normal, grateful that you got through everything on your to do list at work. There are so many things that we ARE blessed with, and this is often clouded by the things we “don’t” have.
3. Compete with yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to the person next to you in the gym, ask yourself instead whether you’re fitter than you were this time last year.
Don’t compare your salary with your friends, ask yourself instead whether you enjoy the work that you do.
Don’t compare your Instagram followers with an influencer, ask yourself whether the interaction you get using social media brings you joy.
4. Is it even important to you?
It can do us good to remember that what is important to some people, isn’t all that important to other people. I have a lot of friends who are really high achievers, and amongst those are some that work in the financial industry. I often start to compare my knowledge to theirs and feel so inadequately uninformed about the state of our economy and “important stuff” that goes on in financial markets. But if I question myself on whether it’s important to me… the answer is a resounding “no”. What is important to some people isn’t important to others, and that’s ok. I am very much into fitness and blogging, whilst others may see this as a waste of time. It doesn’t mean my hobbies are inadequate, they’re just different.
5. It’s a waste of time.
Social media in many respects is a waste of time anyway (but hey, we love it, so let’s not go there). But genuinely… every moment you spend scrolling through Facebook or Instagram wishing you had what they had, is a moment you could have been spending working on yourself and getting yourself closer to where you want to be. So perhaps the next time you sit looking at the abs of a fitness celebrity, get on the floor instead and do a 90 second plank. Easier said than done, but you catch my drift.
6. Real life matters.
If you find yourself spending far too long on Facebook or Instagram, try to take yourself away to focus on the stuff that matters – real life. When you direct your attention to the real world you have less time to spend on meaningless comparisons. Whether this is just calling your mum for a chat, or writing, or reading, or hitting the gym (yes, these are personal examples), I find I can centre myself a little more than I would’ve done by staying online. Basically, just immerse yourself in activities that leave you feeling better for having engaged in them (note: Facebook stalking rarely leaves us feeling good).
7. Use people as Inspiration not Competitors.
At the end of the day, it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others. To a certain extent it can be healthy because it can help us identify areas in our lives that we wish to improve. In order for it to be a positive experience it’s worth noting that these people are just “role models” not a standard that we absolutely have to reach. Use these people as inspiration to try harder and go further. Ask yourself how you might be able to learn from these people. Even seek their help if possible.
So what are you waiting for? Get off your phone and do some sit ups 😉