Today I want to explore something that has been coming up with clients and in conversations with others. I help my clients recognize unproductive thought processes that work against their goals. Through my own work with therapy I believe, more than ever, that with the help and guidance of others it is easiest to improve ourselves. While I can’t work with each of you one on one, I hope today’s post helps you reevaluate and challenge some of your own thought processes related to your health and wellbeing.
You have heard ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. In the age of social media we know the constant comparison to the lives, bodies, etc of others brings us down and can make us feel pretty bad about ourselves or our circumstances. Most of us are aware of the harm this can do, and hopefully, take measures to avoid that spiral.
However, I have been noticing a different kind of comparison. People comparing their behaviors to others as a way to justify why their behaviors “aren’t that bad.”
I do not and will not shame anyone for their food or lifestyle choices. It is a choice. However, when you are actively trying to take better care of yourself, improve your health, support your goals through eating more nutritious foods and moving your body, comparing your habits to someone’s ‘worse’ habits in order to justify your inaction or misaligned choices is NOT HELPFUL.
I see more and more people using this sort of comparison to make themselves feel better about not doing the things they told themselves they would do. I hear people using the choices of others to justify why their own choices ‘aren’t that bad’. This thought process is being us as an excuse to not follow through with goals that have been set.
Here are some examples:
You set a goal to move your body four times this week. You don’t do it. Instead of evaluating what happened and taking steps to try again and succeed at your personal goal, you focus on Susie in the office and how she is never ever active and justify your behavior because ‘at least you are not like her’.
You know your reliance on and constant intake of sugar is contributing to your rising blood sugar levels but you say, “at least I am not eating donuts and candy everyday like my coworker Bobby does.”
You have a new diagnosis of prediabetes and are feeling resistant to giving up soda. You know you want to get your blood sugar under control, but you also know you will “never let myself get to the unhealthy place my cousin did”.
Your health has NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW SOMEONE ELSE CHOOSES TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELF!!!
We are unique. Our health is determined by genetics, environment, stress, lifestyle factors, and more. Just because we don’t eat fast food everyday like Joe Schmoe doesn’t mean we get a free pass to avoid a heart attack. Don’t think that just because you skipped the fried mozzarella sticks and watched your friends eat them that your excess alcohol intake is erased. Health does not work that way. We all respond differently to food and exercise, and really all health related behaviors, positive and less productive.
This sort of comparison is negative, judgmental, and none of your business.
So take a moment to reflect. If you find yourself going down this thought cycle, I hope you can recognize it and stop it. People in your life don’t deserve this kind of judgement. And your health will not improve from it.
If you have a desire to take better care of yourself, own it, do it, and stay in your lane.
Remember - health is built on consistency. Stay clear in what you are trying to accomplish, take it one day at a time, and for goodness sake leave other people out of it.