How many times have you walked into a party, an office, or even a grocery store and compared your body to everyone else in the room? Comparing is one of the many ways that women go to war against one another (and ourselves) when what we should be doing is supporting the people we most need at our side.
We're all vulnerable to the trap of comparing ourselves to others. When we are insecure, or plagued with self-doubt, we look for the easiest accessible affirmation that we are, in fact, OK—that we are enough. But the comparison game turns into a vicious cycle that becomes exponentially destructive the more and longer we do it. Want to take back control? Here are four things you can do:
1. Think about what kind of day the other person is having.
When you walk into a room, instead of immediately checking out what other women look like or what they are wearing, try to imagine what kind of day these other people might've had. This prevents you from objectifying other women (yes, you can objectify without any sexual intent) and allows you to see them as humans just like you with their own fears, struggles, and insecurities.
We are social creatures. Practice asking your friends—or people you've just met—how they feel about their day, instead of immediately commenting on their hair, outfit, or weight (even if it would've been a compliment). When we focus on thoughts like, "She has a better body than I do," we see the person as an unreal other instead of someone just like us—someone with a body they struggle to like or someone with fears they don’t want anyone else to know about.
2. Work on your own self-esteem.
There are literally thousands of resources available to help you work through issues with your past, cultural programming, and any influences around you that may be contributing to your struggle with negative self-talk, destructive behaviors, and low self-esteem. The journey to your own personal health and happiness is a lifelong one. Consider working with a therapist or reading a book that will help with your specific issues. Along the way you will find amazing people who will support you and encourage you as you heal and grow.
3. Consider the people surrounding you.
This may be a tough one to hear, but if your friends are saying or doing things that bring you down, make you feel bad about yourself, influence you to do things that harm yourself or others, or are in any way verbally or emotionally abusive, you need to find new friends. As you develop better self-esteem, you will see more and more clearly that anyone who brings you down doesn’t have a place in your life.
Set clear boundaries and demand that other people treat you with respect and kindness. Many people will respect your boundaries; others won’t. You don’t need to worry about that—keep working on yourself and trust that positive influences will show up in your life.
4. Be of service.
When we are involved in something bigger than ourselves, it takes our minds off our own problems and helps us see ourselves as part of a global community. When we focus on serving others, we don’t have as much time for negative self-talk, bad friendships, and comparison games. Stay informed about politics and world affairs. Take some time to read the headlines and get interested in causes that affect you and the world around you. The more you can start to see yourself as a global citizen the less you will worry about who has a better body.
You don’t have to compare yourself to others and feel miserable at your perceived inadequacy. Instead, stay focused on cultivating empathy and self-esteem and be mindful of your friendships and being of service for the greater good.