Have you ever been in a fine, normal, go-about-your-day mood and after taking a quick procrastination break on Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter), you see a new post by a friend posing in her bikini on the beach and it sends you into a tailspin of negativity and "I hate my body" thoughts?
Yep, that happened to me yesterday. It's amazing how social media can instantly transform you from a "I'm-normal-and-happy-at-the-moment" person into a "I'm-now-turning-into-a-crazy-person" lunatic (and usually sparked by someone you barely know!)
You see a friend of a friend of a friend post honeymoon pics from Costa Rica in her bathing suit. She looks happy, radiant and stunning.
All of a sudden, you start to envy her life, her body and her relationship. You wonder why your boyfriend sucks, your job is boring, your life is meh, and why you aren't swinging down zip lines, grinning with glee, having the time of your life in the jungles of Costa Rica.
Hold it right there! Before you go down that rabbit hole of despair after you've compared yourself to your cousin's friend's sister Sally (who you talked to once, and wait, why are you even Facebook friends...?), let's get real about the social media comparison trap.
Social media can be an amazing tool, but when you're feeling not-so-hot about yourself, it can be a recipe for disaster.
So, let's halt that negative spiral of wishing you had the body of your yoga teacher's best friend's friend who just posted pics of her new yoga poses in a skimpy a** outfit, I invite you to keep these three things in mind:
3 tips to stop comparing yourself to other women on social media:
1. Remember, it's about you. NOT them.
It's not about your second cousin once removed that looks amazing in a bikini. It's about your own self-confidence or lack thereof. What's being triggered inside of you and why are you feeling that way? Were you feeling fat and gross already? Were you feeling down about yourself?
It's usually that you're projecting the person has whatever it is you want. Whether that's confidence, radiance, comfort in your body, happiness, sex appeal, joy, etc... You think this person has it and YOU want it.
So, how can you get more of this in your own life? What makes you feel confident and radiant? Maybe it's going for a run after work. Or doing your hair and makeup when you go out tonight. Let go of THEIR life and focus on yours.
2. You never know what's really going on.
So, you wonder how your gal pal who has two kids and works a full-time job can look like that in her yoga pants and tank top? I'll tell you right now: You will never ever know what truly goes on in someone's life. She could be miserable in her marriage, stressed beyond belief as a working mom and insecure about her own body.
You can never compare what's going on inside of you to someone else's outsides. Because you'll never get the full picture. At the height of my disordered eating craziness, I was the image of a smiling, happy, everything-is-perfect-on-the-outside kind of gal. Yet, inside I deeply despised myself. And no one knew.
I'm not saying every woman you see on social media is like this. But some are. You'd be surprised just how many women struggle with their body image and relentless quest for perfect bods.
Every woman you see (whether that's on social media or in real life) is fighting her own battle. She's got demons of her own. Whether it's a relationship struggle, infertility issues, a war with their bodies, or some other battle they are fighting, we've all got something. So be easy on her. And on you.
3. Bring it back to your journey.
When I got triggered by bikini pics the other day, here were just a few of my thoughts:
"Ok, I need to look like that immediately."
"It's not fair, she looks like that after having kids?!"
"Uhhh hello? I workout and eat healthy, why don't I have a 6 pack?"
And on and on... and then I went for a quick walk to clear my head. It was just what I needed.
It was a beautiful, 75 degree sunny day and it got me out of my crazy thoughts. I came back calm and refocused on ME. I've thought about how far I've come in my own journey. I thought about how I used to endlessly diet and binge and how I no longer engage in that cycle. I smiled to myself that I don't need to keep 5 different sizes of clothes in my closet anymore. And I truly reflected on how much MORE I love my body than I did a few years ago.
Because that is what truly is important. Your own journey and being grateful for the steps you are taking to love your body and be okay with yourself. And even if you aren't as far along as you wish you were, you're still making progress :)
Next time, you find yourself triggered by someone's Facebook or Instagram pics, keep this post handy. And share it with your gal pals...because it's important that every woman knows how to stop the "social media comparison game" dead in it's tracks!
If you're tired of constantly comparing your own food and body struggles to other women around you, c'mon over and visit me at www.jennhand.com. I help women let go of obsessing over their bodies and find peace in their eating.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.