You know how it goes… your phone sends you a memory notification with a pop-up of a photo of you from when you were thinner. You then go down ‘the rabbit hole’ and start scrolling through previous photos of all versions of your past thinner self and your brain tricks you into thinking you were so much happier, prettier, and of course much more confident.. hell you probably even shat rainbows back then too ALL BECAUSE YOU WERE THINNER!
STOP my Queen!
This is NOT serving you in any way… apart from giving you an opportunity to choose growth and evolving which is what we’re going to do together now.
Comparison is the thief of joy
When we constantly measure ourselves against others (including our past selves) who we deem ‘better than us’—whether it’s our lives, achievements, or how we look—it brings us down (unless you’ve done the inner work to know you’re enough and you’re the best at anyone in the world at being YOU).
“Not good enough doesn’t exist without comparison.”
Not good enough compared to what and who? Also, “We are where our attention is” so instead of comparing ourselves to others or to our past selves, we can instead focus on actually being ourselves, growing in our own way, and appreciating the journey we’re on. By doing that, we let go of shitty feelings such as jealousy or not-enoughness. We can then embrace who we are, celebrate our wins, and be grateful for the path we’re on.
“I literally used to feel jealous of the past version of me!”
Can you relate? I’d look at photos of her and wanted more than anything to be her again and felt heartbroken that I couldn’t.
Now, I love all versions of me and I’m super grateful for each past version of myself bringing me closer to who I am today.
Why do we compare?
Before I go into how to stop comparing yourself to the past version of yourself, I’d like to touch on comparison in general and answer the question; “Why do we do it?
Comparison is a natural and ingrained aspect of human behavior that did perhaps serve us at some point. Let’s take a look at this…
The link between survival instinct and comparison is rooted in our evolutionary history. Throughout human evolution, living in social groups and communities provided several advantages, such as;
increased protection, shared resources, and collaborative efforts for hunting and gathering.
In this context, the ability to compare to others within the group became essential for survival. Here’s how the survival instinct and comparison are interconnected:
- Group Dynamics:
- Early humans lived in groups, and being part of a community contributed to their survival. The ability to compare oneself to others within the group helped individuals gauge their position, ensuring that they were contributing to the collective well-being and benefiting from the group’s resources.
- Cooperation and Collaboration:
- Comparison could have encouraged cooperation and collaboration within the group. Individuals who were aware of their skills, strengths, and contributions in comparison to others were better equipped to engage in collaborative activities that enhanced the overall chances of survival.
- Resource Distribution:
- In a communal setting, resources were often shared among group members. Comparing oneself to others might have been a way to assess fairness in resource distribution. Individuals who perceived inequities were likely to take action to address them, maintaining social harmony within the group.
- Mate Selection:
- Comparison played a role in mate selection, another crucial aspect of survival and reproduction. Individuals likely evaluated potential mates based on their qualities and attributes compared to others, aiming to choose partners with characteristics that enhanced the chances of successful reproduction and offspring survival.
- Status and Hierarchies:
- Establishing hierarchies within the group could have been important for efficient decision-making and organization. Comparison of abilities and traits may have contributed to the formation of social hierarchies, allowing individuals to recognize leaders and specialists within the community.
While these evolutionary aspects may explain why humans developed a tendency to compare themselves to others, it’s crucial to note that the modern context is vastly different. The survival challenges our ancestors faced are not the same as the challenges individuals face today. (Thank goodness, I’m not sure I could survive without chocolate 😉)
Developing self-awareness, practicing self-compassion, and focusing on individual growth rather than constant comparison can contribute to a healthier and more positive mindset.
How to stop comparing your current body to your smaller/thinner past body
Comparing your current body to a smaller or thinner past self can be emotionally challenging, to say the least, and contributes to negative self-perception of the body you have today, right now in this moment. #noshit…
When I used to compare my body to my past lean body it made me feel jealous, sad, frustrated, shameful, and hopeless. I’d of course plan a diet or find more ways to restrict in an attempt to “get my body back” only to fail miserably and feel like an even bigger failure. I became obsessed with trying to remember exactly how I’d eaten back then and what exercise I did so that I could just ‘do that again’ and then when I ‘got my body back’ everything would be fine and I’d be happy.
The problem was… it didn’t work did it…? Hence me sitting here now! (I’m SO glad I’m sitting here now btw). And when it did work for a short period, I’d wonder how the fuck I even managed to live on so little, my biology would take over and I’d end up knee-deep in chocolate and Ben and Jerries feeling even more shitty about myself than before…
This cycle continued ever since my anorexia morphed into bulimia so for about 12 years… (I was in anorexia for about 5 years).
Here are some strategies that helped me and therefore will inevitably help you to stop comparing and embrace your current self:
#1 Practice Self-Compassion
Meet yourself with love and gentleness when you’re in ‘compare and despair’.
“It’s ok to be here. I understand why I am and these feelings will pass. I’m no longer enabling myself to reject and abandon myself anymore during these feelings by hating on myself and planning more restriction to feel better. I’ve got me.”
#2 Make space for your feelings
Name how you feel out loud and/or write them down…
“I feel angry, sad, jealous, ashamed and this is what it feels like in my physical body…”
I feel heat in my throat, my head and I feel a bit dizzy. I can feel the shame of being me, it’s a feeling of wanting to crawl out of my own body somehow.
Authentically express these feelings. If you feel sad, allow yourself to cry. If you feel angry, allow yourself to have a ‘paddy’ (tantrum). Allow, allow, allow. Write them down, and talk about how you feel with a loved one if you are able. Shame can only exist in the shadows. Sharing your shame brings it into the light and then it dissipates.
#3 Remind yourself what you had to do to have that body
If you had to live on 3 lettuce leaves and work out for 3 hours a day, is it really worth going back there? Are you even able to go back there if you wanted to? Was living even deeper in the hell hole of the eating disorder worth the body you had? Were you really happy back then or is your brain lying to you (like only reminding you of all the ‘good times’ you and your abusive ex had)?
Be honest with yourself, what life was you truly living back then?
#4 Remind yourself why you’re not there now
What happened for you to leave that version of you behind? Why are you no longer doing the things that version of you was doing? This is for you to journal on because this will bring you great clarity.
I’m no longer in my previous lean body because for one my body had had enough of starving and so my biology took over. I literally couldn’t stop myself from bingeing. I seemed to have completely lost my ability to restrict. And constantly trying to restrict and then constantly purging was hell. I couldn’t stay in the eating disorder for a moment longer. It was ruining my life, my relationships, my freedom. I was a prisoner to my own thoughts and behaviors. I hated myself, my body, my thoughts, I was hopeless but I was SO done being that way.
#5 You’ve outgrown that version of you
The most beautiful thing is, you’ve now outgrown the version of you who was counting almonds and tracking steps and calories like her life depended on it. Thank fuck for that! Yeah, she may of had a smaller body but would you want to trade?
Your priorities and values will have changed… and that’s a good thing! You’ve upgraded who you were. Send that past version of you love and let her go. Write her a letter of goodbye. Grive that version of you.
#6 Embrace who you are now, including your body
Bodies change over time and it’s a natural part of life. What else have you gained as well as weight? How can you send love to your body and yourself now? Write a love letter of acknowledgment to yourself.
Own your story otherwise, it’ll own you!
What are you grateful for? Cultivate gratitude for what your body can do rather than how it looks. Focus on the functionality and health of your body, appreciating its strengths and abilities.
#7 What do you need to feel better in yourself?
What was that thinner version of you doing that did feel good (if anything)? She may have spent more time outside or prioritized going to gym classes and enjoyed the social aspect. Learn from that version of you by taking what felt good and leaving behind the disordered part behind.
#8 Come up with some mantras to repeat to yourself
I am enough
I embrace the body I have today
I chose to enjoy life in the real body I have now
My body is the least interesting thing about me
Me and my body deserve pleasure and love always
#9 Diversify Your Social Media Feed:
Follow accounts that promote body positivity and diversity. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can help shift your perspective and reduce the impact of societal beauty standards.
#10 Mindfulness and Meditation
Practice mindfulness to stay present and appreciate the current moment. Meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment.
#11 Seek Professional Support
Remember that everyone’s body is unique, and comparing yourself to an idealized version of your past self may is not helpful or serving you in any way. Embrace self-love, focus on your well-being, and appreciate your body for all that it allows you to experience in life. Own your story that’s led you to the woman you are today. Accept the upgrade. Grive. Surrender. Let go and enjoy the real body you have now.