We live in a culture of comparison. This is largely perpetuated by social media, where others’ vacations, careers, relationships and meals are presented in an idyllic way. It’s hard not to compare yourself to those people when their lives appear so perfect through your iPhone screen.
In America, we are told that we can achieve the lives we want through hard work and perseverance. We live in the “land of opportunity,” where climbing one’s way up the corporate or social ladder is standard.
This idea can be motivating, but it can also be pretty damaging. With comparison (whether to others or to oneself) comes an inner monologue that can be hard to shut off.
It’s typically something along the lines of I’m not good enough; I’ll never get that promotion; I wish my significant other cared about me as much as my friend’s does; I’ll never have as comfortable of a lifestyle as theirs; I’ll never live up to what my parents want me to be.
You get the picture. Self-efficacy can easily turn into self-doubt. For those of us who tend to internalize our anxieties rather than air them, this brain chatter runs rampant. It may be triggered by certain stimuli (such as certain people or conversation topics) or it may be constant.
Either way, this negative self-talk can be “treated,” if you will- even if you feel like it will go on forever.
Recognizing these thoughts when they arise is the first and most important step, but it doesn’t stop there. One thing that has worked for me is to develop a “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality. When I’m feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, I tell myself that I am strong and I can make it through whatever I am facing. Your thoughts largely influence your actions.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t- you’re right.” –Henry Ford
You can spend lots of time and money at therapists’ offices sussing out your inferiority complex or excessively high standards. But what it all usually comes down to is a shift in perspective. Sometimes it takes someone else to push you towards that realization, and that’s fine too.
Find the sources of your negative self-talk and ask yourself where those judgments are rooted. Is it fear of failure or loss? When you know the cause, it’s easier to obliterate it.
From there, you must replace your current dialogues with more constructive ones. This is the hard part: when you are feeling anxious and hopeless, telling yourself otherwise feels like a mockery. But it truly does get easier over time.
In the depths of my eating disorder, I told myself some truly awful things. Moving beyond my rigidity to a place of recovery was a long process (and I still have bad days). However, I can’t imagine thinking or treating myself in the way that I used to.
It’s because I swapped negativity for positivity; I chose to shun comparisons and be okay with where I am. You must find motivation for changing your mindset.
The rationale for altering one’s outlook can vary from person to person. It can be for spiritual, mental or physical reasons, or maybe a combination. For myself, it was the goal of becoming truly healthy, happy and whole (not just what I told myself was healthy).
Find your reasons to do away with the negative dialogues and stick with them. Results come with consistency. Hopefully- one day- you too will be so far from your judgmental thoughts that it won’t seem like the same person who thought them.
Have you ever tried to change your narrative? How did that affect your life?
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