Is Competing with Yourself Destructive?

“Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.”  You’ve heard this saying before, but is it as motivational as we think?

Well, we all know it’s bad to compare ourselves to others (because you can’t actually be someone else) so we switch to the next closest thing and focus back in on ourselves.  Which you would think, can’t be such a bad thing, right?  Well…let’s break it down.

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.  

Let’s assume that we don’t literally mean who you were yesterday.  Ok so imagine you’re someone who lost 50 lbs, you’re in great shape, your eating is on point and you come across this picture quote on the #fitspo Instagram feed.  You see this quote and now you’re thinking about how you used to be: 50 lbs heavier, low self-esteem, poor cardiovascular endurance,  little muscle mass, barely fitting in your jeans, etc.  Did one positive thing even cross your mind about your past self?  Probably not.  But you’re not seeing this as a negative thought and here’s why:

Compare YOURSELF (the new sexy fit you)  to who you were YESTERDAY (presumably overweight, no confidence whatsoever).

This statement is asking you to point out everything that was wrong with how you used to be.  And sure maybe you did have no confidence, you probably were unhealthy,  and a few flights of steps probably winded you…but are those all bad things?  Well, they’re attributes that you’re happy to NOT have anymore, yes.  However, that mode of thinking only promotes negative self-comparison (i.e. only looking at your past flaws).

What we should be encouraged to do is to look back at our old selves and think “wow, that person made a huge commitment and stuck with it and got me here to my after photo, to where I am today.”  Not:”wow, what a worthless fat ass I used to be”. These are legitimate thoughts that I used to have as someone who has lost significant weight. I used to look at my old self and see someone who was awkward, fat, ugly, and weak.

But here’s the thing.  Our bodies are going to change throughout our lives; anyone can tell you that. I sure as hell won’t be taking leggings/sports bra selfies 30 years from now.   So I strongly believe that someone who goes from overweight and unconfident to fit and healthy is never going to feel good until they’ve accepted themselves at every stage in their life.  You can’t only accept one tiny part of you (that’s cheating!); you gotta look at the whole package.  You’re more than just a photo of yourself flexing in the mirror with the perfect lighting (sorry, but it’s true!).  That person with the abs couldn’t have had that body if it weren’t for the decisions made by the person in the before photo.  The “before” person, they did the work.  They cried.  They struggled.  They kept pushing to reach a goal.  Shouldn’t that be the person who we are the most proud of?  Shouldn’t they be getting the spotlight?

Never forget where you started from and who helped you to get to where you are now.  Respect your “before” photo.  Respect the process.

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