Have you ever found yourself judging or comparing your life with others based on what you see on social media?
The bigger question to ask is, “Is this judging or comparing empowering you or dis-empowering you?”
I get a few digs about some of my lifestyle choices, mostly as friendly banter, and I’m sure I give my share in return, though absolutely never with any malice. I have an inner alarm that goes off if I think someone might be offended, humiliated, embarrassed by my comments or if it might just sound like ‘sour grapes’. I’m not perfect – I’ve made mistakes and if anyone has ever been offended, it wasn’t my intention (probably!).
The Weight Loss Issue
As an example, for those who think I’m always out wining and dining and eating the wrong food for an overweight person, remember that people show the highlights, or sometimes the very darkest moments, of their lives on social media.
In my case, I still exercise by playing beach volleyball; we still walk our dog every day and here’s today’s balance to my dietary intake. I subscribe to a healthy nutritional program that has enabled me to lose a very large amount of excess weight in a sensible amount of time. (Thanks to our friends Mike and Jane Pelusey who introduced us to it).
It’s all about balance – who would want to have to be miserable to lose weight? That’s unsustainable. If you’re going to eat something that you love, but you know it’s potentially fattening, bloody well enjoy it. Then balance it out for the rest of the day, or the rest of the week.
I enjoy drinking wine. If that offends you, that’s your problem, not mine. I also balance that consumption with drinking Kangen water – electrolysed, ionised, alkalised water (Sexy Water – thanks to our friend Martin Ball).
These are just my views and I’m sure that some of the health experts will disagree and be horrified, but I’m steadily losing weight and loving life at the same time.
The Inner Battles We Know Nothing About
I’ve had to cut things back, both in terms of food and financial commitments and some of the outings I previously enjoyed (networking breakfasts for example), so it’s not all rainbows and Hollywood – it’s about real life, setting real goals, overcoming real obstacles and challenges and about making real choices.
Jo and I may often share a breakfast or a main course. We do appear to be out a lot – pretty much every weekend in fact, because we grab the opportunity to enjoy our couple-time when we can as a respite (sorry if the un-pc word offends the pc Nazis). It’s our balance for a relentless responsibility that comes with being carers for a family member with a disability and our lives revolving around medication alarms and sleep disturbances at all hours. I’m not complaining, just explaining.
Holidays are another topic. I admit that sometimes I may initially feel a bit jealous when I see friends off in locations that have been on my bucket list for a long time, but I’ve trained myself to re-frame that as my inspiration to open up my possibilities. None of us know the real story behind that other person’s choices. We don’t know everything about their daily struggles, their sacrifices, their extra efforts, their fears or their aspirations, so to compare our lives with theirs is a futile exercise.
Never Feel Inadequate
It’s really important that we don’t allow ourselves to feel inadequate, simply because we can’t afford that holiday right now, or that new car, or that house, or any of the other things that we see on social media.
We all make choices and those choices have consequences. We are all facing different challenges or have different opportunities because of those choices that we made. You can take your life in a new direction simply by making different choices and by taking different actions.
The biggest attitude adjuster you can bring to bear is to remember to focus on the things you do have in your life, for which you can feel extremely grateful. If you wake up above ground for example, that’s a great start!
A family member once asked me, “So, Mr. Positive, tell me, what have I got to be thankful for in my life?”
I thought a moment and asked, “Where did you sleep last night?”
She answered, confused, “At home of course – why?”
“Hmmph. Now you’re just being ridiculous.” She retorted.
“Ok, so what did you do this afternoon, that you were just telling me about before?”
“I went to the beach and read my book”, she continued, even more baffled.
“Oh, you mean you had the opportunity to lie down and relax on one of our beautiful, white- sand beaches next to the spectacular Indian Ocean, enjoying being able to read? I mean a lot of the world’s population can’t even read. How lucky are you?”
She began to realise my point and proceeded to slag off another relative instead. I gave her some coaching perspectives and ‘re-frames’ on those comments as well.
The point was that she was making herself unhappy, by choosing to focus on all of the negatives and ignore all the wonderful things that she had going for her.
Social Media has merely amplified what many of us were doing already. We always judged and compared – those are human frailties, but now, we are now exposed to all of the achievements, holidays, consumer purchases and highlights on a scale that has gone beyond the scope of our ability to process it all, and those are just the posts that the algorithm chooses to let you see.
What Can We Do?
We can go back to basics. We can choose to remind ourselves of the little things – the feel of the breeze, the ray of sunshine, the colour of the flowers, the warmth of family and friends, the peace of mind of having shelter, the privileges of education – you get the idea.
- We can change our envy to congratulations and acknowledgement of reward for effort.
- We can shelve our judgements, realising that we don’t know the full story.
- We can seek inspiration from the human stories and kindnesses of others.
- We can offer comfort, solace and support to those less fortunate than ourselves.
- We can learn new skills, information and ideas and share our knowledge and resources with others.
- We can strive to be a little better each day than we were yesterday.How will you choose to look at things today? Will those choices empower you?