In a world where we can get a sneak peek into the lives of those around us simply by scrolling through our news feed, it can be oh so easy to fall into the trap of looking at the people around us and finding ourselves lacking.
Friends or even acquaintances are showing the gourmet meals they cooked for dinner, a picture of a mountain they hiked up, themselves looking glamorous and fit looking, and everyone seems to have their lives together. Great lives, full of exciting adventures, they are great parents, always positive, have amazing relationships, love the work they do, and have beautiful homes that are always tidy.
You on the other hand can’t even stay on top of the laundry, haven’t exercised in a month, have gotten takeaway five nights out of the last seven, feel miserable about your lack of self control from a stress eating episode after a particularly hard day, and you feel like you are just treading water, barely keeping yourself from sinking.
Why do you feel so lacking?
That overwhelming feeling is guilt about your “shoulds.” You should be eating healthy, you should be able to stick to a diet, you should be able to exercise for an hour every day, you should have lost more weight by now, you should be able to work, be on top of everything that needs to be done in the household, keep to your budget, save money, make progress with your life goals, travel, and generally live the life you think everyone else is living.
Whoah! That’s a lot of pressure to be putting on yourself! No wonder you find it hard to feel good about yourself!
If this all sounds like you, lets break things down so we can get rid of that awful feeling of comparison guilt once and for all.
Facebook or Fakebook?
What you may not have considered, it that people tend to put up their highlights reel on social media- the good times, achievements, good photos of themselves. They usually don’t post about their husband leaving a wet towel on the floor for the hundredth time, or the stuff up they made at work, or their house looking like a bomb has hit it, or a picture of themselves with no filter when they have the flu.
Keep in mind that just because it looks like someone has a perfect life, they almost certainly don’t. They just don’t make all that other stuff public.
Perfectionism is the enemy
If you have never heard of the 80/20 rule, you are in for a treat. This rule can be applied to almost anything in life. In a nutshell, 80% of the results you get come from 20% of the work you do. Which means that the other 80% of time you are spending only results in 20% of the results. What if you let go of trying to do everything perfectly, and instead focused on prioritising so that you only spent your time on that important 20%, and let the rest go?
Lets say that you decided to lose weight. You decided to write down ten things that you needed to do to help you lose weight.
1: Plan your meals for the week and get the ingredients.
2: Walk for twenty minutes a day
3: Buy new exercise clothes
4: Get vitamins
5: Join a gym
6: Download a calorie counting app
7: Read a dieting book
8: Cook and freeze healthy meals
9: Find a workout buddy to help keep you accountable
10: Register for a half marathon in 6 months
These all look like pretty decent strategies, and if you did them all, you would be pretty set! But….
What if you only did 20% of these. That’s two out of this whole list. Which two do you think would have the greatest effect on your weight loss? Everyone is different, and it is up to you to decide which would work for you, but lets say that in this example you just did the first two. If you had a plan and the ingredients to eat healthy and walked for 20 minutes a day, you might just find that in 6 months you lose 8kg.
Compare this to doing the entire list and maybe losing 10kg in 6 months. Is that difference worth all that extra energy and effort? Could that time have been spent on that magical 20% for another project or task?
Wouldn’t it be better to get an 80% result on everything you do, and be able to do more things well (but not perfect), than to finish less things but do a perfect job at them, and leave a lot of task uncompleted
Maybe you are already doing this an not realising it, and then feeling like you aren’t doing a very good job because you aren’t doing everything perfectly. Just stop and think- there are only so many hours in a day. The very best approach is to do a job that is good enough, and get through your whole list. That’s called being effective, and something you should be proud of, not something that makes you feel like you aren’t doing enough.
More doesn’t mean you’ll be happier
Look at lotto winners- studies have found they return to the same baseline of happiness a year after winning all that money as before they won it, which tells us that happiness doesn’t depend on what you have. Maybe you think you will be happy once you lose the weight, or find a perfect partner, or get a new car, or buy a house, or have the latest tech, or expensive clothes.
What people find again and again is that they get a little boost of happiness when they get these things, but it wears of quickly and they are back to feeling the same again.
Instead, appreciate the good things in your life now, be positive now, enjoy your life now, and practice mindfulness, where you notice things happening in the present and appreciate them, instead of always looking to the future and what you are lacking at the moment. Appreciate the body you have now ( I know this may be hard) but saying positive things in your head about yourself every day even if you don’t believe them will eventually shift your thinking so that you have a healthier perspective about yourself.