What’s the Cost of Comparing Ourselves to Others?

“In 1995, TV was first introduced to Fiji showing many imported US shows.
In 1998, only 3 years later, 11.9% of the teenage girls were hanging over the toilet bowl with bulimia, a previously unknown behaviour”.

– Susie Orbach, “Fat is a Feminist Issue”

I haven’t forgotten this shocking fact since I first read it many, many years ago.

Until teenage girls in Fiji started to compare their bodies with women on American television, the eating disorder bulimia nervosa didn’t exist in their country. As the unfavourable comparisons began, so did the mental health condition.

We live in a world where we’re invited to compare ourselves to others almost constantly.

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Food for Thought: To Be Nobody But Yourself

“To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

– e.e. cummings

In a world that says we must compare, correct and conform, this e.e. cummings quote – written decades ago – has, surely, never been more relevant.

There’s so much pressure for us to look the same, act the same, be the same.

Sometimes it’s hard to assert our uniqueness because we risk rejection.

But there’s such power in being nobody but ourselves.

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A World Without Dieting

If dieting never existed, what would your relationship with food be like?

Just think about it for a minute.

How would you eat if you’d never learnt to diet?

Would you wake up feeling confused and stressed about food?
Would you feel guilty and ashamed about eating something you “shouldn’t”?
Would you still binge? Label food as “good” or “bad”? Hate your body?

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Expert Insight: Filling the Spaces of Your Life with Positive People

“Boundaries can be used in two ways – by limiting the actions of the people who have hurt you, and by including the people who’ve shown themselves to be trustworthy. In other words, boundaries prevent harm and allow benefit.

…When a friend proves trustworthy, see that friend again. Risk a little more. Notice when you are treated kindly. Pay attention when someone offers you trust. As you become more discriminating about the people you let in, the spaces of your life will fill up with positive people, and you’ll have less room for the harmful ones.”

– Anne Katherine, “Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day”

Often we think of boundaries as a means solely of keeping toxic people out. But, as Anne Katherine explains, they’re also how we let trustworthy people in.

But how do you know who to allow close and who to keep at a distance?

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Gentle Reminder: Something about Feelings

This is the blog post where I wrap up the theme for the month – in this case hope and hopelessness – and link to an older post from the archives.

There’s just one problem.

It’s the first day of my holiday and I’m currently sitting in the kitchen of a gorgeous little cottage in the Cotswolds. The countryside is unbelievably beautiful. The weather is perfect. The only sounds I can hear are the gentle hum of the fridge, birds chirping in the courtyard outside and the tap-tap-tap of my fingers hitting the keyboard.

Why is this a problem? Well, I’ve come down with a severe case of lazyitis (must be the change of water, I think) and I’m struggling to write the post I was planning to write which, I recall, was something about feelings.

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What’s the Point?

You’re having a conversation with a close friend. There’s something exciting going on in your life and you’re dying to fill them in. As you talk, you’re brimming with energy and enthusiasm about your venture. When you finish, rather than sharing in your excitement your friend says flatly:

“What’s the point?”

Slightly stunned, you ask them to explain what they mean.

“Well”, they say, “it’s just that you’ll never do it. You’ll never achieve that. You might as well give up”.

How do you feel?

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