Comparison: the Unwinnable Game

I’m not sure if it’s the humidity or the longer summer days with kids, but several of my clients have started whining in the past couple of weeks. Not real, true annoying whines, but I’ve been hearing the grown up version of “it’s not fair!” quite often.  My women clients are bothered by the shape and size of their bodies and my men clients are frustrated with their perceived lack of athletic ability. Some are comparing themselves to younger versions of themselves and some are comparing themselves to strangers they see at the brunch spot, but in every case, they’re focusing on the negative.

Listen, I get it. I have felt in my bones the perceived injustice of the thin friend who eats brownies and french fries. I have belittled my fitness when friends seem to effortlessly run faster and longer distances than me. I have gone to bed feeling truly hungry trying to lose 5 pounds. I have turned down cupcakes baked in my honor. But I don’t do that anymore. That thin friend? That’s her body. It has nothing to do with me.  (Not to mention that friend is almost definitely focusing on her own perceived imperfections.) That super star runner? That’s her journey, not mine. I’ve learned that I like to run for itself. I don’t like it any better when I’m running a 9 minute mile or a 9:45, I’m just happy to be outside, listening to upbeat music and enjoying the view. French fries don’t satisfy any kind of hunger for me, so I stay away from them. And brownies? Well, I love them so I eat a ton of them.  Those 5 pounds I desperately wanted to lose? They’ve doubled and I’ve decided that I’m just going to keep them. They don’t slow me down and I’m tired of fighting with my body.

One of my idols, Cheryl Strayed, sums it up beautifully: “You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding”

So I tell my clients to do the best they can do. I ask, all the time: “what’s the best you can do, right now, in this instance? Not 15 years ago, not before those 2 kids. NOW.” Then we make a plan to put that into action. And then I tell them to celebrate the hell out of it! Because focusing on the negative only brings out more negativity. Let’s shift the mindset. Let’s focus on the positive. Let’s all play the hell out the cards we’re holding. They’re the only ones we’re going to get anyway.

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