“If I can teach you anything, it is to identify the stressful thoughts that you are believing, and to question them, to get still enough so that you can hear your own answers. Stress is the gift that alerts you to your asleepness. Feelings like anger or sadness exist only to alert you to the fact that you are believing your own stories.” Byron Katie
Social comparison has been around since the beginning of time. We’ve used comparison to gauge our successes and our failures, often causing us to be motivated or inspired to push ourselves in many domains. But with the explosion of social media outlets, compounded by the pandemic and the drastic shift to living our lives online we are spending more time scrolling through our social media feeds that are often plastered with our friend’s latest vacation, cute workout outfit, or family photos. And the inordinate amount of time that we spend scrolling through our feed is causing us to feel the backlash of comparison, leaving us feeling more broken than ever.
We see photos of our friends smiling and posing, which leads us to believe that all is well. But with anxiety and depression rates skyrocketing it leaves me to wonder are we being genuine? Are these online connections causing us to feel more connected and real, or disillusioned and unsure? How often do we pull the curtain back and reveal our authentic selves? And exactly who are we, truly? We think that truth is truth, that it’s not subjective, that it’s black or white. But is that true? Truth is defined as a fact or belief that is accepted as true. So if that is the case, then maybe the greater question is “What do we believe is true?”
If we are not mindful we can let all of the outside conditioning be the gauge that we compare ourselves to, often leading us to be confused about exactly who we are and what we believe.
What stories do you tell yourself about you? That you can’t do the work that needs to be done to become a healthier person. That you are too old. That you aren’t disciplined enough. That you are not smart enough. Not strong enough. Not pretty enough.
"Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth." C.S. Lewis
I used to believe that I would never be able to survive on my own as a single mom when I was in an abusive relationship many years ago. After all, I was only 24 years old. How would I make it on my own? I had a solid story. I didn’t make enough money. I was broken. I made a vow to stay in a marriage and I had a child to raise- I would cause irreparable harm to my child. This story was so firmly planted in my mind that it took me years and a lot of support from some angels in my life to help me rewrite this story and change the narrative. Slowly, line by line, my story became one of hope. And day by day as I wrote the new chapters of my life I questioned what was true and began to see a woman who WAS strong, capable, smart. I began to question the things that people around me told me. Here is the truth- when I took charge of my own life and got quiet enough to hear my own truth I was set free. Literally. The truth WILL set you free. YOUR TRUTH.
And now I find myself grappling with a different story. I’m 53. I look around and see what other people look like. We are so conditioned to do this that we often don’t realize just how conditioned we are. The above photos of me are perfect examples. On the right is the first photo that was snapped of me for our website. This photo was taken on a day that we did a practice run with dear friends of what we envisioned for our retreats. In that photo, you see the authentic, real Kinda. Sun-kissed from teaching swim lessons outdoors, free from makeup probably because I was running from one activity to the next, hair graying because I color my own hair and hadn’t gotten around to Sally’s Beauty Supply to get color and cover my growth. The first time I saw those photos of myself I immediately thought “Ewwwww, I hate these!” I demanded a redo so that I could make sure that I looked the way that I thought I should look. Ha. The photo on the left is a product of that next take. When I saw those I was satisfied that I had achieved what I thought was a professional photo that depicted me just the way that I thought I SHOULD look.
People are often incredulous when I tell them that I am 53 years old and a grandma! “You don’t look that old!” they will say! But, what happens when I DO look that old? Then what? How can I become OKAY with that? What does looking old mean? And why is that wrong? As I wrestle with the idea of dumping all of the hair color paraphernalia and let my hair go gray all of these questions cross my mind.
Outside forces of comparison and conditioning manipulate and cajole us on a daily basis. This is why I practice self-compassion, meditation, and The Four Seeds of Self-Care. So I can cut through the bullshit. I sit and meditate so that there is space between the incessant chatter of the monkey mind so I can hear MY truth. Question what is true for you. Do this again and again. What is your definition of health? What is your definition of success? What is your truth? Who are YOU? Only you can answer these questions. Make a habit of being still. And listening. When you consistently do this you will be able to rewrite your story, one line at a time.
Our next episode of The Four Seeds of Self-Care: Community Connects will air on Sunday, September 27th at 8 pm. Join us as we hear how our guest overcame addiction and rewrote his story!
With Love and Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel