Transforming Self-Criticism: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD
Photo by Carly Rae Hobbins
If comparison is the thief of Joy, why hand it over to thieves? In a world filled with: books, blogs, podcasts on how to get joy back into your life shouldn't we start with avoiding comparisons?
This seems most prevalent in the world of sport. Impressionable young athletes are quick to jump on the hottest bandwagon even if it is ludacris. Case in point when Tom Brady decided to go on the no nightshade diet. This diet had absolutely no scientific evidence to back it up yet athletes everywhere started inquiring about it. Was it the diet or was it Tom Brady who is a freak of nature athlete? Why can’t we acknowledge that some people are genetically gifted athletically just as others are naturally smart or have a quick wit to them that can make anyone laugh? In the world of sports, you truly are only competing against yourself and if today is going to be your day, it will be your day!
Do we suffer from the cruelness of comparisons or is it the culture in which we live in? Just as we see cultures within the world, they are even more prevalent within the world of sport. One of my dear friends has been an avid runner for 30+ years and talks about when runners showed up in cotton shirts/socks, old-school running shorts and their sports food of choice was mini-snickers. Now at races, people are fully decked in the trendiest running gear, full on makeup and accessories meanwhile huddling around their running clique discussing their pace splits (#nowatchme), clean eating efforts and what races they plan to do this month.
Cars used to have bumper stickers bragging about their child on honor roll or making fun of the child that beat up the honor roll student. Now cars are full of 13.1, 26.2, 50, 150-mile bumper stickers. Waiting for the moment we see the 1,000 numbers. My husband proudly jokes he wants a 0.0 bumper sticker!
Criticisms come as part of sport whether we want it or not, but we must consider the reason for why it is generated: constructive or jealousy? Ron Thompson shared a story at the Eating Disorder in Sports conference about when he was working with a runner who felt uncomfortable that her uniform would expose her when she was running. Ron replied, “Well if they're staring at your butt it has to be because you're in the lead!” I think most athletes agree they will take the fear of wedgie if it means winning.
Many times criticisms are internalized as self-criticism when it is meant towards their performance. I fell victim to this in college after making a horrible mistake picking up the ball once crossing half-court then double teamed resulting in a jump ball. The opposing team won the jump ball and came down to score the winning shot of the game. As I went to the locker room feeling completely defeated one of my teammates put her hand on my shoulder and said “It’s ok Bec, I know you won’t ever make that mistake again. “
You see when we aren’t busy comparing, or criticizing we have the power to change the culture and build one another up!
Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD is a Master’s Level Registered Dietitian & a Board Certified Sports Specialist. She specializes in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating & exercise addiction. She also treats the female athlete triad & athlete-associated disordered eating. Becca understands that the drive for peak performance may lead to disordered eating. Her goal is to help you fuel your body, so that you can fuel your life! Visit her website.