I learned from a very early age the game of body comparisons. I have been into fitness since I was very young. I grew up in the era of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and the sense was to be a “man” you had to be big, strong and muscular like them. I compared my scrawny little pre-teenage self to that of grown men. Unnaturally enhanced grown men. I made my first set of homemade concrete weights when I was twelve and worked out all the time. I wanted to be the best and to have the best body in the room. I quickly learned how to measure myself and compare my body to those of others around me. I got caught in the comparison trap, like so many others.
The urge to be physically fit has stuck with me ever since. While I love to train and build my body I don’t have any desire to ever consider myself a “bodybuilder” in the traditional sense of the word. The tension in the room, artificial pretense of pomp and ostentation was a huge turnoff to me.
My experience has shown me that some individuals in the bodybuilding and fitness model community have a tendency to be insecure, self-doubting and potentially unstable. Thus fitness is their outlet to potentially overcome or hide these deeper insecurities. This was certainly the case for me. I was trying to hide my own deeper insecurities by obsessing about my body. Little did I realize then how the fitness community can program us to constantly compare ourselves and one another up to a fictitious, drug-assisted, air-brushed state where we are taught to play the mental game of body checking everywhere we go all the time. It has now become the social norm to compare ourselves with others everywhere we go (not just in the fitness industry).
How Do I Compare With Everyone Else in the Room?
For better or for worse we often have an initial impression or assessment of a person based off of what they look like. In a world of appearances we often can make the mistake of judging another or being judged by another based on our physical characteristics and how they stack up to some illusory standard.
Have you ever noticed what your natural inclination to do is in a room of a large group of people or in some social setting with a lot of strangers? You play the silent game of body checking or comparing. This game revolves around the question:
How do my looks and body compare to the rest of the crowd?
Mentally you make a superficial glance through the room and label, categorize or separate people based on their looks. Who is the tallest? Who is the skinniest? Who is the most fit looking? Who has the best clothes? The nicest hair? How does my body and my appearance compare to the others in the room or crowd? Unbeknownst to you, within seconds, you are mentally “sizing up” and making initial comparative judgments of everyone in the room.
What “Sizing Up” the Room Sounds Like
For women your internal mental conversation may go something like this as you scan the room: “Man she has a BIG back side,” “That bra is too tight, her fat hangs over.” “That shirt is much too small for her chest,” “I am in better shape than her,” “I have much larger legs than her,” “She is really plain looking,” “She really needs to go on a diet,” “She looks like she is 100 lbs overweight—doesn’t she have any dignity and self-control?,” “I’ll be okay here, I’m not the skinniest but I’m definitely not the fattest,” “She has a nice smile but her nose is too big,” “I would be embarrassed if I went around looking like her,” “Wow she is really toned there is no way I could ever look like that,” “She has such nice proportions—how come I never got so lucky.” “Some girls have all the luck.”
For men the inner mental chatter might be: “He looks smaller than his picture—I bet you anything I could take him,” “I am so much bigger than him—he is nothing compared to me,” “I make 10x more than he does, he has nothing to teach me,” “I bet you I am so much faster than he is,” “He has big arms but he doesn’t have six pack abs like I do I bet,” “He looks puny and weak I could beat him blindfolded,” “He is going bald already—must stink to be him,” “His shoulders and chest are HUGE—he must be taking steroids no one can look like that naturally,” “He really needs to diet and exercise- he looks like he has ‘man boobs’”.
Mentally noting and pointing out the physical flaws or imperfections in others helps us somehow justify ourselves and ease our awareness of our own need for improvement. It somehow makes us feel more “worthy.”
Can a Few Seconds Really Give Us a Good Picture of What We are Worth?
We have somehow encapsulated the entire worth and merit of another in a few seconds of cursory physical analysis, all the while mentally placing ourselves in the spectrum of “better than,” “not as good as,” “far superior to,” or “not even in the same league” as another. And all of this without any words spoken or intelligent information shared.
Playing the body check game can cause significant emotional unrest, body dissatisfaction and feed pre-existing inferiority complexes. To arrive at the state of complete and total body acceptance we need to cease this incessant subliminal comparison game entirely.
No one is better than, superior to, worse off or more loathsome than another because of their weight, size or body composition. I am not somehow superior to you because I can dead-lift more than you can or have more muscular legs. Nor is your wife, mother, or sister somehow inferior or “less than” another of her peers because she may have a different chest size or waist line.
We were not designed to look like or be like everyone else.
There is No Such Thing as a “One Size Fits All” Body Type
While fashion magazines, commercials and fitness shows try to homogenize everyone into the same mold we should consider celebrating our uniqueness. We weren’t made to be the same as everyone else.
It is ironic that we honor cultural and ethnic diversity, but as a culture we have trouble with the notion of body diversity. We do come in all shapes and sizes, yet there is this expectation that we should all be one-size-fits-all, as long as it is thin or fit.
There is too much stereotyping of individuals built into the fabric of our pop culture based on weight and body composition. This underlying insecurity that makes us prone to play this constant game of body comparison is a symptom of a much deeper rooted issue—we have not fully learned to accept, embrace and love ourselves. No amount of weight lost, fitness gained or muscles toned will change this either.
How to Replace Comparison with Praise
Learn how to play the mental praise game. Instead of immediately critiquing, internally criticizing and trying to “fix” the bodies of those around you in the room learn to mentally praise and bless them.
As you scan the room again your thoughts could automatically repeat such phrases as: “She has such beautiful eyes,” “She has such a nice complexion and smile—I would love to get to know her,” “He has such an engaging handshake”,” “She radiates such love from her body—I feel blessed to know her and be in her presence,” “Wow—what a great looking person she is—bless her in everything she does,” “He takes such great care of his body—thank you for being such a great example to me” “I’m so glad he makes such a good living, we need more men like that in this world.” “Bless him or her with perfect health and happiness always.”
This may seem awkward and feel insignificant at first (because we aren’t saying any of these words out loud anyways) but it will change your life forever. Some of my own personal mental praise phrases I use for the body are: “I praise and bless you as the Perfect expression of divine health and well-being now.” I bless you with perfect health and wellness.” “You ARE healed from any imaginable disease, infirmity, deficiency or lack in any way.” “You have a perfect body that ALWAYS functions smoothly and effortlessly to your happiness and peace.” “You are beautiful inside and out.”
Mentally ‘Praising’ Others WILL Change Your Body and Your Life
It may take time but through conscious deliberate effort you will refuse to play the mental body check game anymore and replace it with the mental praise game instead. The more you reflexively learn to play this game wherever you go, at the store, at work, while you drive, as you exercise, in public places, etc. the more powerful of a person you will become. The energy of love, empathy, acceptance and pure goodness that will radiate from your thoughts will form a palpable electromagnetic field around you that will warm, ignite and bring to life everything and everyone.
Before you know it, as you mentally praise, applaud and compliment the bodies of others you will draw the same beauty, health and physical wellness to yourself. You won’t tire, weary or slow down ever. It will create a momentum of high frequency energy that will make you a magnet for health, wellness and unparalleled beauty. To learn more about this phenomenon, see the following posts:
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