Q: How do you love yourself? How do you stop comparing yourself to everything you see on Instagram? I recently unfollowed people who made me feel bad about myself. I began surrounding myself with more motivational and inspirational people. It made a huge difference.
A: We are all tempted to compare our lives with others to see how we measure up. While it is wonderful to gain inspiration, encouragement, and ideas from others, using our time and energy to live in a tormented state of envy or inferiority is just not worth it.
I use the hula hoop as a metaphor to describe what I own and what lies within my jurisdiction. Imagine a hula hoop around you and a hula hoop around someone else. Everything in your hula hoop belongs to you. Your hair is in your hula hoop. It is your hair, you own it, and you are responsible for it. You can cut, color, or do whatever you please because it is your hair. Your spiritual gifts and natural talents are in your hula hoop. It is your responsibility to learn what those are and to develop and use them to make a meaningful contribution to society. They are your gifts and talents. You own them and you are responsible for them. Your desires, feelings, ambitions, etc., are within your hula hoop.
Why would I use my time and resources to focus on another person’s hula hoop when I do not own anything within their hula hoop? If you look at it through the lens of the hula hoop metaphor, you can see what a loss it would be not to explore and discover what you own and do your very best to love, nurture, and develop those things. Think of your hula hoop as a pie chart divided into sections. Each piece contains something different. Spiritual, intellectual, relational, creative, physical; all are a part of you.
Ask yourself, “What can I do to grow the intellectual part of myself? What books can I read, or classes can I take to stimulate my mind?
What can I do to grow the creative part of myself?” Make goals that are small, specific, and measurable to cultivate wholeness and move towards success.
Scripture tells us in Psalm 139 that God fashioned and formed us in our mother’s womb. We were HIS idea and he has declared each of us to be “wonderful and complex.” God did not make a mistake when He created you. Learning to love and develop yourself as if you were your own best friend is your privilege and responsibility. It is a choice, though. You could choose to squander all that God has given you by focusing on what you perceive others have that you do not. God gave them their gifts for a reason, and he gave you your gifts for a reason. Think of your traits, your gifts, as tools. When we set out to complete a job, we make sure we have the right tools. A carpenter needs a hammer. A cook needs a stove.
God has given each person the tools we need to perform the work he has placed before us. Embrace it and be the best you that you can be. You were created, just as you are, for a reason. It is your job to figure out that reason. We should surround ourselves with healthy relationships, this includes on social media. Just as we would never consume poison, we should not consume destructive things that hold us back from the plan God has set before us. When you are old and gray, you want to be able to look back on your life and know you took responsibility for that which God entrusted to you, and only you. No regrets!
Patti Hatton, MA, LPC