Today’s topic: the double standards we set for ourselves. (Get ready for some Courage the Cowardly Dog references.)
A few days ago, I went to a concert for my most favorite band ever (Fall Out Boy… shameless plug). Even though I was pumped for the show, I also felt slightly nervous because I went solo. It was also one of my first concerts, and the venue was also somewhere I had never been. So all in all, I already felt pretty awkward.
And then some random frat boys drove by, rolled down their window, and shouted: “Damn girl, yo ass is ugly!”
Completely random, rude, and uncalled for – no matter how you spin it. Whether someone is “ugly” or “pretty” or whatever you may think, that type of behavior is not acceptable.
At least, that’s what I would tell any other person who had this sort of experience.
But because it was me, I let one rude comment get under my skin and into my head. It almost ruined my night and the concert I had looked forward to for months.
Here’s the reason why: I have a harsh double standard for myself.
In my own head, I have this unrealistic image of how I think others view and judge me. If I’m the “health” or “fitness” person (both self-titled), and I skip a workout or eat a bowl of ice cream – suddenly the world falls apart. But if it were any of my other friends doing the same thing, I wouldn’t think twice.
This thinking stretches beyond the realm of body image, and into the space of overall self-image and confidence. If I have to study for hours to barely grasp an economics concept for my class, that means I’m not smart and don’t belong at Rice; however, if a fellow student struggles with writing a paper, that’s just because the assignment is hard and they aren’t used to the subject. If I need to take a moment for myself to recharge or just be alone, I’m antisocial and no wonder people don’t know me; if my roommate stays in to study or sleep, she’s just relaxing and taking the night off.
Do you see a pattern here?
But here’s the worst part – I don’t think I am alone in setting these double standards for myself. If I had to wager a guess, I would say a lot of us experience this. While it is one thing to have high ambitions and try to hold ourselves accountable to our actions, it is something else altogether when we constantly berate ourselves until we are our own worst critics.
Just being aware of this behavior does help start to combat it, though. I’m working through it, and I know it won’t change overnight (I wish!). But here are some of the ways I have tried to start shifting my mindset to something more positive:
- Acknowledge the emotions and thoughts. Personally, I go throughout the whole day essentially ignoring my feelings. Then I have a moment of downtime and everything overwhelms me at once, which can set the tone for the rest of the night, week, or even longer. I am now taking the time to work through the emotions I have as I feel them, and then move on.
- Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. We are allowed to make mistakes. None of us are perfect, and the occasional “slip-up” is to be expected. It’s when we let these slip-ups become downward spirals that the problems start.
- Be your own best friend. Before you pass judgment on yourself, think of how you would treat a friend in the same situation. Would you be so critical? Would you even notice what they were doing? Now treat yourself the way you would treat your friend.
This is definitely not easy, but I know that for me – this is crucial. I want to be in a place where I can embrace the good parts of myself, accept and believe compliments, and not let the curve-balls life throws bring me completely down.
I deserve to see myself the way others see me, and so do you. We are all pretty amazing, even when we’re so different – and if you asked me, I don’t doubt that I would have many good things to say about you. So say them to yourself!
You know what? You kicked butt on that workout – I don’t care how anyone else looks in the gym, because you worked out hard and that’s what matters. You did well on that test – nope, doesn’t matter if someone got a better grade or learned it quicker, because that doesn’t change how awesome you are. You’re a great person, because you are you. It is as simple as that.
So let’s drop those double standards for ourselves and just live life.
Sending lots of love to you all! Let me know if you want to talk, or share your experience. I’m always here!