Staying in your own lane – how to address comparison in recovery
No two eating disorders are exactly alike. They can vary in behaviors, motives and underlying factors. But for every unique element the eating disorder has, there is a characteristic that exists across the board. One such element is comparison, and how the eating disorder loves to compare your recovery with that of others. I can safely say that every client who has walked through Westwind’s doors has had difficulty staying in their own lane, and not comparing their recovery to others.
The eating disorder loves competition, and it can make anything and anyone into an adversary. It can try to pull you out of focusing on your own recovery by making you feel like you aren’t doing as well as someone else, in regards to food, progress, mood, and even how sick or well you feel. It tries to work to distract you from your own recovery focus and keeps you stuck in the eating disorder mindset, either by comparing, or falling into people-pleasing and caretaking. It wants you focused on what you aren’t doing right, rather than on your accomplishments and the progress you are making.
It can be difficult to navigate recovery when the eating disorder is shifting your focus. That’s why we often talk about “staying in your own lane” – turning your attention from what others are doing (or not doing), to your own recovery. Here are some ways to keep you focused on yourself and your recovery goals:
Remember that there are many different paths to recovery, and everyone’s looks different. Comparing your recovery to someone else’s is like comparing apples and oranges!
Recognize the game the eating disorder is playing – how is it distracting you from your own recovery?
Return to your recovery mind by reframing the comparison thoughts and offering yourself support and encouragement for what you are working on.
Bring in compassion for yourself and whoever you are comparing to. Recovery is not easy for anyone, and regardless of where you or another is at in recovery, there is struggle involved.
Trust that you are doing what you need to do for your recovery, and you are at the right place. Remind yourself that your efforts are moving you forward, and reflect on the progress you have made.
Finally, keep in mind that the eating disorder is not a reliable source for how sick or well you feel. It is biased, and will focus on whatever it needs to in order for you to feel hopeless in your recovery!
Recovery is not a race. It’s not a competition. It is something you are doing for yourself, to reclaim your life.