I’ve been seeing this picture popping up on social media the past few weeks and I’d like to weigh in on a different viewpoint about before/after pictures than this picture portrays.
Here’s the deal. We all have before and after experiences in our lives. Heck, I’ve had about 392 of them since this morning. And trust me, you don’t want to see the before/after pictures of these!
- Before/after I got out of bed
- Before/after I showered
- Before/after I made my bed
- Before/after I did my dishes
- Before/after I cleaned up my bathroom
You get the idea….
Most of our before/afters are just things we do on a daily basis – and they aren’t a big deal. But many of our goals and dreams we work hard at. Really hard. They may take effort, sacrifice, pain, tears, and time. Whether it’s running a 5k, weeding a section of your yard, building something, losing weight, having a baby, traveling, writing a book, doing something hard, changing a lifestyle, or even getting out of bed in the morning – our big goals are hard to achieve. But we all are striving to reach some goal. It’s fascinating to me that our brains immediately go to a place of scarcity when we see others accomplishments. Our brains tell us that just because we have different goals or focus on different areas that we aren’t as good as someone else. A scarcity mindset tells us there are only a limited number of experiences in life and because someone else had an experience, it takes away from us.
Disclaimer/exception to the rule:
If you have a friend that posts something like… “I used to be a horrible worthless person just like you are now. But NOW I’ve done this huge thing that you’ll never do which makes me better than you’ll ever be!” and specifically calls you out, then I’d recommend taking advantage of those magic 3 buttons on the top right hand side of a social media post and unfollow, unfriend, block, or delete that person.
However, 99% of the population is NOT like that.
That means, when someone posts or tells you something they’ve done – you get to CHOOSE what you are going to think about their accomplishment. Their accomplishments have NOTHING to do with you and your accomplishments. That means they can do stuff and you can do stuff! You both can be amazing at the same time in completely different ways!
Here are some examples! (They are purposefully a little dramatic and silly)
- I just built this entire house with my own hands! Here is what this piece of land looked like before and here it is now.
Okay, my brain may see that and tell me “You don’t do anything good with your hands. You’re lucky to build a Lego house! You can’t do anything.”
I can choose to listen to that thought or I can choose to think –
“Look at that beautiful creation that my friend created! That’s so amazing that he has that talent. I am happy that they can use their resources to make such amazing things!”
- I just lost 647 pounds and now weigh what I did when I was 12 years old!
My brain may naturally go to “Man, that person lost 3 of me! The only thing I can lose is my car keys! I’m a terrible person.”
Better way to think –
“That must have taken so much work and effort. That is amazing that this person was able to devote so much of his time and resources to losing weight! Good for him!”
- I just cooked this incredible organically-grass-fed-melt-in-your-mouth-steak from my own beef I raised and slaughtered this morning and then made this beautiful colored salad from things I grew from my garden to go with the bread I made using the wheat that I personally stone ground. And my entire family LOVES it and ate it all!
The brain’s first response may be? “Wow. I made mac and cheese and hot dogs. From Walmart. I only have weeds growing in my backyard! The only thing I’ve ever stone ground is the spoon that got stuck in my disposal. I must be a worthless human being!”
Instead you could choose to think –
“That must have taken a ton of time and preparation for her! She sure knows a lot about organic stuff. Those are cool talents to have!” (and then I’d think – I wonder if she misses her cow)
- My 4th trip to France has been a success! I visited all my favorite cafés, kissed my love under the Eiffel tower at sunset, went to every cathedral, and worked on speaking French like a native! #besttripever
The brain – “I pointed to France once in a geography test in High School. The only place I’ve been to 4 times is Walmart. And that was just in one day! I’ll never get anywhere in life!”
Or you could choose “Traveling must be really important to them. That’s great they get to spend time doing what they love so much.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Seeing that perfectly green grass, beautiful picture of the ocean, seemingly perfect family, or the ripping 6 pack of others and not making it mean you are less of a person is something that takes brain work and practice. It’s hard! It’s not a natural response of the brain to not compare others best with our worst. It takes a conscious effort. We have to remind ourselves all the time that our life is full and beautiful and just the way it is meant to be. There is not a scarcity of time, talents, resources, and skills. We can accomplish hard things! In fact, you have already climbed your own mountain. You may have even climbed your own mountain today just getting out of bed this morning. Give yourself credit for what you do and what you have.
To strengthen this area in your life, there are 2 things I would recommend you try.
- Start a gratitude list. Start now. Write and keep writing. Grow your list to 30, then 50, then 100, then 300, then 1000, and keep going. The more you focus on things you are blessed with, your own talents, your circumstances, your challenges, and your growth, you’ll realize how rich and full your life already is. You have an amazing life just the way it is today. You are worthy of love NOW. Today. This very moment. Just the way you are.
- Practice being happy for the success of others. This is a lifelong practice for most of us. Others will accomplish things your heart longs to accomplish. They will do things you would love to do. They will have things you wish you had. Pray and pray and pray to love others for who they are and to love yourself for who you are. In the end, everything will work out the way it is supposed to. And when it comes down to it, if you knew everything about those whom you envy, you wouldn’t envy them at all. I promise. Guaranteed.
When people post before and after pictures, they are not body shaming anyone. They are celebrating an accomplishment. They are feeling the joy in the moment that comes when you reach a peak of a hard mountain. Their post says nothing about you and everything about them. Be happy for them!
My friends, keep moving forward one step at a time. Learn to love yourself and others because love is always the right answer.
And if you need help in this area or others, let me know! I do free first sessions and I would love to help you! Hit “reply” and lets schedule an appointment!