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Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
Putting others on pedestals - self esteem danger zone!
by Harriet Frew on July 3rd, 2015

In life, I believe it is vital, necessary, encouraging and inspiring to have people that have gone before us and can trail-blaze and motivate us to be our best selves. I can think of many people along my life journey so far, who have played an important role in helping me to stretch to higher limits; push myself beyond my comfort zone and have given me real hope (often unknowingly, when I have read their books) to take a leap into more challenging waters and lead a fuller life.

What can be dangerous is when you give the person ‘god or goddess-like’ status. You assume they are perfect, gorgeous; multi-talented; they are always right; they have it all sussed. You put them up there on their throne of specialness. They can be seen as superior; better than; worthy of more. And of course this is not helped by social media. People can fuel this phenomenon by naturally tending to post, speak and write about the most glossy, shiny version of themselves for all to see; whilst also presenting their most put-together version ‘public face’ as they go about their daily lives. And you might feel admiring; worshiping, inextricably drawn to them. How do they do it? How remarkable can they be? And if you are truly honest with yourself, another part might feel jealous, envious and a maybe little bit of contemptuous. How dare they have it all together and seemingly have such a picture-perfect life. It is just not fair!

Of course, the problem with putting people on pedestals is that this is not conducive to creating and boosting your own self-esteem. If someone is up there with the gods; then you are inevitably down and possibly feeling inadequate; less than and not really good enough. You are giving away your power; to which others in this elevated position might unconsciously respond to. Anyone with a streak of narcissm in their psyche will love the fact that they are adored and will undoubtedly encourage this, even if unconsciously. Who would not like to feel idolised, worshiped, and special? It is a trap we can all be vulnerable to slipping into.

And certainly, if you look up to others, then you are likely to be looking down on others too. This is harder to admit and can often be very subtle. Looks, job status; house ownership; accent; clothes; education ……we can all like to think of ourselves as very accepting and non-judgemental, however, the reality can be somewhat different.

When you look down on others, this is a subtle way of trying to feel better inside. When you feel you compare favourably to others, you might feel a temporary boost to your self-esteem and worth. Striving for the perfect body; cleanest house; best behaved children; highest flying career can often be an attempt to boost flagging self-worth. The feeling that at least this is the one thing I can do better than others. And everyone can be vulnerable to doing this.

So who are you putting on a pedestal today?
  • Is there someone at work who seems to be especially talented; clever; a super-communicator – and you feel you could never measure up to them?
  • Do you look at Mums at the school gates and assume they have perfect lives and faultless children?
  • Do you have a friend who always seems to have it all together – looks, career, work, family, life?
  • And who are you looking down on?
  • Do you feel that you are better than someone because of your appearance, your body, the way you look?
  • Do you feel superior due to your education or career?
  • Are you aware of making endless comparisons to others in an attempt to make yourself feel better? 
How to break the pedestal trap and create better self-esteem from the inside-out: -
  1. Notice when you are doing this. Start to be aware. Initially, it might feel hard to change but simply noticing, helps you to consider a different approach.
  2. Remember that no-one is perfect no matter what their Facebook/Instagram page says or if they appear ‘perfect’ to the outside world. Part of being human is to have problems, flaws; things we struggle with. Everyone has their melt-downs; bad hair days; problems; struggles; difficulties. Yes, everyone!
  3. Anyone who seems too perfect – be curious! If someone needs to present such a flawless ‘outer’ then I will often wonder what is underneath this? Maybe they are feeling insecure? Maybe they need to feel in control all the time? Maybe they are very anxious?
  4. Don’t try to be anyone else but your best self. Okay, ‘they’ might be beautifully dressed and a social butterfly. Rather than compare though, focus on your own strengths, qualities and attributes that are you unique to you.
  5. Be kinder to yourself. Less judgemental. More compassionate. Be kinder to others. Less judgemental. More compassionate. This makes life a whole lot easier.If someone seems to be a step ahead in their experience, wisdom, communication – see this as a valuable learning opportunity. You can learn; soak up the knowledge and apply the best bits to your own life. You don’t have to be them. You can be the very best version of you! 

Posted in Self-esteem, Body image, Perfectionism, Comparing self    Tagged with comparisons, self-esteem, self-confidence, body image, Eating problem, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, inferior


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